The Cynical - Page 3 (series: Lessons on Judges)
by John Lowe
7So Gideon said, “For this cause, when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!”--Judges 8.7 (KJV)
7 Gideon responded, “Alright, then. When the LORD hands Zebah and Zalmunna over to me, I'll whip your bodies with thorns and thistles from the desert.”--Judges 8.7 (GW)
So Gideon said, …In answer to the princes of Succoth:
“For this cause, when the LORD has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand …This he believed so firmly that to him it was as if it had already happened; he had no doubts about it because God made him a promise that he would deliver the host of Midian into his hand, and his faith rested upon that promise. Actually, he had already accomplished a great deal of it and so he believed that eventually, he would fulfill all of God’s promise 4(see Judges 7:7, 9).
then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!” which grew in a wilderness near this city, and Kimchi thinks that this city took its name from the wild thorns; and the gist of this verse is, either that he would scourge them with thorns and briers; or, as the Targum states he would thrust their flesh upon them; which Kimchi interprets as casting their naked bodies upon thorns and briers, and then treading on them with the feet; or draw a cart over them as they lay upon them. It was cruel torture that could end in death, to which captives were often subjected in ancient times, by having thorns and briers placed on their naked bodies and pressed down by sledges or heavy implements of husbandry being dragged over them. We can say with confidence that severe punishment is the subject, but we cannot say with certainty what is meant here, so we will defer further discussion of it until Judge. 8:16.
The warning he gave them here of how he would punish them for their crime was very fair. He did not punish them immediately, because he did not want to lose so much time from the pursuit of the enemy that were fleeing from him, and because he could do more to shame them when he had completed his undertaking, which they thought was impracticable. The threat he made against this city is reminiscent of the curse made earlier on the city of Munoz in Deborah’s time 5 (see Judges 5.23).
Many times the resistance we have in doing the Lord's work is from our friends. We can't let that hinder us.
4(see Judges 7:7, 9) “7Then the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped water I will save you and hand Midian over to you. All the other men should go home.”... 9 That night the LORD said to Gideon, “Attack! Go into the camp! I will hand it over to you.” God could have added, “I have determined to do it, and it is as sure as if it were done”.—Adam Clarke's Commentary
5(see Judges 5.23) “Curse Meroz, says the angel of the LORD, curse bitterly its inhabitants because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.”
8Then he went up from there to Penuel and spoke to them in the same way. And the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.--Judges 8.8 (KJV)
8 Then Gideon went to Penuel and asked the people there for the same help. But they gave him the same reply that the men of Succoth gave.--Judges 8.8 (GW)
Then he went up from there to Penuel …A place not far from Succoth, which was also situated in the territory of Gad, near the brook Jabbok; Jacob gave the place its name, after the Lord appeared to him there face to face, 6(Genesis 32:30) but now there was nothing of God in this place.
and spoke to them in the same way. He
asked for bread for his men, as he had of the inhabitants of Succoth. And the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered. They denied his request in the same scornful manner. The refusal of the men of Succoth and Penuel to help him was typical of the divided attitude of the Israelites at that time. Since no central power existed, the various cities and territories were a law unto themselves, and their refusal to help Gideon was tantamount to allying themselves with the Midianites against the Lord and His chosen deliverer.
_______________verse 8 notes____________6
(Genesis 32:30) “So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, ‘“For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.”’ Jacob gives a new name to the place; he calls it Peniel, the face of God because there he had seen the appearance of God, and obtained the favor of God. Observe, The name he gives to the place preserves and perpetuates, not the honor of his valor or victory, but only the honor of God’s free grace. He does not say, "In this place I wrestled with God, and prevailed;’’ but, "In this place I saw God face to face, and my life was preserved;’’ not, "It was to my praise that I came off a conqueror, but it was because of God’s mercy that I escaped with my life.’’ Note, it becomes those whom God honors to take shame to themselves, and to admire the condescensions of his grace to them.
9So he also spoke to the men of Penuel, saying, “When I come back in peace, I will tear down this tower!”--Judges 8.9 (GW)
9 So he told them, “When I come back after my victory, I'll tear down this tower.”--Judges 8.9 (GW)
Gideon, with a handful of pitiable folk was pursuing the common enemy, to complete the deliverance of Israel. His way led him through the city of Succoth first and afterward to Penuel. So he also spoke to the men of Penuel, saying …In a threatening way, as he had spoken to the men of Succoth. Their crime was great; consequently, Gideon, as a righteous judge, reprimands the insolence of these hostile Israelites. The men of Succoth and the men of Penuel were both in the tribe of Gad, on the other side of the Jordan, and both refused to help the common cause by refusing Gideon’s three-hundred some bread to alleviate their hunger and restore their strength.
When I come back in peace, I will tear down this tower!” Probably they had not only denied him but insultingly pointed to a tower, which was their chief defense; and indicated to him that any efforts he might exert to punish them would not succeed, because they could amply defend themselves. They placed their confidence in the strong tower that stood in their city; and when he threatened them, they boasted of it as their security. But, he told them how he would punish them and vowed to do it, to show the confidence he had of success by the strength of God, and that, if they had the least grain of grace and consideration left, they might upon second thoughts repent of their Foolishness, humble themselves, and contrive how to atone for their actions, by sending after him encouragement and supplies, which if they had done that, no doubt, Gideon would have pardoned them.
GOD GIVES NOTICE OF DANGER, AND SPACE TO REPENT, SO THAT SINNERS MAY FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME.
Gideon was so determined to complete the task God gave him, that he was focused on the pursuit of the Midianite Kings; for that reason, he was so afraid of losing time, that he postponed the vengeance they merited until his return. His confident anticipation of a triumphant return reveals the strength of his faith; and his specific threat was probably provoked by some proud and presumptuous boast, that in their lofty watchtower the Penuelites would have the wherewithal to resist any attack.
________________________verse 9 notes___________________________7
Having gotten the victory; that is, having conquered all his enemies, and delivered Israel from their bondage, and restored peace and prosperity to them