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The former Chapter was introductory to what is contained in this. Gideon was called in that to the Lord's service. And in this we find him entered upon it. We have here the Lord's directions concerning who should accompany him to the field of battle against Midian; how he should be sure of victory; how the Lord leads him by stealth to the camp of Midan, by way of strengthening his faith: and the event of the battle, in the Lord's delivering Midian into his hand.
We had in the preceding Chapter, the reason assigned for the change of Gideon ' s name. The change of names is common upon remarkable occasions. As Saul, after his conversion to the gospel, is called Paul. Jacob's name changed to Israel. Abram to Abraham. Hence there is a vast propriety in it. And indeed, it is one of the special promises to the church, that she should be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord should name. Isaiah 62:2 . And Jesus hath sweetly promised to new name his people, as a token of his favor. Revelation 3:12 . Oh! to be of that happy number!
Observe how graciously the Lord follows up the first tokens of his grace with the after actings of his favor. But I would have the Reader more particularly remark how the Lord deals with his people in the trials of their faith; even by a method which proves the reverse of human policy. While Midian was so numerous, who would have thought of lessening an army against them. But Reader! look at this scripture spiritually, and see if the same direction be not held forth to every warrior in the holy army of Jesus. Faith sends everything back but Jesus. All the success of the believer is in him, and in the power of his strength. "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, " is the motto of all the holy army in heaven. Revelation 12:11 .
The Reader will do well, in reading this scripture, to meditate what he may suppose passed in the mind of Gideon, when, out of thirty-two thousand, ten thousand only remained. And yet even of those ten thousand, the Lord declared them to be too many. Oh! it is sweet, when faith is enabled to see all in God's Christ, and nothing of human policy, or human strength mingled with it. The prophet felt this, I am persuaded, when he caused the sacrifice which was to be consumed with fire, to be first deeply drenched in water. And so did Paul, when he had learned to glory in his infirmities, that there might be more scope for the display of Jesus's strength. See 1 Kings 18:33-38 ; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 .
What a strange process, according to human ideas, was this of the Lord's, for pointing out to Gideon the army by which the Lord would conquer Midian. But Reader! turn your thoughts to a yet more astonishing process, when, by the cross of Jesus, the crown of salvation is obtained for his people. And still going on in the wonder-working plan of mercy, when by the foolishness of preaching, and the poverty of instruments, in a few dull and unlearned fishermen of Galilee, the Lord triumphs over all the wisdom of men. 1 Corinthians 1:21-29 .
This reminds us of the walls of Jericho, and the Holy Ghost hath caused to be recorded, that the victory was on one and the same account, and both by faith. See Heb_11:30; Heb_11:32-33 .
Observe, the gracious condescension of God, thus to furnish out means for the strengthening of Gideon's faith. Though the Lord Jesus is both the author and finisher of our faith, and all the faith his people have is of his own gracious giving; yet doth he mercifully arrange and order things for the strengthening and confirming that faith, which he himself hath planted in their hearts. Observe, how every event of this visit to the camp corresponded, as if to convince Gideon that all was of the Lord. The dream of one of the soldiers of Midian, and the interpretation of it by another, to say nothing of the safety of Gideon and his servants in going down unnoticed amidst this great host of foes; everything served to bring conviction to the mind of Gideon of the Almightiness of the Lord, and how sure he was of victory. Hence the impulse of worship which burst from his mind. Oh! how precious is it to trace the Lord's hand in all the Lord's ways, and to know ourselves; and all that concerns us, to be under his government and direction. Reader! the issue of this battle with the foes of thy salvation, though numerous as grasshoppers, is not doubtful, if so be thou fightest in Jesus's name, and in Jesus's strength. Remember his own sweet words, and in all skirmishes wear them on thine heart. John 16:33 .
As the Holy Ghost, in his own comment on this battle, (Hebrews 11:32 ,) hath pronounced it to be a battle of faith, we have his authority to mark the prominent features of it, agreeable to this account. And hence I do not think the subject at all overstrained, if we behold in it somewhat strikingly typical of the glorious battle fought by the Lord Jesus and his little army, over all the host of enemies which opposed our salvation. Was not the sword of our Jesus the sword of Jehovah, and of the man Christ Jesus? In his sacred person do we not behold both God and man? And, as in the army of Gideon there was neither sword nor spear, so in the army of our Jesus the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds. 2 Corinthians 10:4 .
The midnight hour is what is particularly spoken of, as a season of terror. Matthew 25:6 .
Nothing can be more evident than that the battle was the Lord's; for the army of Israel did nothing but alarm, make a great noise, and look on. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. Exodus 14:13-14 .
The Reader should particularly remark the expression, The Lord set every man ' s sword against his fellow. The terrors of the mind make the wicked flee, when no man pursueth. And thus the Lord's promises are fulfilled. For how otherwise should one of God's people chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them? Deuteronomy 32:30 .
Though the Lord would not suffer victory to be wrought by more than three hundred, yet all Israel shall be called to the spoil. And thus, when Jesus accomplished salvation for his church and people, the whole of his train are invited to the feast of joy. See Revelation 19:11-18 .
The church in after ages records God's mercies to Israel, respecting those princes; and prays that the like vengeance may be taken of all God's foes. Psalms 83:11 . The names of those princes, Oreb and Zeeb, were significant of the furiousness of their nature, signifying the raven and the wolf. And it is probable that the spots where they were taken, were made memorable to Israel in after ages.
IT is profitable to remark, how the Lord is graciously pleased to work by slender means for his people ' s deliverance. Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. In these precious memorandums of the church ' s history, may my soul learn how infinite the resources in the salvation of Jesus. Trumpets, and earthern pitchers, are effectual weapons when the Lord commissions them to conquest.
But oh! thou adored Redeemer! may I never lose sight of thy victory over death, hell, and the grave, when contemplating the gracious consequences of it in the triumphs of thy people. It is thine everlasting love, thy grace, thy righteousness, which hath laid the foundation of all thy people's deliverances, in every period of thy church. All the after-actings, in all the eventful circumstances which mark the church ' s history, are but the result of that love and mercy wherewith thou lovedest thy people before the earth was formed, and when thy delights were with the sons of men. Sweet and precious Jesus! how infinitely doth it enhance every blessing, and tend to endear every mercy, thus to trace it to its fountain head, in thee and in thy love to our nature! Oh! for grace in lively exercise, thus to live upon and walk with thee, my ever dear and beloved Saviour! May all my goings forth be in thee, and thy strength, the sword of Jehovah Jesus! And may all my victories be like those of the armies of heaven, through the blood of the Lamb. Even now, in the same faith as Gideon, in the assurance that the issue is not doubtful, may I send back all the strength which might appear ever so promising, and begin that song, as if the war was ended, which was heard in heaven, and which, ere long, I hope to sing in glory; Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; f or the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Judges 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany