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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Judges 6

Verses 1-40

Gideon the Humble

Judges 6:0

I. At first sight the character of Gideon is a very inconsistent one. It seems to be composed of two opposite sides towering aspiration and drooping humility. Was there not imposed upon him a great, a responsible destiny a destiny which he must not seek to evade. Was he not bound to become the Saviour of Israel. So speaks the one side of his nature the aspiring side. But there is another side. This same Gideon is the most humble of men, the most shrinking, the most cowering, the most timorous. That a man capable of lofty aspirings should be as mistrustful of himself as if he were a village rustic this seems an unaccountable thing. But is the village rustic distrustful of himself. The rustic, in proportion as his rusticity is deep, is increasingly removed from humility. Humility is incompatible with absolute ignorance. There is then no contradiction but a beautiful harmony between the two sides of Gideon's character. So far from interfering with his humility his aspirations are the cause of his humility. It is the brightness of his ideal that makes him shrink in dismay. II. When Gideon has set himself right he proceeds to set right his people. Where does he begin? By changing their ideal of God. A man's religion is the root of his whole conduct. The first step to Gideon's success is effected not by material force, but by the power of spirit. When the worshippers of Baal come to the shrine in the morning, they find this sanctuary in ruins. They have no doubt that the perpetrator of the sacrilege is Gideon. Why then do they not put him to death? It is the very ruin of the shrine of Baal that makes them despise their idol. They cannot adore weakness even in their God. The effect of this silencing of Baal is the assembling of multitudes round the banner of Gideon. His ranks swell from day to day, till his adherents number thirty-two thousand. He reduces them to three hundred. He is jealous for God, jealous for the manifestations of the Divine power. He will not suffer human agencies to bear the credit of that help which he refers to God alone.

III. Every religious man wants to have the experience of strength from above. Gideon wished to have this experience. It was this that made him reduce his thirty-two thousand to three hundred. Here is a great paradox humility made a source of confidence! but it is a paradox that has its ground in truth. Timid men are humble; but humble men need not be timid. There is a humility which makes us bold Christian humility.

G. Matheson, Representative Men of the Bible, p. 150.

Judges 6:8

It is not merely for being redeemed that we are called on to feel thankful, but for being redeemed by the blood of the God-man Jesus Christ, which He poured out for us on the cross. So it was not simply as God that Jehovah was to be worshipped by the Jews; but as the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the house of bondage, whose voice they had heard and lived, who had chosen them to be His people, and had given them His laws, and a land flowing with milk and honey.

The last sentence has suggested a query of some importance. Out of the house of bondage: What says the advocate of colonial slavery to this? That the bondage was no evil? That the deliverance of a people from personal slavery was not a work befitting God's right hand?... To those religious men who are labouring for the emancipation of the negroes, amid the various doubts and difficulties with which every great political measure is beset, it must needs be an inspiring thought that to rescue a race of men from personal slavery, and raise them to the rank and self-respect of independent beings is, in the strictest sense of the word, a Godlike task; inasmuch as it is a task which, God's book tells us, God Himself has accomplished.

Hare, Guesses at Truth (1st Series).

Judges 6:11

What shifts nature will make to live! O that we could be so careful to lay up spiritual food for our souls, out of reach of those spiritual Midianites! We could not but live in despite of all adversaries.

Bishop Hall.

References. VI. 11. J. Sherman, Penny Pulpit, vol. v. p. 313. VI. 11-13. J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. ii. p. 171.

Judges 6:12

Though a great and momentous truth is involved in the saying, that when need is highest, then aid is nighest, this comfort belongs only to such as acknowledge that man's waywardness is ever crossed and overruled by a higher power.

Hare, Guesses at Truth (2nd Series).

'We are therefore,' writes Burke in his 'First Letter on a Regicide Peace,' 'never authorized to abandon our country to its fate, or to act or advise as if it had no resource. There is no reason to apprehend, because ordinary means threaten to fail, that no others can spring up. Whilst our heart is whole, it will find means or make them. The heart of the citizen is a perennial spring of energy to the state. Because the pulse seems to intermit, we must not presume that it will cease instantly to beat. The public must never be regarded as incurable.'

References. VI. 12, 13. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. ii. p. 374. VI. 14. Ibid., Sermons for the Church Year, vol. i. p. 130.

Judges 6:15

How the good man disparages himself! Bragging, and height of spirit, will not carry it with God. None have ever been raised by Him, but those which have formerly dejected themselves: none have been confounded by Him, that have been abased in themselves.

Bishop Hall.

After his return from India, as a young officer, in ill-health and depression, Nelson declares that, 'I felt impressed with a feeling that I should never rise in my profession. My mind was staggered with a view of the difficulties I had to surmount, and the little interest I possessed. I could discover no means of reaching the object of my ambition. After a long and gloomy reverie, in which I almost wished myself overboard, a sudden glow of patriotism was kindled within me, and presented my king and country as my patron. "Well, then," I exclaimed, "I will be a hero! And, confiding in Providence, I will brave every danger."'

References. VI. 19. J. W. Atkinson, Penny Pulpit, No. 1052. VI. 22-24. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No. 1679.

Judges 6:23-24

Peace may be sought in two ways. One way is as Gideon sought it, when he built his altar in Ophrah, naming it, 'God send peace,' yet sought this peace that he loved, as he was ordered to seek it, and the peace was sent in God's way: 'The country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.' And the other way of seeking peace is as Menahem sought it, when he gave the King of Assyria a thousand talents of silver, that 'his hand might be with him'. That is, you may either win your peace or buy it win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil.

Ruskin in The Two Paths.

References. VI. 24. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Judges, p. 225.

Judges 6:30 ; Judges 8:27

Where thou findest a Lie that is oppressing thee, extinguish it. Lies exist there only to be extinguished; they wait and cry earnestly for extinction. Think well, meanwhile, in what spirit thou wilt do it: not with hatred, with headlong selfish violence; but in clearness of heart, with holy zeal, gently, almost with pity. Thou wouldst not replace such extinct Lie by a new Lie, which a new Injustice of thy own were; the parent of still other Lies? Whereby the latter end of that business were worse than the beginning.

Carlyle, French Revolution.

Judges 6:35

They thronged after him and now professed themselves believers in Jehovah. They were not hypocrites. They really believed now, after a fashion, that Baal could not help them. Their fault was that they believed one thing one day and another thing the next.

W. Hale White, Miriam's Schooling, p. 7.

References. VI. 36-40. E. Paxton Hood, Sermons, p. 430. VI. 37. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Judges, p. 233. VII. 1-8. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture Judges, p. 236.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Judges 6". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/judges-6.html. 1910.