Daily Devotional

May 26, 2019

Daybreak: Judges 7:1-25

“And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” (Judges 7:15)

The paint was cracked and peeling, falling off with just a touch of my fingers; it was clear that I would have to paint the house this year. I asked my wife to select the colors, and I bought the paint, brushes, and all the necessary tools to prepare the surfaces. Then I took a week of vacation from my job, and started patching, nailing, scraping, and sanding. 

By the middle of the second day, I was having trouble doing any work if my arms had to be higher than my shoulders. Though I felt that I did not have the physical strength to do the job, somehow I was able to finish by the end of the week. However, the experience made me realize that I was weak and needed to try to strengthen myself. 

Soon a fitness center opened in a building next to the one I worked in, and I was able to join without a fee. Once I was exercising two or three times a week on my lunch hour, I began to feel better and had the strength to do both my job and the work around the house more effectively. The exercise was having its desired results.

Faith is also strengthened by exercise. Gideon is a name that invokes a vision of great faith and courage against overwhelming odds, but he did not start out that way. When God first called him, he questioned God’s power and provision for Israel. However, God kept working with Gideon until he was not afraid to attack an army of 135,000 with only three hundred men. Gideon’s faith was greatly strengthened when he heard the enemy soldier’s dream. As noted in the focus verse, he was ready then to tell his troops that God had given them the victory.

When we obey God in the small things, He will increase our spiritual strength for the days ahead, and like Gideon’s, our faith will increase and God will help us live victoriously for Him.

Background

Since the death of the elders who had known Joshua, the Children of Israel had gone through several cycles of backsliding, defeat, oppression by their enemies, crying to the Lord for deliverance, and being led to victory by a leader raised up by the Lord. At the low point of one cycle, God called Gideon.

In today’s text, Gideon had an army of 32,000 men, and they were camped by “the well of Harod,” which means “trembling.” Then God began the reducing process. The 22,000 men who were afraid, were told to leave. Fear is contagious, and Moses had instructed years before that the fearful should go home (Deuteronomy 20:8). God instituted a test for the remaining men. The men themselves probably did not know they were being tested. No doubt, they went by groups to drink, and Gideon was able to accomplish the sorting one group at a time. The final count of Gideon’s army was three hundred men.

The Israelites were camped about four miles from the Midianites, and God sent Gideon another encouragement. Barley was considered inferior, because it was about half the cost of wheat. Israel’s small band of men was much less than the Midian army, so the enemy’s dream seemed to infer that Gideon’s army was inferior. Yet, it also told who would win the victory! Notice that when he heard this, Gideon took time to worship (verse 15). 

In these lands in ancient times, battles were most often fought during the day rather than at night. If armies did fight at night, just a few men had torches to give light, and only some of them carried trumpets. Gideon gave each of the three hundred men a rams’ horn, a torch, and an open-topped pitcher to conceal the torch. He divided his men in thirds and surrounded the enemy camp. 

The “beginning of the middle watch” was likely around midnight (see “Watches of the Night” below). When Israel’s three hundred men blew their trumpets and broke their pitchers, to the just-awakened enemy it looked and sounded as if a great army was upon them. They began to kill one another, and then the remaining men began to flee. Gideon rallied more troops to pursue. God gave Israel a great victory, and they knew all the credit belonged to Him.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II.   Conditions during the period of the judges
      B.   The judges of the period
            5.   Gideon 
                  c.   Israel’s deliverance
                        (3)   The conflict for deliverance
                               (c)   The army reduced (7:1-8)
                               (d)   The dream of the Midianite (7:9-14)
                               (e)   The defeat of the Midianites
                                      [1]   The strategy (7:15-18)
                                      [2]   The confusion (7:19-23)
                                      [3]   The scattering (7:24-25)

A Closer Look

  1. God reduced Gideon’s army first by sixty-nine percent, then the remaining by ninety-seven percent. What reason did God give for reducing Israel’s forces so drastically? 
     
  2. After Gideon had put out a fleece and had been answered, God arranged a special encouragement for him before he was to attack. Why do you think God did this?
     
  3. What should our attitudes be when God gives solutions to situations that seem impossible?

Conclusion

God desires to work with us and increase our trust in Him. As He did for Gideon, God gives us wonderful victories as we obey Him!

Reference Materials