One of the heroes of Judges is Gideon. Most of us are probably familiar with the story of Gideon and the fleece. If you’re not familiar with this story you can read about it here (Judges 6:36-40). Although this story may be well-known, I’d like to cover it and some other aspects of Gideon and the grace of God in his life by examining some verses from Judges 6-7 and sharing my thoughts on them. 

Gideon’s Background

When we consider Gideon, we must first consider the context of Gideon. Gideon came from a family of idol worshipers. Like many other Israelites at this time, Gideon’s father Joash worshipped Baal. This wasn’t anything done in secret, for we know that one of the first things the Lord tasked Gideon with was destroying his father’s altar to Baal (cf. Judges 6:25). The people of the village complained about the altar’s destruction, which confirms they were also idolaters. We can surmise Gideon knew of the Lord because he knew how to build an altar for him and knew about the signs and wonders God had performed for Israel in the past (cf. Judges 6:13,26). However, Gideon didn’t know God for himself. 

Lessons from Gideon

When God first appears to Gideon, he tells him this:

The Lord turned to him and said,  in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” (emphasis added)

Judges 6:14 (NIV)

There are two points to note in this verse. First, God never sends us to do anything without properly equipping us to do it. This doesn’t mean that we’ll look at ourselves and the circumstances and think we’ve got everything we need on our own. We probably don’t, but God will make a way where there is no way. The second component of this verse to note is that all Gideon needs to know for his success is that God is sending him to save the Israelites. This is like Moses asking God for a sign when God wanted to send him to Egypt. What did God tell Moses?

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Exodus 3:12 (NIV)

Moses’ sign was that the impossible task God had for him would be completed, and he would return to the mountain there with the people and worship God. That’s something, isn’t it? The sign was the successful completion of the task. 

Both Moses and Gideon had doubts. Gideon questioned God because he hadn’t seen any of the signs and wonders his ancestors talked about. Moses had forty years of tending sheep after fleeing from Egypt. Both looked to themselves and found themselves wanting. 

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

Judges 6:15 (NIV)

Gideon knew his place and couldn’t fathom how he could do what God asked him to do. When we acknowledge our lack of power and ability, we can truly see the wonders of God in our lives. If Gideon’s clan had been the strongest in Manasseh and he the greatest in his family, he might have tried to take the glory for himself instead of giving it to God. 

Gideon’s Fleece

Gideon doubted whether or not God was God and if he could really do what he told Gideon he could do. Therefore Gideon proposed a test.

Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised- look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said. And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

Judges 6:36-38 (NIV)

This might have been enough for some people, but it wasn’t for Gideon.

Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Judges 6:39-40 (NIV)

God showed tremendous grace to Gideon by performing these signs for him. While God shows us grace all the time, we shouldn’t be like Gideon and put up tests before him. Unlike Gideon, we have the complete word of God available to us in the Bible, and we have the gift of the Holy Spirit that leads us and guides us into all truth. Although we were once unbelievers who didn’t know God, now we know God and are known by him if we are saved. As His sheep, we know his voice. 

The 300

When Gideon sounded the horn to battle against the Midianites, 32,000 men responded. However, the Lord said there were too many men, so the option was given to those men who were afraid to leave. Therefore, 22,000 men left, leaving 10,000 to fight the Midianites. 

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.”

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.” Three hundred of them drank from cupped hands, lapping like dogs. All the rest got down on their knees to drink.

Judges 7:4-6 (NIV)

There’s a lot of conjecture regarding those men who lapped the water and those who knelt to drink. Some say that the men who drank from their own hands were better candidates to fight because they were aware of their surroundings. Others say that these same men showed cowardice by not freely drinking from the water like those who got down on their knees to drink. I’ve also heard the 300 compared to dogs who are always aware of their surroundings. Hence, they lapped like dogs from their hands. The contradictory nature of these theories reminds me of this Scripture.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

Sometimes it’s not enough for us to just know that God is God, and he does things however he so pleases. We have to try and figure Him out. I believe the best explanation for why 300 men were chosen this way and the rest were turned away is because this is how God chose to separate the men.

God’s Reassurance  

After everything Gideon has seen, God still wants to encourage Gideon. Therefore God tells him, “‘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” (Judges 7:10-11 NIV). After going down to the camp, Gideon is encouraged, and then they attack the Midianite camp. God’s grace to Gideon doesn’t waver. Instead, it increases all the more. The Lord recognizes that Gideon is still afraid but doesn’t count it against him. 

Something we don’t find out in Judges 6-7 is how many Midianites Gideon was up against. According to Judges 8:10, there were 120,000 men in the army that Gideon and his 300 men attacked! (cf. Judges 8:10). When we realize this, the story of Gideon and his 300 men takes on new meaning. Imagine how Gideon felt when there were 32,000 men and 22,000 of them left. Imagine still how he must have felt when God told him that 10,000 men were too many! It’s no wonder that Gideon was afraid and needed to go into the enemy camp to be reassured before attacking. 

God asked a lot of Gideon and showed him tremendous grace. Fortunately, the same God who asked so much of Gideon and showed him so much grace is the same God we serve today. So whatever the battle looks like in your life, if God brought the victory to Gideon, he can do it for you. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.