WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25
SCRIPTURE: JUDGES 8
Andrew Bonar, a Scottish Presbyterian pastor, once said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.” Those are wise words indeed. After the victory in whatever battle we have been fighting we have a tendency to let down our guard or take up the credit for the victory. Either one is dangerous. And in this chapter we actually see Gideon doing both.
As the chapter opens, there is an interesting conversation between Gideon and the tribe of Ephraim. It seems they were upset that Gideon didn’t call them to the original battle with the Midianites. If you think through it logically, Gideon was right by not calling them out for the original battle. First, he didn’t need them. God pared the army to 300. Second, the Ephraimites wouldn’t have been in position to capture the fleeing Midianite kings. So, why were the Ephraimites so upset? It probably had to do with the fact that they didn’t get to share in all the loot that was taken from the 120,000 Midianite soldiers who were killed. We humans are a funny bunch.
As the chapter progresses, Gideon and his army of 300 are still chasing some Midianite kings. He sought assistant from a couple of groups of people along the way. They refused to help. After capturing those two kings, Gideon returned to take vengeance on those two groups of people who wouldn’t help him. He whipped the leaders of Succoth with briars. I was whipped with a lot of different things when I was growing up. But I was never whipped with briars. And I am glad. Gideon also tore down the tower of Penuel to punish those folks.
When we get to verse 18, we discover that the two captured Midianite kings were responsible for killing Gideon’s brothers at some point. As a result, Gideon, fulfilling the right of the kinsman was going to execute these two kings. Oddly enough, Gideon asked his young son Jether to do it. Gideon did this for an important reason. How a soldier died in those days was important. To be killed by a child would be a gross humiliation. But Jether was not ready for this and Gideon finally killed the two men.
From there the people of Israel wanted to make Gideon their king and create a dynasty for his family to continue to rule. Gideon rejected that. Kind of. One of his sons was named Abimelech which just happens to mean “my father is a king”.
Not only did Gideon take on the role of the king, he also took on the role of the priest when he made the ephod. Sadly, this ephod became an idol for the people. And it wasn’t long before they were worshipping Baal again. We humans really are funny people.
Gideon fell from the great heights of incredible military victory and overwhelming public support to creating a system that would lead his own people back into idolatry. As Bonar said, “Let us be as watchful after the victory as before the battle.”