The righteous indignation of faith
Nevertheless, they did not
all unite with Gideon in pursuit of the Midianites. But,
for the moment, Gideon despises the cowardice which
disowns him through a remaining fear of the oppressor's
power. On his return he chastises, in the righteous
indignation of faith, those who at such a moment had
shewn themselves favourable to the enemy, when the
servants of God were "faint yet pursuing" (chap.
While the work was yet to
do, they were taken up with the work and passed on: there
is time enough for vengeance when the work is done.
Gideon has also the prudence to set himself aside, in
order to allay the jealousy of those who felt their pride
wounded, because Gideon had had more faith than
themselves. They did not boast of their own importance,
or request to be called, when Midian had power over the
land of Israel. It would be wrong to contend with such
persons. If you are satisfied with having done the work
of God, they will be satisfied with the spoil they find
in pursuing the enemy; they will make a victory of it to
themselves. It must be allowed them; for in fact they
have done something for the cause of God, although tardy
in espousing it. They came when they were called, and
willingly, as it appears; they followed Gideon's
directions, and brought him back the heads of the princes.
The secret of faith and of Jehovah was with Gideon. It
was useless to speak of it to them. The people did not
know their own weakness. Gideon must be strong on Jehovah's
side for Israel, since Israel could not be so with him.
But for that very reason they could not understand why
they were not called before. It had to be left
unexplained; a proof of the sad state of Israel. But the
danger was removed, and the difficulty set aside, in that
Gideon wisely contented himself with calming their minds,
by not insisting upon his own importance, which arose
from a faith of which they did not feel themselves
incapable, and the difficulties of which they could not
appreciate, since they possessed it not. We must be near
God in order to feel what is wanting in His people's
condition as to Him: for it is in Him we find that which
enables us to understand both His strength, and the
exigencies of our relationship with Him.
During the lifetime of
Gideon, Israel dwelt in peace.
accomplishes the deliverance
Although the details of
this deliverance have an especial interest, it appears to
me to mark a lower condition of the people than at the
period of the preceding ones. It then seemed quite a
natural thing that some servant of Jehovah, trusting to
His arm, should deliver the people from the yoke that
oppressed them. Or else the peopleawakened by the
words of a prophetessreleased themselves, and, by
the help of God, obtained the victory over their enemies.
But in this case even the sense of Jehovah's relationship
to His people had to be restored. That is what God does
with Gideon, as we have seen, and that with touching
condescension and tenderness. But it was requisite to do
it. Therefore God alone accomplished the deliverance of
His people. The people must not be employed in it, lest
they should attribute it to themselves; for the farther
off we are from God, the more ready we are to ascribe to
ourselves that which is due only to Him.