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I wrote some about Gideon a few years ago, expressing my opinion that this biblical character was basically a twit. (In Sunday School this week, I believe my exact words were “ephod-making weenie.”) Really, Gideon is pretty easy to hate.
When we first find him, he’s hiding. He insists on testing the angel of the Lord to the nth degree. He doesn’t let the Israelites crown him king … but he does ask them for gold and made what soon became an idol (a “snare to Gideon and his family,” Judg. 8:27).
What really struck me in my reading of these books in Judges this time was chapter 7, verses 9-11. They read, “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. If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah 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.”
Do you see that? There’s no hesitation. God says, “If you are afraid …” and Gideon takes that and runs with it. After all God has done and shown him, Gideon is still shaking in his wine-stomping boots.
I want to call Gideon out. Wuss! Sissy! What on earth is your problem, dude??
And then I step back, and I see myself, hiding in the winepress. Booking it down to the Midianite camp with Purah to see what they are saying about me. Fear can be THE sin, the one that haunts you and won’t let go. Do I really fault Gideon for being fearful? Me, one who worries about car accidents every time my husband is 10 minutes late?
It’s good that the story isn’t really about me. And it wasn’t about Gideon, either. The story – every story – is about God. God takes the weenie, the lowest one, and makes him a mighty warrior. God shows His awesome power by having 300 men triumph over legions of Midianite warriors. And however briefly, Gideon did realize that when he refused to become king, saying, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you” (Judg. 8:23).
May we remember today that this is not our story. And isn’t God merciful with us, knowing our sin issues and showing us a way out, as He did for Gideon?
[Interested in reading more devotions from me? A couple bucks will buy you 30 in my newly released devotional, Parenting Parables, which also includes questions for journaling.]