Calling them to arms, Gideon sent messengers throughout Manasseh, as well as Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali, so that they came up to meet him.
Gideon's first task demanded moral rather than physical courage. It was restricted in its sphere. It witnessed to the principle that sin must be removed ere national or individual calamities can be permanently cured, or God's help vouchsafed. The stage now clears for the larger life and wider influence.
I. THE ENEMY PRESENTS HIMSELF IN SUDDEN, OVERWHELMING FORCE. A remarkable juncture. Esdraelon, the battle-field of Canaan. Here thrones and kingdoms had been lost and won. To the heart of flesh it would have been the death-knell of hope. There was no proportion between the extent of his possible preparation and the magnitude of the crisis. Many would have advised a policy of temporizing inaction. To the sent of God the circumstances pointed all the other way. Elijah at Horeb. Paul at Athens. The Son of man longing for his "hour." Are you in a minority; the only Christian in your office; with everything to discourage and tempt you? "Let not your heart be troubled." Outward difficulties are balanced and overpowered by spiritual reinforcements. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him."
II. GIDEON'S SUMMONS TO ARMS MEETS WITH UNEXPECTED SUCCESS. "He blew a trumpet," i.e. he used the means. But probably he did not expect anything like the result. He was touching chords that vibrated in unforeseen directions. He didn't know the moral power he had acquired by his first work. We never can gauge the extent of our moral influence. Jerubbaal is the magnet. Strong in God, in himself, at home, throughout the nation. We are all guilty herein; we think God's people fewer and worse than they are. How much one steadfast, heroic soul can effect; how many others he can fire with enthusiasm and endue with courage by his example and actions!
III. SUDDEN SUCCESS OCCASIONS HUMILITY AND DOUBT. Clearly this man is not as others. He becomes strong against odds and vast oppositions, weak and hesitating when all goes well. Adversity and difficulty are plainer in their problems to the spiritual man than prosperity. But perhaps it was the quality of his soldiery he mistrusted. They did not seem of the right stuff for a duel a outrance. Perhaps the very suddenness of his power terrified him.
IV. HE SEEKS FOR WISDOM AND CONFIRMATION OF THE HEAVENLY GRACE.
1. Probably the very scene of his first vision - Association helps an imaginative, spirit. Spiritual associations are mightiest.
2. He proposes a sign that shall reveal his duty. Under ordinary circumstances this is dangerous and misleading. But the whole background of Gideon's career is miraculous, and he had a warrant to expect miracles. We have a complete revelation and a Divine example. The dew abundant in Canaan; the wetting of the fleece a rustic idea. The doubt is then suggested, What if all this be natural? Therefore -
3. The proof is reversed. As in experimental science the test of variations is employed, so here in spiritual divination. God accommodates himself to our weakness that he may vanquish it. Henceforth the path is clear and his mind is made up. Have we done all that conscience and revelation have made plain and obligatory? Have we gone to the Divine footstool for the wisdom and strength we required? - M.
He blew a trumpet, and Abi-ezer was gathered after him.
And what did he do? He seized a trumpet and blew a blast so loud that it startled the slumbering echoes of the hills, and stirred to the lowest depths the latent patriotism of the inhabitants of Abi-ezer. The martial notes of that shrill clarion as they pierced their ears operated like a charm on their minds, suffering as they were under the intolerable burden of suspense, not knowing how soon the enemy might be upon them, and might find them unprepared. Now their hearts beat strong with a new hope. Behold how suddenly and effectually the popular mind may undergo a thorough revolution! Where now were all their prejudices and fury and spite against Gideon? Before the startling peals of that trumpet blast they had vanished like a dream. Striking illustration of the expulsive power of a new affection or emotion of the mind! Yet a more striking illustration still of the truth to which we have already referred, namely, that God can make the very enemies of a godly man to be at peace with him, and even only too glad to come under his wing. See how they crowd around the man whom but yesterday they would have torn to pieces in expiation of his offence. Behold how readily they obey his summons, and how confidingly they look to him as the hero of the hour! So sure is real worth to rise to a premium in general esteem, when circumstances occur which call for more than ordinary wisdom, integrity, decision, fortitude, and nerve in the conduct of affairs. At such a time those who have contrived to suit themselves to the popular fancy during a season of ease and luxury are sure to be cast off, and men of sterner mould, men of high moral principle and integrity, men whose hearts are animated by the spirit of a hero, how ungainly soever the exterior beneath which they beat — men such as Havelock and Lawrence — are as sure to be in great demand, neglected though till then they may have been, and perhaps sneered at and despised by inferior souls. And in how many cases in the history of nations have such men as these — the Ezras, the Nehemiahs, the Jeroboams, the Gideons of our race — proved the right men in the right place, when elevated by a discerning country to that rank and authority and influence for which they were fitted above all others in virtue of their sterling worth. This is a lesson of too great importance to be lightly urged. How strikingly does the experience of Gideon, at this stage of his story, prove that no man who is conscious of being endowed with superior natural talents in combination with high moral principle should allow himself to be discouraged even though for a season he may fail to be duly appreciated by his fellow-men. Let him "bide his time." Even in the piping times of peace, when there are no symptoms of coming convulsion, it is deemed the part of prudence to keep our arsenals well stored with the munitions of war, and standing army is maintained in continual readiness for whatever may occur. For who can tell how soon or how suddenly wild war's deadly blast may be blown, and its blood-hounds be let loose. And so it ought ever to be with body, soul, and spirit — the whole man. Reason, religion, experience, and common-sense, all combine to indicate that it is at once the duty and the interest of every one (leaving the future in the hands of God) to go straight forward in the improvement of all his talents and opportunities, and in the pursuit and practice of what is right, heedless of what men may say or do, satisfied that in due time God will secure for him the very place which it is fittest and best that he should occupy, in spite of all the opposition of earth or hell.
What a strange, unwonted appearance must the market-place of Ophrah have presented at this juncture. The inhabitants had found something else to occupy them now than the martyrdom of Gideon. Rather than have injured a hair of his head, there was not one perhaps who would not have "plucked out his eyes, and given them unto him," had the sacrifice been demanded, such and so general was the enthusiasm for him which now prevailed. As for ordinary business, it was in a great measure suspended, the grand business now in hand being to prepare for war. The sounds with which the ear must have been most familiar at that time were the ring of the anvil, the hiss of the grindstone, the shrill notes of the bugle and the clash of arms. And ever as a new arrival from distant parts took place, and ever as the colours of the different tribes that had received a summons were recognised, how would the air be rent with joyful acclamations. Here might be seen a band of stalwart shepherds and woodcutters from Lebanon, there a crew of sailors from the coasts of Asher. Yonder, streaming over the hills, eager to join their brethren, are a long line of fishermen from Zebulon and Naphtali, who have left their nets and boats on the shores of the sea of Galilee, accompanied by many of their own tribes of various grades and of various professions. All seem to be animated by one spirit — a spirit of patriotism, a desire to rid their beloved country at once and for ever of that hateful yoke under which for seven long years they had groaned, and thus to be restored once more to their ancestral liberties and rights.
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
TopicsArms, Asher, Calling, Follow, Gathered, Joined, Manasseh, Manas'seh, Meet, Messengers, Naphtali, Naph'tali, Throughout, Zebulun, Zeb'ulun
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 6:35
'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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