And I said to you: 'I am the LORD your God. You must not fear the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.' But you did not obey Me."
The narrative of the sacred historian, though brief, gives a vivid picture of the ravages of the Midianites, and of the pitiable distress to which Israel was reduced. They chose the spring when the seed had been sown, and came up with all the accompaniments of Bedouin life, "with their cattle, their tents, and their camels." They ranged over the entire plain, beginning at the bank of the Jordan, and proceeding farther and farther westward "until thou come to Gaza," on the low-lying sandy shore of the Mediterranean. They carried their plundering incursions far up into the hills of Manasseh, of Zebulun, and of Naphtali. They arranged no regular campaign, but pitched their tents wherever they pleased; roaming in armed parties over the whole country, and spreading terror in every direction. The farmers, instead of combining in self-defence, fled to the hills or sheltered themselves in caves; leaving their produce to the robbers, who "destroyed the increase of the earth," carried off the cattle, and "left neither sheep, nor ex, nor ass," nor any kind of sustenance for Israel. After they had plundered all, they withdrew till the following season, when they again came up from the desert, after the seed had been sown, to renew their depredations. For seven successive years were these ravages committed — ravages more terrible than those of war — until the Israelitish people had become not only "greatly impoverished," but utterly disheartened.
The cry of distress is heard instantly by Jehovah, and the answer begins to come at once. But only as is best for the sinning nation. As there was discipline-in the misery to which Israel was reduced, so there is still discipline in the succession and several instalments of the mercy of God. The aim is not merely nor so much to deliver from the material evil to which they were subject, but to root out the unbelief and develop the spiritual life and moral heroism of the people.
I. THE IMMEDIACY OF GOD'S MERCY. "It came to pass, when the children of Israel cried .... that the Lord sent a prophet. There appears to be no interval. God begins to readjust his relations with Israel at once. But the material boon is not granted then. The sting must rankle until true repentance is forthcoming. Deliverance would have been a very questionable blessing under the circumstances. Freedom and independence are responsibilities as well as birthrights. So God hears the cry of the sinner always. Not what we wish, but what we want," that in the end what we wish may be rendered spiritually advisable and blessed. The measure of comfort here was that God was not silent, prayer was not unavailing. There is hope in the opening of mercy's door, even though it be in reproof.
II. THE SUCCESSIONS OF GOD'S MERCY. First the cry of desperation and repentance, then the outward reproof, then the direction, encouragement, and training of a deliverer, then the recovery of national freedom, prosperity, and prestige. Flowerlike. So God adapts his blessings to the moral and spiritual capacity of his people. The Divine view of our misery and its requirements is the reverse of the human; we think of the material suffering, God of the moral defect and sin. These mercies as they come in train are manifestly education, that the work of grace may be effectual. "Grace for grace" is a law of his kingdom. And the dignity of God is never lost.
III. MERCY IN ITS CULMINATION. God did not stop short of ultimate deliverance, although it was not achieved at once. So "he crowneth us with his loving-kindness and tender mercy." It is no mere secular and vulgar deliverance. It is national re-creation. The chivalry of Israel is called forth. It is even more a religious than a military triumph. So the salvation of the soul has its splendours and glories. It is absolute, complete, and magnificent, crowning the life of the faithful. "An abundant entrance will be ministered" into the kingdom of his Son. "We are more than conquerors" through him. - M.
Because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens... and caves and strongholds.
Thus God gets at men through various means. The Midianites came out and spoiled the fields of the Israelites. The camels of the Midianites were without number; they entered the land to destroy it. Wheresoever they laid their hand they crushed the hope of Israel. Has God a way into our life, then, through corn and grass? Has He a way to chastise us through the medium of our business? Can He turn a client away and send a customer in another direction, and blind a man whilst he is counting his money? and can He so arrange things that prosperity shall crumble into adversity and a dense darkness shall settle upon the brightness of prosperity? This is God's way of doing. He gets at men through their skin; He smites them with leprosy that they may learn to pray; He curses their bread that they may cry out about the better life; He drops poison into their water that they may learn that they have committed two evils — they have forsaken Him, the fountain of living water, and have hewn out unto themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. These things should bring us to study, to reflection, to inquiry. "Why has this adversity come upon me? why do men actually pine and die? Is there not a cause?"
