too many troops
Judges 7:1-15 (JDV)
Judges 7:1 Jerubbaal (AKA, Gideon) and all the troops who were with him, got up early and camped beside the spring of Harod. The camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
Judges 7:2 Yahveh said to Gideon, “You have too many troops for me to hand the Midianites over to them, or else Israel might elevate themselves over me and say, ‘My own strength saved me.’
Judges 7:3 Now announce to the troops: ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling is allowed to turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'” So twenty-two thousand of the troops turned back, but ten thousand remained.
Judges 7:4 Then Yahveh said to Gideon, “There are still too many troops. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. If I say to you, ‘This one can go with you,’ he can go. But if I say about anyone, ‘This one cannot go with you,’ he cannot go.”
Judges 7:5 So he brought the troops down to the water, and Yahveh said to Gideon, “Separate everyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog. Do the same with everyone who kneels to drink.”
Judges 7:6 The number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouths was three hundred men, and all the rest of the troops knelt to drink water.
Judges 7:7 Yahveh said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the three hundred men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.”
Judges 7:8 So Gideon sent all the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred troops, who took the provisions and their trumpets. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley.
Judges 7:9 That night Yahveh said to him, “Get up and attack the camp, because I have handed it over to you.
Judges 7:10 But if you are afraid to attack the camp, go down with Purah your servant.
Judges 7:11 Listen to what they say, and then you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” So he went down with Purah his servant to the outpost of the troops who were in the camp.
Judges 7:12 Now the Midianites, Amalekites, and all the Qedemites had settled down in the valley like a swarm of locusts, and their camels were as innumerable as the sand on the seashore.
Judges 7:13 When Gideon arrived, he noticed a man telling his associate about a dream. He said, “Notice, I had a dream: a loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp, hit a tent, and it fell. The loaf turned the tent upside down so that it collapsed.”
Judges 7:14 His associate answered: “This is nothing less than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him.”
Judges 7:15 When Gideon heard the account of the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship. He returned to Israel’s camp and said, “Get up, because Yahveh has handed the Midianite camp over to you.”
too many troops
Often when we consider some new mission, we doubt our ability to do it because we don’t have enough support. Gideon had amassed a considerable army with which he intended to come against the Midianites. But God told him to reduce the number. When the army was reduced to a mere 300 men, God was satisfied, by Gideon was not sure that it was enough. But after a short spying out of the Midianite camp, Gideon realized that God had instilled fear into the Midianite army, and that fear would do the work of thousands of soldiers.
Gideon must have realized that the tests God required were in some way a response to his own insistence on testing God in the past. His greatest weakness was not lack of numbers, but lack of faith. God gently reveals enough to overcome his fear, and so bolsters his faith. As a result, Gideon worshipped.
LORD, thank you for gently walking us through the task you have given us, and making up for our weaknesses with your strength.