Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Judges 7

Verses 1-25

Chapter 7

So in chapter seven,

[when] Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and they pitched beside the well of Harod ( Judges 7:1 ):

Now the well of Harod is still there today. It is at the base of Mount Gilboa or in the range of Gilboa, actually Gilead is all a part of that range and there at the base is this beautiful little spring with water that comes flowing forth. There's a kibbutz there now and the people at the kibbutz had made a neat big swimming pool, huge pool and the spring now feeds the pool. And there is this little stream by there and you can still go down and lap up the water like a dog if you like and be chosen for Gideon's army.

And so the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley ( Judges 7:1 ).

So out from Mount Gilboa area there is this valley there. And the other side of the valley this little hill of Moreh. It isn't really a mountain but a hillside, and encamped in that valley was this huge host of the Midianites.

The LORD said unto Gideon, Gideon you've got too many people for me to give the Midianites into their hands ( Judges 7:2 ),

Now at this point there were a hundred and thirty-two thousand Midianites and there were about a hundred thirty-five Midianites, thirty-two thousand who had gathered together with Gideon. God said, "You've got too many people."

lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand has saved me ( Judges 7:2 ).

Now, the thing that God was concerned in is that people would glory in the work of God and take glory to themselves for the work of God. God wants to work. But when God works he wants the glory for the work that He has done. He doesn't want people praising the instrument; He wants people praising Him. And if God would deliver the Midianites into the hands of Gideon's army with thirty-two thousand men, they would go around taking glory for the victory instead of giving glory to the Lord.

Now it was interesting when we were in Israel prior to nineteen seventy-three, the Israelis were extremely proud of the nineteen sixty-seven war. They were very proud of their victory over the Syrians, the Egyptians and the Jordanians. Everywhere you went you would hear the Israelis boasting of their tremendous fighting power. And we would often times say, "Well don't you think that God was with you?" And they would smirk and they would tell of the fighting power of the Israeli soldiers and they were really glorying themselves in that victory.

In the Yom Kippur war there came a different attitude. They came within a hair's breadth of being defeated in nineteen seventy-three in the Yom Kippur War. They were close to defeat. They were very smug, they felt that the barlev line down the Suez Canal could not be taken. It fell within twenty-four hours. They thought that their fortifications on the Golan Heights were impenetrable. They crossed within the first twenty-four hours. And Israel was at the brink of defeat in the Yom Kippur War and it was only a series of miracles that the nation was spared. And so after the Yom Kippur War there wasn't so much talk anymore about the Israeli army and it's powers and so forth but there was more talk about God after the Yom Kippur War. Now after the next war when they wipe out Russia there's only gonna be talk of God because they'll know that that's the only way it could've happened.

God often times makes things so ludicrous that it's very obvious that only God could have done it. And so God declares that the time of the army Russian defeated He said, "And I will be sanctified before the nations of the world and they will know that I am the God of Israel." Now, we are trembling before Russia, we're really afraid to say to Russia, "Get out of Afghanistan or we're gonna send our troops over there and drive you out." We're afraid to say that. We are afraid of a confrontation with Russia because we know the tremendous military might of Russia today. We know the nuclear warheads, we know of the rockets, we know of all their sophisticated weaponry and we're fearful of a confrontation with Russia. The world is trembling before this tremendous military power. And when Israel utterly wipes them out you'll know that there's only one reason for it and that's God.

So God often in the history of Israel made the odds totally ludicrous because these are a proud people and if God would deliver the Midianites into the hand of Gideon with thirty-two thousand they would go around bragging on their tremendous fighting ability. We were outnumbered five to one by men we wiped them. So God said, "Gideon you've got too many. If I deliver the Midianites into their hands, they're gonna vaunt themselves, they're gonna be puffed up and proud of what they have done." And they'll say, "We with our own power, our own hand have saved ourself."

So go out, and proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead ( Judges 7:3 ).

And so of the thirty-two thousand that came to fight with Gideon, twenty-two thousand were afraid to fight so they went home. Now there was a reason that God wanted to get rid of the fearful. It's not good to have men who are really frightened in the battle lines with you, for they're apt to panic in a time of crises and to flee and leave that flank exposed.

So, God first got rid of the fearful.

[Looking now over the ten thousand] the LORD said to Gideon, The people are still too many Gideon ( Judges 7:4 );

They're still apt to bolster themselves. Odds of thirteen to one, too many Gideon, you've got to get rid of some more. I don't want Israel glorying in this. I want the glory for this. "So take them down to the water, the water that comes out of the water of Herod there and let them get a drink. And you watch them as they are drinking and those that get down and put their face in the water, send them home. But those that pick the water up in their hand and lap it out of their hand like a dog, with these men will I deliver the Midianites into your hands."

