Gideon’s army


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After Gideon raised an army to battle the Midianites the first thing God did was reduce the size of it so they wouldn’t think that they had won a victory by their own power. The first step in this reduction was to send home all those who are afraid. This eliminated 22,000 of the soldiers and left only 10,000.

But God thought that 10,000 men was still too many. Joshua 7:5-7 shows how he reduced the army even further:

So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.”

And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”

The reason for the first reduction and sending away the 22,000 is obvious. Anyone who as afraid wouldn’t be an effective fighter. But what was the point of the second test?

Those who dipped up the water with their hands could still be watching out for an enemy attack while they were drinking but the ones who knelt down couldn’t and would have been unprepared if the enemy had attacked then. Those who were eliminated were the exact opposite of those who had been eliminated before. The first group was afraid; the second group was not only not afraid but they were completely indifferent to danger.

The 300 who were finally chosen avoided both of these extremes. They weren’t afraid of the enemy but they still remained alert to possible attacks. Christians today are involved in a spiritual war against the forces of Satan and if we are to fight effectively we must also avoid being either afraid or overconfident.