Chapter 19: An Angel Sends Gideon to Deliver Them - Page 3 (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
Thou mighty man of valour. Gideon probably had a stout body, and a naturally courageous mind, and might at this instant have an increase both of bodily strength and greatness of soul, since the angel said this to animate and encourage him to do what he was about to be sent to do.
The angel treated him with respect, and assured him of the presence of God with him. He calls him a mighty man of valour, perhaps because he observed how he threshed his corn with all his might; a man diligent in his business? Whatever his business is shall stand before kings. He that is faithful in a few things shall be ruler over many. Gideon was a man with a brave active spirit, and yet he was buried alive in obscurity, through the great injustice and extreme immorality of the times; but here he is enlivened by those five words “The Lord is with thee” to undertake something great, or, as the Chaldee reads it, the Word of the Lord is thy help. It was very sure that the Lord was with him when this angel was with him. By His words:
1. He gives him his commission. If we have God’s presence with us, this will justify us and bear us out in our undertakings.
2. He inspires him with all necessary qualifications for the execution of his commission. "The Lord is with thee to guide and strengthen thee, to animate and support thee.”
3. He assures him of success; for, if God be for us, who can prevail against us? If he is with us, nothing can be wanting to us. The presence of God with us is all in all to our prosperity, whatever we do. Gideon was a mighty man of valor, and yet he could bring nothing to pass without the presence of God, and that presence is enough to make any man mighty in valor and to give man courage at any time.
While it cannot be denied that Gideon became a man of great faith who led his people to victory, it should also be noted that the idea of fear runs like a red thread throughout the story of Gideon’s life (cf. vss. 11, 22, 27; 7:3, 10; 8:20). Gideon started out being afraid of the Midianites; he doubted the promise of the angel of the Lord; he constantly asked for signs and fleeces; he was afraid to throw down the altar of Baal, so he did it by night; he sent home the fearful in his army but, nevertheless, ended up with an army of cowards and ultimately discovered that the enemy was more afraid of him than he was of them; and, finally, he scared the Midianites into a fear so great that they destroyed themselves! A careful reading of the text will reveal that this is not at all a far-fetched explanation. Even the words that the angel spoke to Gideon calling him “thou mighty man of valor” are received by Gideon as if they were a joke. He reminded the angel that if the Lord was with them why then is all this befallen us? It must be remembered that this was a new generation who had not seen the miracles of the past. Unfortunately, it is very easy to question the genuineness of a miracle when one has not seen it for himself.
The Angel told this “mighty man of valor” that God would use him to deliver Israel from Midian. Despite Gideon’s protests, the Angel repeated his call to this important task.
Don’t tell me, that there is no humor in the Bible. Don’t you think it sounds humorous to call Gideon a mighty man of valor? God has a wonderful sense of humor. The Bible is a serious book, of course. It deals with a race that is in sin, and it concerns God’s salvation for that race. It reveals God as high and holy and lifted up. But God has a sense of humor and, if you miss that in the Bible, you will not find it nearly as interesting.
Jesus Christ also has a great sense of humor. One day He said to the Pharisees, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Matt. 23:24). If you don’t think that is funny, the next time you see a camel, look at it. A camel has more projections on it than some of our space vehicles. I rode a camel at the zoo and found out they even have horns. They also have the biggest Adam’s apple in the world. They have pads on their knees, great big hoofs, and some have one hump, and some have two humps. Everywhere you look at them there is a projection. Can’t you see these religious rulers trying to swallow camels? God indeed has a sense of humor.
One of the funniest things the Lord could have called Gideon was a mighty man of valour because he was actually a coward. I think that when Gideon looked up and saw Him and heard Him say, “Thou mighty man of valour,” he looked behind him to see if there wasn’t somebody else there, because that term did not apply to him. And then he turned to the angel and said, “Who? Me? Do you mean to call me a mighty man of valor when I am down here at the winepress pitching grain up into the air when I ought to be up yonder on top of the hill? If I were a mighty man of valor, that is where I would be, not down here. I am nothing in the world but a coward.” The Lord does want to encourage him, of course, but the point is that it was a rather humorous title that the Lord gave to this man.
Well, God has called him now to this office to deliver his people, and He has called a most unusual man. This man is suffering from an inferiority complex.
13 And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. (KJV)
13Gideon responded, “Excuse me, sir! But if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all the miracles our ancestors have told us about? Didn't they say, ‘The LORD brought us out of Egypt?' But now the LORD has abandoned us and has handed us over to Midian.” Judges 6:13 (GW)
And Gideon said to him, oh my Lord. At this point he does not believe he is talking to an angel, but some illustrious and eminent person.
Gideon gave a very downhearted answer to this joyful salutation: "O my Lord! if the Lord be with us why then has all this befallen us?" all this trouble and distress from the Midianites’ incursions, which force me to thresh wheat here by the wine-press—all this loss, and grief, and fear; and where are all the miracles which our fathers told us of?” This speech is remarkable for its energy and simplicity; it shows a measure of despondency, but not more than the circumstances of the case justified.
This man is in a bad state mentally and a bad state spiritually. Actually, he not only had an inferiority complex, he was skeptical, he was cynical, he was weak, and he was cowardly. That is this man Gideon. What a wrong impression is given of him today when he is described as a knight in shining armor, a Sir Lancelot, or a Sir Galahad. Why, he was nothing in the world but a Don Quixote charging a windmill. He was the biggest coward that you have ever seen. But this was the man that God called to service, and the angel called him a mighty man of valour, but at this point he is weak in faith, which makes it hard for him to reconcile in his mind the assurances now given him of the presence of God,
If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? Gideon's language betrays a lack of careful thought, for the very chastisements God had brought on His people showed His presence with, and His interest in, them. His question is referring to all these troubles and calamities that have come through the oppression of the Midianites; for he understood what was said to him in the salutation, respecting not himself personally and privately, but the people of Israel; and he did not know how to reconcile the Lord's being with them, with suffering such sad things from the hand of the Midianites.
Where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt. When God was with his people, and brought them out of Egypt, and He did certain miracles for them, whereby they were delivered out of their bondage; their fathers had assured them of this, but nothing of this kind was done for them now, and therefore there was no appearance of the Lord being with them, but to the contrary, everything seemed to go wrong for them. This was not due to distrust, but grew out of their weakness of faith, which is in the most perfect people: for no man in this life can have a perfect faith: yet the children of God have a true faith, by which they are justified.
But now the Lord has forsaken us, and delivered us into the hand of the Midianites. And there was good reason for it, because they had forsaken the Lord, and worshipped the gods of the Amorites.