Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod…
As Gideon took his men to the water and tried them there, so we would bring your heart and conscience to the spiritual test which the subject may be understood to signify. Are you a self-indulgent Christian? The two terms have no connection with each other. If God discard the "fearful," will He retain the "carnal"? If He dismiss those who are so cowardly that they dare not enter upon a profession of His religion, will He bear with those who have the audacity to live in the disgrace of it? To affect to serve God one day and really to serve divers lusts and passions another; to pretend to be one of "Christ's Church militant here upon earth," and yet actually to make no resistance to the enemy; this is only showing that instead of being, as you profess, a soldier of Christ, you are in reality a servant of Mammon. Tell us not, ye that are thus carnally-minded, of any warfare that you are waging with the great adversary of souls. The fact is, that you are already taken prisoners by the enemy, you are already led captive by him at his will. But the active soldiers of Christ need refreshment, as Gideon's chosen band did; and they have it. What are the ordinances of Divine grace when blessed to the soul, but "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord"? And now God says to Gideon, "By the three hundred men that lapped will I save Israel; and let all the other people go every man to his place." We hear no complaint from Gideon. When he is commanded to send the men away, he sends them one after another by the hundred and by the thousand; not knowing when God would stay His hand or say, "It is enough." This is faith, vital and practical faith. It is exactly that faith which the Christian is required to carry into the common transactions of life, and to act upon in the occurrences of every day: "The just shall live by faith." In the evil day he is to live upon it when God takes away the desire of his eyes, or the means of his present subsistence, or the outward helps which he has been accustomed to, and on which, perhaps, he has been leaning too confidently. When these are struck from under him, then the proof of his faith is that he can "trust in the Lord, and stay himself on his God." We are apt to tremble for the cause of the gospel around us when we see many depart and walk no more with Christ. But let those who remain think of the concern which their own souls have in the matter. Have some drawn back? The Captain of salvation says, "What is that to thee? follow thou Me." Is the number of the fearful or disaffected great, and is it increasing? No matter if it be twenty-two thousand. "What is that to thee? follow thou Me." Certainly it is our duty to use all the means which God puts in our power to strengthen our missionary ranks; but, nevertheless, when He is pleased from time to time thus to draft off, if I may so speak, the great men, and the strong men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men from our missionary host, it becomes us to look on with Gideon's patient faith and meek submission; to regard the mysterious dispensation as intended to make known that "the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us." Thus every death of a missionary will have a voice in it of encouragement as well as of warning from our God; and if we listen to it with the ear of Gideon's faith, it will tell us "The people are yet too many." And our answer should be, "Be Thou exalted, Lord, in Thine own strength: so will we sing, and praise Thy power."
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
WEB: Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.