Judges Ė Lesson 8
Judges Chapter 7:1-25
In chapter 6, we saw Gideon raised up to be a deliverer of the nation. This weekís lesson begins with God working to lower the number of the people in Gideonís army to prove that the Lord was the one who won the battle.
I. The Preparation for Battle
Judg 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
In verse one it says Gideonís army was located near the well of Herod which was opposite the ďhill of Moreh.Ē Since this spring of water was located in the northern foot of Mt. Gilboa, (which was on the southern edge of the Jezreel valley), Gideonís troop clearly were assembled on the slope of Gilboa, with the Midianites spread out to the north in the plain below.
Judg 7:2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Judg 7:3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
This is the first reduction of Gideonís arm. I am sure this was a surprising order to Gideon from God as they were already vastly out-manned. But if you want to go to battle to win, you had best have people who are not afraid. A person afraid to fight will not make a good warrior. Jesus wants our lives to be dedicated to God, and for us as Christians to face the battle before us as strong soldiers.
2 Tim 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
2 Tim 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2 Tim 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2 Tim 2:5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
2 Tim 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.
Paul was telling young Timothy to walk pure and whole before the Lord, and keep his mind and body zeroed in on the things of God. A few years ago, Brother Woolbright,
came over one afternoon, and we were talked about how easy it is for us to see all the problems with others in not serving the Lord. If we donít have a bass boat to keep us on the lake on Sundays, we may criticize those folks who do have for not being dedicated. But what if it is a computer program or some other thing like the surfing the Internet that keeps us so occupied that we donít have time to read Godís Word. In that case, the Devil has fulfilled his task. We talked about the battle going on for our mind last week in the lesson. Letís not forget that anything that takes away our time with the Lord is a stumbling block. God made me aware at that time how I had gotten over committed on doing good projects. And my time with God, your time with God, reading His Word is the best time any of us can spend in our day. We must be disciplined or we are letting Satan win the battle.
Judg 7:4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.
God told Gideon why he had to cut down the number of his troops. If God gave the victory to them with this many soldiers, they would say ďMine own hand has saved me.Ē God knows even our thoughts. He looks inside and knows the heartís desires. So God tells Gideon that whoever was afraid to go to battle, for them to just go on back home. I think that is the way in Godís battle her on earth today also. Those who are willing, those who will make up the hedge, they will be empowered by God to accomplish His Will. But those who want to coast in the Christian walk, they can just coast. God never makes us do His work, but he offers to every man and woman a chance to make eternal differences with our lives. Just as Gideon must have been discouraged by Godís order, we too can be discouraged when God does things differently than the way we would do it. But I have learned that Godís Way is the best way, and the only way that will not fail.
Gideon probably thought a handful, maybe even a hundred men might leave. But more than two-thirds of the group left. Starting out with 32,000, Gideon saw 22,000 turn and leave. So now, with only 10,000 strong, unfearful men was he to go to battle. How in the world were 10,000 men going to go up against the enemy who number 135,000. I donít know many who went out 13 to 1 against them that came back victorious. But God wasnít finished with cutting the numbers down to size.
Judg 7:5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.
Judg 7:6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.
The number of men was still too large if credit was going to be given to God for the victory. God came to Gideon and gave him further instructions which Iím sure must have bewildered him. But one thing that is consistent in all the great men of God, one trait that is always prevalent, is that they believed God. Gideon did not question, but rather just did what God said. That is the kind of faith we need to have to be pleasing in Godís sight. We may not understand, but we just trust and obey.
Remember the words of Samuel to Saul when Saul failed to obey the exact command of God.
1 Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
1 Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
It cost Saul his kingdom to not obey God. Our disobedience can cost us our testimony if we are not careful. But by Godís Grace, we can stand strong, and be a good soldier in the army of the Lord.
The second reduction of forces came by seeing how the men drank their water. Those who drank by bringing water up to their mouths by hand were to be retained. Those who bowed down upon their knees to drink were to be sent home. Perhaps this was a test to see who was being alert and watching. If you cupped the water in your hand to drink, you could still be looking at what is in front of you. But if you ducked your head into the water, you could be taken by surprise. One way or the other, those that drank their water by bowing down were sent back. And today, we are told to be watchful, and to watching what is going on all around us.
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
The angel said for the churches to be watchful.
Luke 21:23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Luke 21:25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
Luke 21:26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Luke 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
We are commanded to be waiting and watching for imminent return of Christ. It may be tomorrow, but it might be today. No man knows the hour, but we can sure see the signs
about us that point to his soon return.
Gideon followed the command of the Lord, and it left him with just 300 soldiers to face the 135,000. Not too good of odds if you were looking for probabilities.
II. Gideonís 300 Men
Judg 7:7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
Judg 7:8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
God shows interest in the human needs of His servant Gideon. Gideon had become fully astonished and puzzled by what God had done to his army. Gut God gave him encouragement in two ways. First God says that by the 300 men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand. God was telling him that in spite of how impossible the odds looked, God would bring the deliverance to his chosen nation. Gideon did not have to wonder or be afraid. I thought of how useless the worry is that you and I have in our daily lives. Did God not say that he feeds even the sparrows, and are we not more important than sparrows? Of course we are. God even knows our needs before we pray, but we are still commanded to ask and pray.
Mat 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
Mat 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Mat 7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Mat 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
Mat 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Phil 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Judg 7:9 And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand.
