God chooses 300 out of 22,000 to defeat the Midianites (1-8)
God once again reassures Gideon by giving him a sign (9-14)
The plan of “attack” is formed (15-18)
God confuses and routes the Midianites (19-23)
The people of Ephraim help in the ensuing battles (24-25)
I. Verses 1-8
What does “Jerubbaal mean again?
Why did God say the people were too many?
Did they outnumber the Midianites?
What would the Israelites have said if they won with this number of people?
Why was this a problem?
What is so bad about trusting in yourself and being self-confident?
Is it bad to be self-confident?
Does this mean we should not have confidence?
What is the right attitude to have?
Was this a unique situation with the war or is this “no boasting” principle true in other areas? Like what?
Why do you think God first sorted out the people who were afraid?
Ephesians 2:8-9 – Not by works so that one can boast.
1 Samuel 14:6 – Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or a few.
Isaiah 2:11, 2:17, Jeremiah 9:23- The boastful will be brought low. The strong and wise should not boast.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 – He chose the low things of the world to confound the wise so let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.
Deuteronomy 8:17 – You might say it is your strength that let you get the wealth, but it is God who gives this ability.
Psalms 33:16-19 – No king is saved by the size of his army. A horse is false hope for deliverance. It is God who saves.
Deuteronomy 20:8 – It was sometimes a practice to let the weak/fainthearted leave before a battle so that they wouldn’t effect others.
Verse by Verse Commentary
God didn’t want them to be boastful. If they had a big army and won they could easily think it was by their own strength and would naturally take the credit for themselves and grow prideful. In the world, people think self-confidence and trusting in themselves and their own power is a very good thing, but actually it is a very bad thing. As happens here, God often goes far out of His way to ensure that we have no legitimate excuse for boasting. Instead of having self-confidence, we should have God-confidence. Some unbelievers might say, “Oh you believers don’t have self-confidence! You just go around moping and always thinking how weak you are. How can you ever get anything done? How can you advance in the world?” But believers are not to have zero self-esteem. We actually do have great value. We have value because God says we have value. God loves us. This is where we find our value. What’s more, because we are confident in God we can show boldness and act with confidence in situations where the very bravest unbeliever would shudder. God-confidence is why thousands of Christians could stare death in the face without shuddering. It is why some missionaries and preachers could continue singing while being burned alive. It is why Christians did not deny their faith even when the lions were charging. The properly God-confident person may appear even much bolder than an unbeliever. Why? Because he has faith. God, the Creator of the universe, is unseen at his side. God designed many things in the world just to keep us from being able to boast (such as salvation). Boasting is abhorrent to God for a number of reasons. It is like lying. It is pride. It is taking glory away from God, who deserves it. It is deceptive because it doesn’t recognize that we are weak and are sinners. Read cross-references, ask questions, and discuss in detail. Discuss what areas we tend to be boastful in and how we can replace this boastfulness with humility. Practical application.
God’s way is often complete different, the total opposite, from man’s way. Man would try to get together as large an army as possible, but God is making it as small as possible. We should not let our lives be ruled through man’s logic. A house built without the Lord is built in vain. The strategy/method is far less important than the heart, relying on God with faith.
It wasn’t the first time timid were released before the battle. This was another side effect of trimming down the army. These people lacked faith so God wasn’t going to use them. Because they lacked faith it is likely they would have failed to obey God in critical times and a disaster brought about by their disobedience and fear would ensue. As we often see in Scripture, God doesn’t need the elite or super talented or super strong, but He does generally use those who have strong faith in Him.
Why was 10,000 too many?
Who decided who went and who stayed?
Why do you think God chose this method to separate the people and pick out 300?
Isaiah 35:3-4 – A prayer for God to strengthen His people.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – God’s grace was sufficient for Paul’s weakness.
Verse by Verse Commentary
God decided who went and who stayed. Gideon was the visible commander and God was the invisible commander.
MacArthur says “Three hundred men win against an incredible Midianite host. God gains the glory by making the outcome conspicuously His act, and no sinful pride is cultivated.”
Some have this was a way to separate out the more alert soldiers (lapping the water from hands would allow them to keep watching their environment) from those who were less alert. It could be, but it is definitely not necessary for God to use some super soldiers. As we see, God routed the enemy army without them even “firing a shot.” (swinging a sword in that day’s vinacular). Perhaps more alert soldiers could sneak up to the camp better. Nonetheless it is mostly speculation why God chose this way to separate the army. Even if God did do it because of a certain trait He wanted to use, all the credit still goes to Him for knowing about this and miraculously confusing the Midianite army.
Why did God want Gideon to go down to the camp?
Any similarities with previous things we have seen in the relationship between God and Gideon?
What does this show us about God’s character? How about Gideon’s character?
How many of the enemy was there?
How can the timing and content and interpretation of the dream be explained?
Verse by Verse Commentary
God knows man intimately. He knew from the beginning Gideon’s fearful tendencies. Instead of just casting him out or rebuking him, He graciously continued to reassure Gideon and cultivate his faith step by step. Sanctification is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. God begins a good work in us and then will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ. It is very interesting to see God perfecting Gideon and working in him throughout this whole story. Indeed, Gideon is transformed from a fearful wheat beater, to a mighty warrior as God said at his first greeting. God is compassionate, knows our weaknesses, and wants those turned into strengths. So if you are weak in certain areas, and you are, don’t just give up. A righteous person falls seven times and arises again. Seek help from the Lord and His Word. Let your weaknesses be turned to strengths by His power.
The dream and interpretation were supernaturally given at just that time for Gideon’s benefit.
The servant could go with Gideon for protection and added confidence.
Even the people of Midian knew about God. They knew of the God of the Hebrews, but just didn’t follow Him.
Hebrews 13:6-7 – If God is for me, what can man do to me. Also, leaders lead by example.
What was Gideon’s response to the dream?
Explain the plan of Gideon for defeating the Midianites.
What do you think the effect of this would be on sleeping Midianities?
What would they think is going on?
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The plan is an ingenious one (probably given by God). It makes perfect sense and is logical. Explain the idea. Yet even so the chances of success would be extremely minimal aside from God’s providence. The most likely result apart from God would be a couple of minutes of wild panic followed by a realization that the opposing force was small and easy to defeat. This realization would have been followed by a charge and a quick defeat of their forces. But, God was behind it. God intensified ten fold their normal panic to the point where they wildly retreated at all costs even through their own men.
Joshua 6 – Blowing the trumpets around Jericho.
What did happen when this plan was executed?
Why could it work so well? (Because of God. According to MacArthur, “Here was the power of God in harmony with the obedience of man. Such shouts reminded the enemies that the threat of the sword of Gideon and of God was for real. The impression was one of doom and terror. Panic followed shock. Every soldier was on his own, in desperate retreat. In the darkness and crash of sounds the soldiers were unable to distinguish friend from enemy, and with their swords they slashed a path of escape through their own men.”)
Don’t you think its a coincidence that Oreb was killed at the rock of Oreb and Zeeb and the win press of Zeeb? o
Verse 22. The Lord set the sword one against the other.
“Here was the power of God in harmony with the obedience of man. Such shouts reminded the enemies that the threat of the sword of Gideon and of God was for real. The impression was one of doom and terror. Panic followed shock. Every soldier was on his own, in desperate retreat. In the darkness and crash of sounds the soldiers were unable to distinguish friend from enemy, and with their swords they slashed a path of escape through their own men.”