Gideon’s Victory over Midian
Gideon’s Army Reduced to Three Hundred (7:1-8)
1 And Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, arose early, and all the people that were with him, and they encamped beside the spring Harod; and he had the camp of Midian on the north by the hill of Moreh in the valley.
2 And Jehovah said to Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give Midian into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. v.2 The Lord wanted Gideon to realize that the glory of the victory over Midian must go to God. He will not share His glory with man.
3 And now proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is timid and afraid, let him go back and turn from mount Gilead. And there went back of the people twenty-two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. v.3 The first “filter” that Gideon was to use to reduce his army had to do with courage. God uses those who trust him. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). It is interesting that Gideon himself struggled with fear (v.10), but the Lord helped him to overcome it.
4 And Jehovah said to Gideon, Still the people are many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for thee there, and it shall be, that of whom I shall say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I shall say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 And he brought down the people to the water; and Jehovah said to Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down on his knees to drink. vv.4-5 God made a difference between the men that bowed to drink and the men that lapped. Those that lapped the water were focused on their duties, putting self-comfort and refreshment as a secondary object. Those that got down on their knees made self-comfort the object, and were distracted from their duties. Gideon was to set aside those who didn’t have a single eye for work of a soldier.
6 And the number of them that lapped, with their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men; and all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. 7 And Jehovah said to Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and give Midian into thy hand; and let all the people go every man to his place. 8 And they took the victuals of the people in their hand, and their trumpets; and all the men of Israel he sent away, every man to his tent, but retained the three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
Gideon Overhears the Dream of the Barley Cake (7:9-15)
9 And it came to pass in that night, that Jehovah said to him, Arise, go down to the camp; for I have given it into thy hand. 10 And if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the camp; 11 and thou shalt hear what they say; and afterwards shall thy hand be strengthened, and thou shalt go down unto the camp. And he went down with Phurah his servant to the outside of the armed men that were in the camp. 12 And Midian and Amalek and all the children of the east lay along in the valley as locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand upon the sea-shore for multitude. 13 And Gideon came, and behold, a man was telling a dream to his fellow; and he said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and lo, a cake of barley-bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it; and the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, the man of Israel: God hath given into his hand Midian and all the host. 15 And it came to pass when Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, that he worshipped. And he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, Arise; for Jehovah hath given into your hand the camp of Midian.
The Surprise and Victory Over Midian (7:16-25)
16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, and empty pitchers, and torches within the pitchers. 17 And he said to them, Look on me, and do likewise; behold, when I come to the extremity of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. 18 And when I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, ye also shall blow the trumpets around the whole camp, and shall say, For Jehovah and for Gideon! 19 And Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came to the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch; and they blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers that were in their hands. 20 And the three companies blew the trumpets, and broke in pieces the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hand, and the trumpets in their right hand for blowing, and cried, The sword of Jehovah and of Gideon! 21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried out, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and Jehovah set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout the camp. And the host fled to Beth-shittah towards Zererah, to the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath. 23 And the men of Israel were called together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian. 24 And Gideon sent messengers throughout mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah, and the Jordan. And all the men of Ephraim were called together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah, and the Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb; and they pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.