Judg 7:10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
Judg 7:11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host.
God tells Gideon to walk down to the camp of the Midianites the following night and see what he might hear. He would hear the troops talking, and find out what was on their minds.
So Gideon goes into the camp, and overhears one of the men speaking of a dream he had about the upcoming battle.
Judg 7:12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.
Judg 7:13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along.
Judg 7:14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.
Judg 7:15 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.
The cake of barley bread signified the coming of Gideon. And the flattening of the tent by the barley cake signified Gideon being victorious when he came.
This conversation that Gideon overheard would greatly encourage him. It let him know that the Midianites were both aware of him as an opponent and even respectful enough of him for one of their number to interpret the dream.
As a result of this, Gideon gave thanks to God and returned to his small band, ready to move ahead. Sometimes you and I need to encourage our fellow brother or sister who may be down and out just a little bit. Life wears us all down at times, and if we can exhort and encourage one another in the work of the Lord, we have done a good thing.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
1 Cor 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
1 Cor 15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
1 Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
It is a great truth to realize that God can defeat our enemies by using them against themselves. God used the enemy to encourage Gideon, and neither of them knew God was using them for His purpose. Even the Kingís heart is in Godís hand, to make him move in a manner that pleases God.
Matthew Henry commented this about the barley cake dream.
Gideon, observing the finger of God pointing him to this very place, at this very time, to hear this dream and the interpretation of it, was exceedingly encouraged by it against the melancholy apprehensions he had upon the reducing of his army. He was very well pleased to hear himself compared to a barley-cake, when it proved to effect such great things. Being hereby animated, we are told (v. 15), 1. How he gave God the glory of it; he worshipped immediately, bowed his head, or, it may be, lifted up his eyes and hands, and thanked God for the victory he was now sure of, and for this encouragement to expect it. Wherever we are, we may speak to God, and worship him, and find a way open heavenward. God must have the praise of that which is encouraging to our faith, and his providence must be acknowledged in those events which, though minute and seemingly accidental, prove serviceable to us. 2. How he gave his friends a share in the encouragements he had received: Arise, prepare to march presently; the Lord has delivered Midian into your hand. 
III. The Victory over Midian
Judg 7:16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers.
Judg 7:17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do.
Gideon divides up his depleted number of troops into 3 small groups of 100 men each. Their weapons were not the sword or spear, but rather lamps, pitchers, and trumpets.
Judg 7:18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
Gideon tells them to follow his example. In Godís work, he often times uses broken vessels that he molds and makes into a vessel mete for the Masterís use. It is not always what we would expect, but God can use the weak things of this world to confound the wise.
1 Cor 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1 Cor 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1 Cor 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Each of us should so live a dedicated Christian life that we might encourage others to serve the Lord.
The men were told to blow the trumpet and shout ďThe Sword of the Lord and Gideon.Ē
Since the Midianites knew Gideon was moving in on them, his name would have some effect upon them.
Judg 7:19 So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.
There was obedience in Gideon and his army. So Gideon moved the three groups of 100 in to prepare for the attack in the beginning of the middle watch. So they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers in their hands. And as they did this, they cried out ďThe Sword of the Lord and Gideon.Ē
Judg 7:20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon.
Judg 7:21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
We are told that every man stood in his place. This is a lesson for us. In our battle with Satan in this world, God needs all of us to stand in his or her God appointed place, facing the enemy. If we are all willing to stand in our place of service, to do the things God would have us to do, the victory would be assured. But too many times we want to stand in someone elseís position. Perhaps the thing we all need to learn most is that God places the members where He chooses, and all of us are needful.
Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Rom 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
Rom 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Rom 12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Rom 12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Judg 7:22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.
So what was the result of Gideon and his men doing what God said? They had the victory. They so scared the Midianites that they fled without a battle, or even battled against one another. When God fights your battles, they are pretty easy to win. But go out on the arm of flesh, and you will be defeated on every hand. Iíll bet that some of those original 32,000 that went back thought Gideon was out of his mind to go to battle with 300, but God and 300 are a majority in any battle. As a matter of fact, you can even leave out the 300 and He is still a majority. No one can stay Godís hand. Not the world, not man, not even Satan.
Judg 7:23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.
After he defeat of the Midianites, Gideon called for men from the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, and Manasseh. He asked them to help him chase the fleeing people, and they came and responded to his call.
Judg 7:24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Bethbarah and Jordan.
It says that Gideon then sent messengers to the Ephraimites on the south and asked them to quickly seize the ďwaters unto Beth-barah and Jordan.Ē This probably referenced the streams that flow into the Jordan River from the west. Most likely, the Midianites would choose to cross one of these before moving over the Jordan itself. And the men of that tribe also responded. God is honored when we respond to the call of the Lord to do Godís work. It may seem minor and insignificant to you and I, but if God wants us to do it, we should be willing to be used.
Judg 7:25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.
It says they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb. They slew Zeeb at a winepress, and the Ephraimites pursued the enemy and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Joshua on the other side of Jordan. Perhaps the battle won by Gideon is one of the greatest victories ever recorded in the Bible. One thing was for sure, when it was over, the people knew that the battle was won by God, not by their might or their sword.
Internet Bible Studies are prepared and distributed free of charge. The lessons may not be sold without consent. If you have questions or wish to discuss the lessons, or possibly need help in finding Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, contact David Parham at 940-322-4343.
Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will be blessed.
Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.