Read Judges 7
Gideon Defeats the Midianites
7 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. 2 The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ 3 Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained.
4 But the Lord said to Gideon, “There are still too many men. Take them down to the water, and I will thin them out for you there. If I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go; but if I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.”
5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the Lord told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.
7 The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.
Now the camp of Midian lay below him in the valley. 9 During that night the Lord said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands. 10 If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 11 and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he and Purah his servant went down to the outposts of the camp. 12 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.
13 Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”
14 His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”
15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed down and worshiped. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The Lord has given the Midianite camp into your hands.” 16 Dividing the three hundred men into three companies, he placed trumpets and empty jars in the hands of all of them, with torches inside.
17 “Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. 18 When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’”
19 Gideon and the hundred men with him reached the edge of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, just after they had changed the guard. They blew their trumpets and broke the jars that were in their hands. 20 The three companies blew the trumpets and smashed the jars. Grasping the torches in their left hands and holding in their right hands the trumpets they were to blow, they shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 While each man held his position around the camp, all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.
22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the Lord caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The army fled to Beth Shittah toward Zererah as far as the border of Abel Meholah near Tabbath. 23 Israelites from Naphtali, Asher and all Manasseh were called out, and they pursued the Midianites. 24 Gideon sent messengers throughout the hill country of Ephraim, saying, “Come down against the Midianites and seize the waters of the Jordan ahead of them as far as Beth Barah.”
So all the men of Ephraim were called out and they seized the waters of the Jordan as far as Beth Barah. 25 They also captured two of the Midianite leaders, Oreb and Zeeb. They killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb at the winepress of Zeeb. They pursued the Midianites and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon, who was by the Jordan.
Judges 7 begins with the Lord instructing Gideon to lessen the size of Israel’s army until he is left with only three-hundred men: a significantly smaller army than Gideon pictures. The Lord asks Gideon to trust in Him despite the unequal match-up against the Midianite army. Truly, all that Gideon has to depend on for victory is the Lord, but God does not ask Gideon to step out of his comfort zone or lay down his idea of how the battle is supposed to go without providing both clarity and assurance.
In verse two, the Lord clarifies His purpose for sending soldiers home: so Israel would not elevate themselves over God and claim that their own strength saved them in the battle. God’s desire to be Israel’s deliverer keeps them from the sin of pride. The Lord also provides assurance in verse nine: God tells Gideon that He is handing the Midianite camp over to the Israelities, even with their sparse, 300-man army (verse 7). The Lord does not send Gideon into battle with a disproportionate army while He observes from a distance. Instead, He continually assures Gideon of the victory before the battle starts. God addresses Gideon’s fear and assures him with the promise of victory.
Similarly to Gideon, the Lord may ask us to give up comfort or sacrifice our idea of what the future should look like, but never in vain. Even if we cannot fully comprehend why something we planned for does not occur, we can trust in the promise that God works all things together for our good. Because at His core He is good, and He is higher in thought and ways than humans. Even more, the greatest clarity and strongest assurance for Gideon is not in the victory itself, but in the prior assurance of God’s presence throughout. God desires to give everyone the promise of his presence today, and He gives this to us through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He faithfully fulfills His role as deliverer in the lives of those who have accepted Jesus.
- How has the Lord been faithful in the past? (In regards to your life, another person’s life, or another story from the Bible)
- Is there an area that is specifically challenging for you to trust in the Lord?
- What can you invite the Lord to deliver you from today?
This song, titled “Defender” and sung by Steffany Gretzinger, talks about the Lord going into battle ahead of us and on our behalf. Gideon trusted in God’s character to bring about victory and humbly bowed down in worship of Him before the battle. In the same way, we can trust today that the sovereign and personal Lord is going before us in our battles and praise Him. Whether you can sing from victory or hope for it to come soon, take some time and worship the Lord through this song in whatever season the Lord may have us presently.
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