The famished, terror-stricken fugitives, are they indeed the sons of the men of old before whom the elders of Moab and of Midian trembled, and against whom the prince of sorcerers confessed that no enchantments could prevail? These crouching slaves that timidly peep from behind projecting rocks, or shiver in the damp darkness of caverns, are they indeed the sons of the men who vanquished Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan? Where are the old traditions of victory? Where is the national character — the energy of the race? National character, ancestral traditions, energy of race! Yes; such things exist; they have potency and value. But there is one law higher, wider, deeper than all these, and which modifies and controls them all. It is the everlasting law of right and wrong; the law of conscience; the law of retribution. Israel had forsaken Jehovah and had fallen into the licentious practices of the heathen, therefore they became an easy prey to the spoiler, whose audacity increased, while Israel's strength diminished year by year of that calamitous seven. The same laws are still in force, for the whole world is a theocracy. If we act as the Israelites acted, we shall suffer as they suffered. Spoilers will come upon us — spoilers in the form of tumultuous passions; spoilers in the form of mighty lusts; spoilers in the form of wretched, remorseful thoughts, which will devour our happiness, and make us ready to skulk away into the farthest corner of the darkest cave, to avoid the light of the sun. This irruption of the Midianites into the fruitful vales of Palestine was no accident. The world is not governed by chance. Israel had bowed to the gods of the heathen, therefore they must bow to the tyranny of the heathen.
The Lord sent a prophet"Thus saith the Lord... ye have not obeyed My voice." Awful words, but not unmixed with mercy. If the wounds of a friend are faithful — if it be a kindness when the righteous smite us — how much more when our heavenly Father is pleased to reprove! Severe and unsympathising as the utterances of this prophet might sound in the ears of a crushed and dejected people, they were necessary preparation for the coming deliverance. Before the Lord sent them a deliverer, He sent to them a prophet to preach repentance; to remind them that their own disobedience had been the real cause of all their miseries; to prepare them for salvation by piercing them with a sense of sin. It is a mercy if the silence of the skies is broken, even though it be by the voice of correction. If that word which is like a two-edged sword be humbly and dutifully received, the word which heals and restores will presently follow. Thus it was in Gideon's time; a messenger of reproof prepared the way for a messenger of victory.
()God reads the book of history, and says, "See what I did for you, where I found you, how I delivered you, how I interposed for you in the hour of extremity; see how, by a mighty hand and outstretched arm, I wrought out this whole salvation for you, and no sooner did I recover you to life and to hope, than you turned your backs upon Me and stopped your ears with your fingers, and your hearts went astray from My throne." There is, then, a moral explanation of this whole thing that we call difficulty, or pain, or discipline, disappointment, sorrow, and death: "Ye obeyed not My voice." That is the explanation of it all. The explanation of death, pain, poverty, homelessness, friendlessness, sorrow of every degree, is to be found in the fact "that we have disobeyed the voice of God." There has been the moral lapse, the great spiritual slip, the heart has not retained its integrity, and we have got wrong at the centre, and having become disorganised there, all the outwardness of life has gone off into confusion and riot and darkness, and God has justly vindicated Himself by a multitude of pains and penalties, keen distresses and intolerable agonies, all of which are the servants of His righteous and gracious will. How long can God set Himself against the cries of the heart of His people? Not long. Israel cried unto the Lord! Did the Lord remove Himself ten thousand miles further into the depth of the great solitude that is above? No. He is full of compassion, He is tender in mercy, He is gentle in spirit. When Israel cried, God came. Though He might have said, "No," yet He came — for God is love. "He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust."
PeopleAbiezer, Abiezrites, Amalek, Amalekites, Amorites, Asher, Egyptians, Ephah, Gideon, Israelites, Jerubbaal, Jezreel, Joash, Manasseh, Midianites, Naphtali, Ophrah, Zebulun
PlacesEgypt, Gaza, Jezreel Valley, Jordan River, Midian, Ophrah
TopicsAmorite, Amorites, Dwell, Dwelling, Ear, Fear, Gods, Hearkened, Heed, Listened, Obeyed, Pay, Reverence, Voice, Worship
Outline1. The Israelites for their sin are oppressed by Midian
8. A prophet rebukes them
11. An angel sends Gideon for their deliverance
17. Gideon's present is consumed with fire
24. Gideon destroys Baal's altar; offers a sacrifice upon the altar Jehovah-shalom
28. Joash defends his son, and calls him Jerubbaal
33. Gideon's army
36. Gideon's signs
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJudges 6:10
8208 commitment, to God
'Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah- shalom [God is peace].'--JUDGES vi. 24. I need not tell over again, less vividly, the picturesque story in this chapter, of the simple husbandman up in the hills, engaged furtively in threshing out a little wheat in some hollow in the rock where he might hide it from the keen eyes of the oppressors; and of how the angel of the Lord, unrecognised at first, appeared to him; and gradually there dawned upon his mind the suspicion …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
'Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that Thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said.'-- JUDGES vi. 37. The decisive moment had come when Gideon, with his hastily gathered raw levies, was about to plunge down to the plain to face immensely superior forces trained to warfare. No wonder that the equally untrained leader's heart heat faster. Many a soldier, who will be steadfastly …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Jehovam-Shalem, the Lord Send Peace. Judg 6:24
John Newton—Olney Hymns
Whether it is a Sin to Tempt God?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not a sin to tempt God. For God has not commanded sin. Yet He has commanded men to try, which is the same as to tempt, Him: for it is written (Malach. 3:10): "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in My house; and try Me in this, saith the Lord, if I open not unto you the flood-gates of heaven." Therefore it seems not to be a sin to tempt God. Objection 2: Further, a man is tempted not only in order to test his knowledge and his power, …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
Man Now Deprived of Freedom of Will, and Miserably Enslaved.
