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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
Devotional: April 5th
“A soft answer turneth away wrath.”
Judges 8:1-3 , Judges 8:22-27 , Judges 8:32-35
When there is a success, everybody thinks that he ought to have been in it, and blames somebody else that he was away. It is not quite so clear that had these complainers been invited they would have welcomed the invitation. Those who grow angry because they cannot claim a share in the honour, are usually the very persons who would have had least taste for the conflict.
A soft answer turneth away wrath. It showed a noble spirit in Gideon, that though the sole conqueror by right, he covets no monopoly of the praise, but even magnifies the exploits of others beyond his own. Better yield to absurd people, than engender strife among brethren.
Judges 8:22 , Judges 8:23
Here again Gideon shines. He had no eye to a dynasty, his eye was single for the Lord only. At the same time, it is natural that our deliverer should be our ruler, and if the Lord Jesus has indeed set us free from sin and Satan, it is but meet and right that he should rule over us.
What a pity that so good a man, with so good a motive, should do so wrong a thing. What need or right had he to fashion sacerdotal garments, when the only highpriest was elsewhere, and was adorned with all needful priestly robes and ornaments? A world of evil has come into the world through priestly dress. There is One Priest above arrayed in glory; how foolish and how wicked to dream of making priestly vestures for mortal men.
From worshipping God in a wrong way, to the worship of a wrong god, is an easy step. Alas! Gideon, what evil didst thou do.
It is no wonder if those who forget God, forget also all others to whom they are indebted. This chapter practically admonishes us to keep close to God’s rules of worship as laid down in Scripture, for the slightest divergence therefrom may lead to deadly errors and innumerable evils.
Lord, from habits keep me free
Which incline the least to sin,
Lest they prove a snare to me,
And my soul be held therein,
Reverent to thy sacred will,
May I all thy word obey;
Shun the very shade of ill,
From each idol turn away,
“My people are bent to backsliding from me.”
Judges 5:6 , Judges 5:7 , Judges 5:9-18
It is clear that afflictions are unavailing to change the heart; their best results are only temporary, and as soon as they are withdrawn, men return to their old ways,
The multiplicity of these idols should have provoked the scorn of those who knew the one only living and true God; but such is the besotting influence of sin that the Israelites became universal image-worshippers. The rites used in the adoration of many of these false deities were to the last degree degrading, and this rendered Israel’s sin all the more heinous. Observe, that they forsook Jehovah altogether when they became votaries of idols; men cannot serve God and Mammon; and where falsehood enters, truth leaves in disgust.
As they idolized on all sides, so were they oppressed on all sides on the west by Philistines, and on the east by Ammonites.
When all alike were crushed beneath the heavy yoke of the oppressor, their cry went up to heaven with great vehemence.
Past favours aggravate present rebellion. If God had dealt hardly with them, there might have been some excuse for forsaking him, but it was base to turn from him after so much help received. O how often might the Lord have said to us, “I will deliver you no more.”
This was but justice, but what a dreadful sound it must have made in Israel’s ears. Suppose the Lord should deal thus with us and beat us back to the false confidences and sinful pleasures which we have at any time set our hearts upon. Imagine his saying, “Go to your self-righteousness for comfort” ”turn to your merrymakings or to your money bags” what would desponding souls be able to reply?
It was their wisest course to confess their sin, and surrender at discretion. Every awakened penitent should do the same.
This practical reformation proved the sincerity of their repentance. True repentance is not only for sin, but from sin. Those who turned to worship the Lord, even though he continued to smite them, were genuine penitents. Not long would the Lord retain his anger when he saw his people in so hopeful a condition of heart. He loves them too well to retain his wrath against them.
Under renewed invasion the downtrodden Israelites assembled in self-defence, but they were without a leader. They agreed to submit to the rule of any man who would be bold enough to commence the conflict against their cruel enemy. At this juncture the Lord raised up Jephthah, and through his instrumentality answered their prayers.
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