Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule you over us, both you, and your son, and your son's son also…
The whole situation naturally described. In the flush of victory the impulse is to honour Gideon, and secure a permanent connection with the glory of his name by establishing a hereditary monarchy in his family. This honour he refuses. We have here -
I. GENEROUS BUT MISTAKEN GRATITUDE. It was a natural impulse in the soldiers. But their mistake was twofold -
(1) in exalting man instead of God, and
(2) in seeking to put an end to the theocracy.
The natural mind acts always thus, in the face of the plainest signs of Divine intervention and authority; building itself out from the Unseen by human authorities and institutions. The chain of connection with God is weakened by lengthening it. The plainest commands of God are disobeyed in mistaken self-interest. The human agent is depended upon because the perception of the Divine is weak. Exalting one of themselves was but a species of self-glorification. The motive of Gideon too is misunderstood.
II. DISINTERESTED SERVICE. The honour is refused. If prudence aided the decision, it was chiefly due to unaffected faith and reverence for Jehovah. He may have felt that his "might" and success were solely individual, and due to direct inspiration; and the incapacity and disagreements of his children may have already betrayed themselves. He thereby vindicates his own patriotism and disinterestedness. His humility and magnanimous loyalty to God as only Sovereign for Israel outshine all his exploits.
1. How hard it is for men to believe in the disinterestedness of benefactors!
2. God, who imparts might and inspiration, can also purify the heart from worldly ambitions and weaknesses.
III. DEVOUT RECOGNITION OF DIVINE AID AND AUTHORITY. The ephod is explained and described in Exodus 28. It is the priestly garment, with breastplate attached to it, worn in the sanctuary. The Urim and Thummim were also used in connection with it for oracular consultation. It meant, therefore, a tabernacle and its service wherever it was placed.
1. So far as this was to the honour of God and commemoration of his mercy, it was a pious act.
2. By using the spoils of the people for its construction, a national sacrifice was effected.
3. But by placing it in Ophrah he encouraged schism, gave his own family undue importance, and tempted his countrymen to superstitious practices. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.