God wants prepared men to fight God’s battles with God’s weapons in God’s way.
A Christian’s unfitness for the battle is often seen in the unconscious and trifling acts of his life,
which betray his utter lack of faith (v. 5).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled.
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 Beth-shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath.
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.
24 ¶ And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan.
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.
Judges 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Judges 7:1-8 – Quantity versus Quality
“There is no king saved by the multitude of an host”, Psalm 33:16. God does not need multitudes. It is false to say that He is “on the side of the heaviest battalions.” Read II Chronicles 14 and 23. Those that are fearful and trembling, because they look at the might of their enemies rather than to the eternal God, had better depart to their homes; they are an impediment and hindrance, and may, by an evil telepathy, slacken the faith of others. Those also who forget that they are soldiers, who put the ease of the body before the strenuous attitude of the soul, who think most and first of their physical indulgence, are of no use to God for great exploits. Send them to their tents; they can assist in the secondary work of pursuit.
It was a very little act—the attitude in drinking—but how much it meant! The 300 who caught up the water in the hollow of their hands, showed that they could not forget the foe; that they were resolved to subordinate bodily appetite to the spirit and dared not relax their girded loins. These are the men that God can use! But 300 of these are enough to rout 135,000, Judges 7:8-10. Live in the Spirit; walk in the Spirit; be always in touch with the Spirit, and make no provision for the flesh, Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:16. And be faithful, also, in very little actions. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Judges 7:9-23 – The Sword of Jehovah and of Gideon
Gideon asked for the sign of the fleece, but God, without his asking, gave him that of the barley-cake. It was only barley-bread, the cheapest and commonest kind of food, but it overthrew a tent. Gideon was quick to recognize the symbol of his weakness and helplessness, but he recognized also the presage of victory. Lying there in the moonless night, with his head toward that tent, he worshiped and hastened back to his camp. We remember what Jesus made of barley-loaves. See John 6:9, 13.
The blare of the trumpets, the breaking of the pitchers, the flashing of the lights, and the shouting from three sides of the camp startled the sleeping host into panic. Surely this scene was in Paul’s thought when he said that God’s light had shone forth on the midnight darkness of that age; and then confessed that the light was contained in the earthen vessel of mortality, “that the excellency of the power may be of God” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Let us not be too greatly disturbed when the sorrows and persecutions of earth break up our peace and strength—this is the breaking of the earthen vessel. Our business must be to see that the torch burns within, II Corinthians 4:6, etc. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Judges 7:13—A cake of barley bread.
Like most dreams, incoherent and grotesque! Who ever heard of a cake of barley bread upsetting a tent! To the dreamer and his comrade, there was no sense in it. But how much it meant to the two Hebrews, who had crept up to the other side of the curtain, in the thick darkness, and were drinking in each word!
The dream was very humbling.—It brought Gideon back to the simplicity and helplessness of his own resources. In the gathering of these crowds of warriors, in the notoriety he had achieved, in the loyalty of the three hundred, there was much to inflate his pride. Therefore God brought him face to face with himself. He was only a cake of barley bread at the best. Before God can uplift, use, and anoint us, He must show us what we are, humbling and emptying us, bringing us into the dust of death. Before God can use thee to work a great deliverance, He must convince thee of being only a cake of barley bread. “Five barley loaves, and two small fishes” (John 6:9).
It was full of hope.—A cake of barley bread might be a worthless thing; but if God were behind it, it would upset a tent! So when the weakest life is placed at the disposal of the Almighty, and taken in hand by Him, it becomes mighty to the pulling down of strongholds.
It is full of teaching.—How much has to be learned by us on these lines! We are too strong for God. We vaunt our might, we count our warriors, we magnify our generalship. This may not be! So God brings us down to the brook and tests us there; and reduces our force to three hundred men, and ourselves to barley-cakes, and there gets the victory with his right hand, and his holy arm. —Our Daily Homily