“But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host:” —Judges 7:10
Have you ever felt inadequate in any service to the Lord? Have you ever been afraid of unbelieving men? Have you ever felt unworthy of the Lord’s calling? Have you ever doubted whether you were even hearing from the Lord? Were you ever afraid of failing miserably in the huge task that you know the Lord has called you to do? If you have ever felt like that, then take heart dear soul, as Jehovah has used servants just like you. Gideon is a great example of a frightened man who feared the Lord.
We first encounter Gideon threshing wheat in a winepress (Judges 6:11-12). Normally, wheat threshing takes place on a hill with sufficient wind to blow away the chaff. Gideon, however, was afraid of the Midianites, who oppressed the people of Israel. Though Gideon was afraid, God told him to go against the Midianites in his strength (which he didn’t have… because he was afraid), Judges 6:14 (ESV),
And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?”
But Gideon did not think himself worthy (Judges 6:15).
Gideon also doubted whether he was hearing from the Lord, first asking the Lord that he might set out a fleece in the evening and that it would be wet in the morning when all the ground around it remained dry. God made it so. Then Gideon asked that he could do this again, only this time he asked that the fleece remain dry while all the ground around the fleece was wet from the dew. God also made it to be so (Judges 6:36-40).
Gideon was afraid that he might fail in this task. God had been whittling down the army of Israel, first, allowing all those who were afraid to leave, bringing the number down from 32,000 soldiers to 10,000 (Judges 7:3). But that was too many soldiers for the Lord so He commanded that Gideon take the people down to the water; whereas those that knelt stayed and those that got down on all fours to drink were sent home, bringing the number down to three hundred (Judges 7:7). Now, I believe that these men who knelt were not the ones “alert” for danger; these were the guys with the bad backs, knees, and ailments; these were the overweight guys who just couldn’t spring up at a moment’s notice. Why would I suggest that? Gideon was even more afraid to fight the Midianites, for in Judges 7:9-10 (ESV) the LORD said to him,
“Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp.”
What did Gideon do? He went down into the camp to see if those things that God said were so (Judges 7:11-14).
God uses weak, pathetic, frighten souls like Gideon— and you and I too, for His greatest glory. The battle is and was the Lord’s. He sent the Midianites to Israel to bring them repentance so that they would cry out unto Jehovah (Judges 6:1-9). To deliver Israel from the oppression of the Midianites, God was going to do it by the power of His own might through a mere 300 unlikely men led by a frightened man that feared the LORD.
When we revere the Lord our God, we will see the hand of the Lord accomplishing His will and good pleasure. Quite often, God actually chooses us because we are weak, doubting and frightened. It doesn’t mean that we just give up and God will do it all. Gideon kept moving forward in the LORD, submissive to His will, and fearing the LORD’s name. We should do likewise.