Verses 1-8: God works with Gideon to prepare an army for the defeat of the Midianites. God tells Gideon to go through some exercises to reduce the army lest they think that they, and not God, are responsible for the victory.
Verses 9-16: God tells Gideon to go down to the camp to defeat the Midianites, but in the same sentence God also makes a provision for Gideon’s apprehension and fear. If Gideon is too daunted at their numbers, he can take his servant down to the camp outpost, where he will receive a sign. Surely God knew Gideon through and through, for Gideon takes Purah and goes to the outpost to seek this sign.
The numbers of the Midianites are so great they are compared to locusts and the sea. Nevertheless, Gideon overhears one recanting a dream that is interpreted as Israel defeating the Midianites. Gideon worships the Lord and returns to his camp to prepare for battle.
Verses 17-25: Gideon readily disperses the Midianites from their camp through creative tactics and of course, the providence of God. The effort is so successful that their water sources are captured, two Midianite princes are killed, and Gideon passes the word to others in the area to look out for and capture the enemy.
Let us think about how God worked with and through Gideon. Many men heeded the call to fight, but God, knowing their hearts, also knew how they would react once they defeated the Midianites. They trusted more in their own strength than in God’s, which would have caused them to think they had done it all on their own – so God had to reduce them. The fearful left first, then a seemingly arbitrary method of how water was drunk from the water further winnowed the fighters. After all was done, there remained just 300 from 32,000.
Then, through Gideon going to the outpost and overhearing the dream, God didn’t chastise Gideon for his fear of the Midianites. Instead, God made allowance for it and offered Gideon a way out, a way to reduce his fear and strengthen his resolve that God would in fact lead him to victory.
God often does this same thing to us today by removing barriers or, adversely, comforts, from our lives. God reduces us through trials, taking away our sense of ease and comfort, a wake-up call that shows us how much we really do need Him – A death, an injury, a loss of something or someone that can’t be replaced.
Put a bookmark in your brain to remember to praise and lean on God when things are going great in your life. Then, when you need to seek God during a difficult time, the search for peace and confidence will be shorter and sweeter, whatever the problem.
God loved Gideon with patience and faith; God prepared him for service. Gideon was given grace by God with time to grow his faith. When he was shown God’s power, Gideon held fast and acted. So should we.
James 1:2-8: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”