And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
The faintness, of Gideon's troops may illustrate the spiritual faintness of Christians, and the influence of this on their conduct in life.
I. FAINTNESS MAY OVERTAKE US WHILE PURSUING THE CHRISTIAN COURSE.
1. Note the characteristics of this faintness. It is
(1) loss of strength, so that we are not able to attain so much nor to progress so fast as we should otherwise do;
(2) a sense of distress, making every movement a pain, and robbing the Christian life of its bright hopefulness and cheerful enthusiasm.
2. Note the existence of this faintness in the pursuit of the Christian course. Though still pursuing the right way, we may experience faintness. It is not the deviation to bye-path meadow alone which brings distress. We may grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9). Therefore
(1) let us not be over confident because we are in the right, and
(2) let us not be dismayed at the experience of faintness, as though this were a sign of spiritual defection.
3. Note the causes of this faintness.
(1) These may be observed in the circumstances of life: - in the length of the course; the great difficulty being not to nerve ourselves for a few heroic actions, but to continue pressing on through the long hot day, through the long weary night: - in the speed of the pursuit; life is a race swift and stern, and the difficulty often is to overtake the duties which accumulate so fast that those who, so to say, "take things easily" must always find themselves behindhand:-in the impediments of the way, leading through tangled thickets of prejudice and rotor, and up craggy heights of noble attainments.
(2) The causes of faintness may also be traced to our own habit and condition: such as want of nourishment - the soul which is always working, and does not seek renewed strength in spiritual feeding upon the bread of life, in prayer, in the reading of Scripture, in meditation, in communion with Christ, will surely grow faint; want of rest - there is a spiritual insomnia, a habit of restless activity, which invariably results in faintness. Christ required rest, and called his disciples apart to rest (Mark 6:31).
II. FAINTNESS NEED NOT STAY US IN THE PURSUIT OF THE CHRISTIAN COURSE. Though the troops of Gideon were faint, they still pursued.
1. Faintness is not death. If our strength is slight, this is a good reason for making the best use of it. If faintness reduce our talents to one, we have no excuse to bury that one.
2. God expects our attainments to be no more than proportionate to our strength. He knows our weakness (Psalm 103:14). He is no hard task-master, expecting us to make bricks without straw; so we need not despair of pleasing God because our faintness permits of but slight service.
3. The real source of victory is not our strength, but God's might. When we are most faint, God's strength made perfect in our weakness may be most effective (2 Corinthians 12:9). The little one may chase a thousand, because God is with him. When we are most faint we are least self-confident, and in our humility and helplessness driven to the mighty for strength, so that our faintness may be the means of leading us to the real strength which alone can accomplish great things.
4. Faintness can be overcome. Faintness is not necessarily the precursor of death. It may be but temporary. We may find in God a sure remedy for spiritual faintness, because "they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).
5. If we are faithfully pressing on in spite of present faintness, we shall be rewarded with future rest and triumph. Gideon's troops were well recompensed for their brave pursuit. The short race of life will end in a haven of rest, in a home of honour. Let us then be brave and true, remembering that in proportion to the weariness of present toil will be the sweetness of future rest (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.