Posts Tagged ‘Gideon’

Judges 7: Following God’s Lead

Thursday, July 12, 2018

There is a value in reading scripture slowly while allowing time for reflection and meditation for in this way small themes are given time to blossom into guidelines for living.  Today we find a significant idea hidden in the story of the defeat of Midian and it is this.  God knows us so well that God forestalls human pride by asking us to rely on only God.  In today’s story God asks Gideon to whittle his troops from thirty-two thousand to three hundred.  And Gideon does this without questioning; he knows how reliable his God is.

The culling process here is an unusual method for an army.  On God’s instruction, Gideon first reminds his troops of the dangers of battle; later he watches how they drink water from the river.  He does not appear to question God’s wisdom and he shows no anxiety; he knows how reliable his God is.

Once the three hundred come together, Gideon gives them no more instruction than this: Watch me and follow my lead.  After the winnowing process, these loyal soldiers follow Gideon just as he follows the Lord; they know how reliable their God is.

Lying in wait outside the camp, Gideon and the third of the men who are with him overhear the telling of a dream by one of the Midian soldiers.  The ominous conclusion is that although the Midianites, Amalekites and Kedemites are numerous as locusts, and although their camels number more than the grains of sand in the desert, the Israelites will be victorious.  The Israelites show no angst about having reduced their number to three hundred; they know how reliable their God is . . . and the enemy flees.

The Lord pronounces to Gideon: You have too many with you for me to pronounce you successful lest you vaunt yourself against me and believe that your own power brought you victory.  This is the theme we see repeated often in Judges.  The people cry out for help, Yahweh hears their cry and rescues them, once the people feel comfortable in their own skill and power they turn back to the pagan Baals . . . and the cycle repeats again.  In Gideon’s story, we see the faith-filled soldiers put their trust in this God who has saved them countless times because . . . they know how reliable their God is.

So often I have sat in meetings and watched someone defend their right to make unilateral decisions, forgetting that all comes from God, even the gift of leadership.  I have watched these leaders struggle to bring others together behind their decisions not understanding that people follow best when decisions come from God rather than from human ego.  They have forgotten – or perhaps have never known – how reliable their God is.

We can rebel against these leaders or we can witness our own confidence in God to them.  The choice is always ours.  Rather than react in fear, we can act in reliance – just as Gideon does in today’s story, and just as his soldiers do – we can demonstrate to others through our lack of arrogance just how reliable is our God.

And so we pray . . . Powerful and loving God, you know us so well that you understand our tendency to take credit for your gifts.  You know that we are inclined to strut with pride when we are successful and complain in fear when we fail.  You know that we often believe in ourselves more than we believe in you.  Strip us of all hubris and arrogance; bring us humility and modesty.  Wipe away our anxiety and fill us with your love.  Remind us to follow your lead just as Gideon and his soldiers do.  Remind us that when we rely on ourselves alone . . . we forsake the gift of your wisdom and authority that you so freely give to those who follow you.  Tell us again what you have already shown us but that we have so quickly forgotten . . . that we need not fear anyone or anything . . . for we know how reliable our God is.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 21, 2011.

Image from: https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/1818-psalm-3/ 

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Judges 17: As We Are – Part I

Friday, December 18, 2015the lady with the pet dog

In this time of Advent, as we expect the coming of light and truth, we reflect on the stories of Judges. 

The stories in the Book of Judges describe the cycle the Hebrew people follow repeatedly – they sin, they fall into the servitude of another nation, they petition Yahweh for help, they are delivered by Yahweh, they fall into a silent relationship with Yahweh.  They sin again and the cycle is repeated.  In Judges, a series of leaders guide the people during times of great stress and they are: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Tola, Jair, Hepthah, Ibzan, Elon, Abdon and Samson.  Following these stories there is an epilog describing the nature of religious and moral disorder; and this is where we find ourselves today.  It seems that we human beings continually forget our tendency to fall away from God and as the writer of Judges says in 17:6: In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  He might be writing about today.

Several months ago, a friend handed me a reflection written by Dino Gerard D’Agata, and this line continues to draw me back to re-read it many times: I would wager that anyone who has ever had difficulty remaining faithful to a community, or faithful to a spouse and children, might admit – perhaps reluctantly – that the difficulty lies, not so much in the others, but in his own inability to accept what he sees about himself that becomes irrevocably reflected to him in time that it unavoidably spent with these others.  D’Agata goes on to use the short story of Chekhov – The Lady with the Pet Dog – as an example of this line of thinking.  The protagonist enters into a series of adulterous affairs with various women, we are told, despite the difficulties with logistics and inconveniences, and he realizes that all of the women he ever loved fell in love not with him but with an image they had of him.  D’Agata continues: I suppose if they had fallen in love with who he actually was, he would have accused them of eliciting the same boredom he claimed he found in his wife.  This man cannot live with himself as he is, nor does he improve his behavior; rather, he remains in relationship long enough to see himself as these women imagine him to be . . . and then he exits.  Is he unable to maintain the false version of himself?  Is he unwilling to see his true self?  How long is he able to skim through life, dipping into the surface of relationships without actually coming to grips with who he is and what he is doing?  Endlessly, it seems, but more importantly . . . are we like or unlike this man?

Tomorrow, intimacy with God . . . as we are.

A favorite from December 5, 2009.

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