Judges 6-8
(Gideon's Bible Story)
March 14th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Israel was reduced to utter poverty by Midian, and so the Israelites cried out to the LORD.

- Judges 6:6 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

Chapters 6-8 tell the story of the judge named Gideon. The text of his story is longer than all but one of the other judges in this book - Samson. Gideon was hard at work on his farm when an angel of the LORD called him to lead the Israelites in battle to defeat the Midianites. The LORD had allowed the Midianites to oppress the Israelites for the previous seven years because they had not followed him. Every year, the Midianites moved into the fertile land with their men and camels in order to set up camp and raid and plunder. As a result, the Israelites had been had been forced to live in the mountains and caves for safety. This is the reason that the angel found Gideon while he was threshing his grain in the small confines of a winepress.

Gideon had some initial doubts, but God was patient in helping him to overcome those doubts, as described in chapter 6. He then organized a force of men to expel the Midianites. God told Gideon to reduce the size of his army, and eventually winnowed it down from 30,000 to 300. The purpose of this down-sizing was so to demonstrate to the people that the upcoming victory was God’s work, not the work of man. Gideon secured the victory over the Midianites by following God’s command, with or without help from other people.

Gideon’s first big mistake after the victory was to create an ephod made from captured gold – it was well intentioned as a way to honor the LORD, but the people later used it as an idol for worship. His other mistake was taking several wives and a concubine. The concubine bore him a son named Abimelek, who later stirred up dissension that led to a great tragedy, as we shall see in the next day’s reading.

Reflection and Application

Gideon resembles many of our modern leaders. He was strong during a crisis, but had moments of vulnerability and doubt. Then, after achieving victory, he had an inflated ego, lost his bearings, and failed to provide a moral foundation for his family and the next generation. Nevertheless, many of us could relate to Gideon's initial doubts, which he politely raised to the angel of the LORD:

    “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the LORD has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

    - Judges 6:13 (NIV)

How many times in recent days or months have we expressed a similar frustration? Where were all of his wonders when people have died in natural disasters? Where is his strong arm when people in many nations are being oppressed and murdered by evil misguided fanatics? The angel of the LORD never directly answered Gideon's question, and we are also left to ponder many of our own. But the angel did say that the time had come for Gideon to be the deliverer:

    “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

    The LORD answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

    - Judges 6:14-16 (NIV)

Many of us can also relate to Gideon’s response in these verses. Sometimes we are asked to do something by another person, or by God, and we feel inadequate, unprepared, nervous, and doubtful. But if the command comes from God, we can trust that he will be with us, just as he promised to be with Gideon. We hear this same promise from Jesus in the last verse of the Gospel of Matthew:

    Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

    And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

    And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

    - Mathew 28:16-20 (KJV)

Some of you might be wondering the following: What is the connection with the story of Gideon and the Gideon’s Bibles that we find in hotel rooms and hear about in song lyrics? These Bibles are placed in hotels by the Gideon's International, a group dedicated to personal witnessing and the distribution of the word in hotels, prisons, schools, and other places. The organization was created in 1899 by two travelling businessmen, John H. Nicholson and Samuel E. Hill, who were inspired by the story of Gideon. The actions of these two men have resulted in the placement of over 1.6 billion Bibles in hotels and other places around the world (1).

If you are reading this blog in a hotel room, there is a good chance that one of these Bibles can be found in a night stand next to your bed. If you are not in hotel, I recommend you look in the drawer the next time you check in, and stop for a moment give thanks to God for the comfort that has been provided to travelers by these Bibles for over 100 years.

If you haven't found one of those Bibles then maybe you have heard a story or song about the Gideon's Bible. Perhaps you recall one written by Sir Paul McCartney (18 June 1942-Current) and performed by the Beatles:

    Now Rocky Raccoon fell back in his room
    Only to find Gideon's Bible
    Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
    To help with good Rocky’s revival

    - Excerpt from “Rocky Raccoon” by Paul McCartney (2)

How many copies of Gideon's Bible do you think McCartney has come across in his world travels? What was the type of revival that he referred to in the last verse? Did it refer to recovery from the wound inflicted by his rival? Or did it refer to a spiritual recovery and the recognition that there are more important things in life than his ex-girlfriend, whom everyone knew as Nancy? If yes, then that meaning would explain the joyous refrain that follows this last verse and concludes the song. Or was this just a silly song with a random reference to Gideon and no spiritual undertones?

For further reflection on the Rocky Raccoon song click on the YouTube object below:

"Rocky Raccoon," cover performed by Jack Johnson

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. When was the last time you were in a hotel room?
    2. What are the doubts that you have about God and his mission for you?
    3. What can you do today to be an effective witness regarding God’s word?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we acknowledge that what is impossible for humans is possible for you. We thank you for standing in for us and ask your help to overcome our doubts and be an effective witness for you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People who travel frequently for their jobs


    (1) You can read more about the Gideon’s at The Gideons International Website
    (2) You can find the song, “Rocky Raccoon,” on side two of the Beatles “White Album”

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Judges 9-10 (Abimelek’s Revolution)

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