Focal Passage: Judges 8:22-35
Our text this week showcases the best and worst aspects of
Gideon’s life. This special man had just led the nation to victory over their
enemies, the Midianites. Three hundred men defeated an army that numbered over
135,000 men. It was a great victory, and it was carried out in such a way that
it left no doubt that God had performed it.
Following this spectacular victory, the Israelites said to
Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also; for you have
delivered us out of the hand of Midian” (Judges 8:22). Gideon had the good
sense to decline their offer to make him a king. Thomas Paine, in his epic work
Common Sense, explained how Gideon refused the Israelites offer of their crown
(the words in all caps were capitalized by Paine):
“‘I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over
you. THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU.’ Words need not be more explicit. Gideon
doth not decline the honour, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth
he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the
positive style of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper
Sovereign, the King of Heaven.”
What Paine did not mention, however, is that even though
Gideon turned down their offer to be king, he lived as if he was king.
He acquired a fortune in gold jewelry from the people as
well as purple royal garments worn by the kings of Midian. He even named one of
his sons Abimelech, which means “my father is a king.”
Success is seductive. Popular leaders are all around us,
even in the church. It is a sad reality that many people experience a major
crisis in their faith when their favorite preacher is no longer with them.
Our study of the life of Gideon does not end happily: “As
soon as Gideon died, the Israelites relapsed and prostituted themselves with
the Baals, making Baal-berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the
Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hand of all their enemies on
every side: and they did not exhibit loyalty to the house of Jerubbaal (that
is, Gideon) in return for all the good that he had done to Israel” (Judges
Sometimes great success can lead to great defeat.
What a shame it is to live a life in victory and power, to
the glory of God, just to see it all come to nothing because of foolish pride.
(EDITOR’S NOTE —
Coming soon readers will see the Oct. 2 lesson for Explore the Bible lesson, a
curriculum published by LifeWay. This Formations lesson will be the last lesson
from Formations, a curriculum printed by Smyth & Helwys Publishing.
LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life will continue to be printed.)