So Gideon took them down to the little stream that flows out from the well of Herod, watched the men as they drank their water. And three hundred men picked it up in their hands and lapped it as a dog. Nine thousand, seven hundred got down on all fours and put their face in the water and were sent home.

And God said, [Now with these three hundred] will I deliver the Midianites into your hand. And so the Lord said to Gideon, If you're afraid to go down; then take your servant and you slip down tonight to the host of the Midianites and you just listen ( Judges 7:9-11 )

So Gideon had fear about this whole thing and who wouldn't. At this point you've got three hundred men and that huge army out there. And so Gideon, with his servant, the army was like grasshoppers before a multitude; camels without number. And so Gideon came close to the camp at night and outside of a tent he was listening with his servant and there was a man inside who was telling his dream.

He said, I had a [weird] dream. There was a cake of barley bread it tumbled into the host of Midian, and it came unto a tent, and it smote it that it fell, and overthrew it, and the tent lay along. And the fellow [who could interpret dreams] 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 of the host. And so it was, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation, that he worshipped, and he returned to the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD has delivered into your hand the host of Midian ( Judges 7:13-15 ).

Now Gideon first of all was testing to make sure the angel-let me bring out an offering and he saw the miracle there. Then he put out the fleece and now here's the final thing, he slips down and God confirms that once more. And so there are actually three confirmations to the call of God to Gideon.

And so he divided the three hundred men into three companies, he put a trumpet in every man's hand, with empty pitchers, lamps within the pitchers. He said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: when we come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, ye shall do. When I blow the trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye your trumpets also on every side of the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the three hundred men that were with him, came to the outside of the camp beginning in the middle watch; [about midnight] they have but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, they broke the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, held the lamps in their left hands, the trumpets in their right hands to blow: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all of the host ran, and cried, and fled ( Judges 7:16-21 ).

Now Gideon's men just stood there blowing their trumpets and holding up the pitchers. And the Midianites became so startled and so discomfited, they began swinging their swords at each other in the darkness and in the confusion. They began to wipe each other out and they began to run while Gideon and his men were just standing there blowing their trumpets. God has interesting ways of turning the enemy on his heel.

And so the three hundred blew their trumpets, and the LORD set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled... And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of Manasseh, and they pursued after the Midianites. And Gideon sent out messengers throughout all of mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters to Bethbarah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters to Bethbarah and Jordan. And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb: and they slew Oreb upon a rock, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and they pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side of Jordan ( Judges 7:22-25 ).

AND the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why have you served us thus, why didn't you call us, when you wanted to fight with the Midianites? And they began to chide him sharply ( Judges 7:22-25 ; Judges 8:1 ).

And we get into that next week. The problem we had with Ephraimites because he didn't call them. Well, he had called them, they didn't respond but that's all part of next week's story. And we'll move on in the book of Judges and getting to that interesting character of Samson also next week.

Shall we stand.

Important things to remember from tonight's lesson. Number one, God has a work to do, He's calling for your help. Noninvolvement in the work of God will bring a curse upon your life. When God does His work, He wants it done in such a way as He receives the glory from it. God doesn't want you front stage taking vows for his performance as people are so often prone to do. Taking credit for what God has done, taking glory for what God has wrought. God does not want to share His glory. He wants the glory for the work that He has accomplished. And that is why He goes to such ridiculous measures. That's why He refuses such ridiculous instruments so that the instrument isn't prone to glory in himself but can only glory in God who has done His work. God uses unlikely people and weird situations to accomplish His work in order that men will glory in God rather than in the genius, the brilliance or whatever of men as we are so prone to do.

Learn the lesson of serving the Lord. Don't turn from Him to other gods. "For as long as he sought the Lord," the scripture said concerning Asa, "God made his way to prosper." As long as you seek the Lord, God will be with you and bless you. But if you forsake the Lord then He will forsake you. You'll go into captivity; you'll be oppressed by the enemy. Many of our problems are brought on by ourselves. We have been guilty of forsaking God and it only invites trouble. Walk with the Lord and He will walk with you. And may you walk with Him this week. And may you experience His power, His presence and His spirit as He works in your life and as He works through your life, His works in this needy world. May God make you an instrument of His love, that through you others might experience God's love for them as you show God's love to them.


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Judges 7". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.