1. Connection of the previous with the four following chapters. In order to lay a proper foundation for the discussion of free will, two obstacles in the way to be removed--viz. sloth and pride. The basis and sum of the whole discussion. The solid structure of this basis, and a clear demonstration of it by the argument a majori ad minus. Also from the inconveniences and absurdities arising from the obstacle of pride. 2. The second part of the chapter containing the opinions of others. 1. The opinions …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Unity of the Divine Essence in Three Persons Taught, in Scripture, from the Foundation of the World.
1. Scripture, in teaching that the essence of God is immense and spiritual, refutes not only idolaters and the foolish wisdom of the world, but also the Manichees and Anthropomorphites. These latter briefly refuted. 2. In this one essence are three persons, yet so that neither is there a triple God, nor is the simple essence of God divided. Meaning of the word Person in this discussion. Three hypostases in God, or the essence of God. 3. Objection of those who, in this discussion, reject the use of …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
Subterraneous Places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal mines, the caves, and the places of burial. This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy 8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and misery; being frequently condemned hither by …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Jesus Calls Four Fishermen to Follow Him.
(Sea of Galilee, Near Capernaum.) ^A Matt. IV. 18-22; ^B Mark I. 16-20; ^C Luke V. 1-11. ^a 18 And walking ^b 16 And passing along by the sea of Galilee [This lake is a pear-shaped body of water, about twelve and a half miles long and about seven miles across at its widest place. It is 682 feet below sea level; its waters are fresh, clear and abounding in fish, and it is surrounded by hills and mountains, which rise from 600 to 1,000 feet above it. Its greatest depth is about 165 feet], he [Jesus] …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Of the Sacraments.
1. Of the sacraments in general. A sacrament defined. 2. Meaning of the word sacrament. 3. Definition explained. Why God seals his promises to us by sacraments. 4. The word which ought to accompany the element, that the sacrament may be complete. 5. Error of those who attempt to separate the word, or promise of God, from the element. 6. Why sacraments are called Signs of the Covenant. 7. They are such signs, though the wicked should receive them, but are signs of grace only to believers. 8. Objections …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Doctrine of God
I. THE EXISTENCE OF GOD: (Vs. Atheism). 1. ASSUMED BY THE SCRIPTURES. 2. PROOFS OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. a) Universal belief in the Existence of God. b) Cosmological:--Argument from Cause. c) Teleological:--Argument from Design. d) Ontological:--Argument from Being. e) Anthropological:--Moral Argument. f) Argument from Congruity. g) Argument from Scripture. II. THE NATURE OF GOD: (Vs. Agnosticism) 1. THE SPIRITUALITY OF GOD: (Vs. Materialism). 2. THE PERSONALITY OF GOD: (Vs. Pantheism). 3. THE UNITY …
Rev. William Evans—The Great Doctrines of the Bible
And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah
"And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall come forth unto Me (one) [Pg 480] to be Ruler in Israel; and His goings forth are the times of old, the days of eternity." The close connection of this verse with what immediately precedes (Caspari is wrong in considering iv. 9-14 as an episode) is evident, not only from the [Hebrew: v] copulative, and from the analogy of the near relation of the announcement of salvation to the prophecy of disaster …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Seasonable Counsel: Or, Advice to Sufferers.
BY JOHN BUNYAN. London: Printed for Benjamin Alsop, at the Angel and Bible in the Poultry, 1684. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. THIS valuable treatise was first published in a pocket volume in 1684, and has only been reprinted in Whitfield's edition of Bunyan's works, 2 vols. folio, 1767. No man could have been better qualified to give advice to sufferers for righteousness' sake, than John Bunyan: and this work is exclusively devoted to that object. Shut up in a noisome jail, under the iron hand of …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
For the understanding of the early history and religion of Israel, the book of Judges, which covers the period from the death of Joshua to the beginning of the struggle with the Philistines, is of inestimable importance; and it is very fortunate that the elements contributed by the later editors are so easily separated from the ancient stories whose moral they seek to point. That moral is most elaborately stated in ii. 6-iii. 6, which is a sort of programme or preface to iii. 7-xvi. 31, which constitutes …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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