THE LORD’S SWORD
Lord, Your methods work all the time.
Read JUDGES 7:15–24a
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.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the midst of activity, Gideon paused to worship (15). Do this now.
Here we read of ‘one of the great routs of Biblical narrative’, (A Graeme Auld, Joshua, Judges and Ruth: The Daily Study Bible, St Andrew Press, 1984, p173) the pinnacle of Gideon’s life and mission. Instead of ‘the least in my family’, who sees his clan as ‘the weakest in Manasseh’, (Judg 6:15) we now see Gideon as a confident and competent military leader. His men willingly follow his lead in carrying out the ploy which throws the Midianites into confusion, a plan which seems to have been devised by Gideon rather than received ready-made from the Lord (16–21). Demonstrating even greater authority, Gideon summons members of tribes other than his own to pursue the fleeing Midianites (23,24).
However, Gideon’s new-found confidence is not in himself or his abilities, but in the Lord. Notice how he begins the sortie with worship (15a) and attributes the victory to the Lord (15b,18b). The narrative (22) makes it clear that it is the Lord who causes the Midianites to turn on each other. It is intriguing that the Israelite soldiers add ‘a sword’ (20) to what they were instructed to shout (18), but ironically the only swords wielded are those used by the Midianites on each other!
One of the sharpest problems of the Christian life is how to get the balance between doing all I can to achieve a desired result and trusting that the Lord will do what else is necessary. For example, I am currently grappling with a protracted and frustrating legal matter: I find it very difficult to know how many emails and phone calls I should make to try to move the process forward and how much I should trust that the Lord is working out His purposes behind the scenes, so that I don’t need to push too hard. What lessons do you think I can learn from Gideon in this passage?
What battles do you need to fight? What can you do and what must you trust God to do?
Lord, teach me how to know what I must do and distinguish it from what I need You to do. Give me the wisdom to know the difference.