Judges 8:34

As we pass through the historical records of the Bible we must often be struck with the stern faithfulness with which Jewish chroniclers describe the wicked and shameful deeds of their own nation. This fact is not only valuable as a proof of the unvarnished truthfulness of the narratives; it gives to the history of the Bible a universal character by making it a mirror of human nature. Thus the forgetfulness and ingratitude here recorded are unhappily typical of the too common conduct of mankind generally.

I. THE PREVALENCE OF THIS CONDUCT. Unnatural and monstrous as it appears in the narrative, it is so common in experience as to be scarcely noticed. It was constantly repeated in the history of Israel (Psalm 78:11, 42). It is prevalent in Christian communities.

1. It is not limited to atheism. The atheist denies the existence of God. The godless man believes that God exists, yet ignores his existence. The atheist is rare. But is there not something pharisaical and hypocritical in the horror with which he is regarded, as though the great multitude of men were far better than he, though so many of them forget the God of whose existence they are champions, and never render him worship or obedience.

2. It is not limited to open irreligion. We must not suppose that all people who do not go to church are utterly godless; but neither can we believe that all who do engage in public acts of worship really acknowledge God in their hearts. It is possible to forget God in the house of God, and to be guilty of base ingratitude while singing his praises.

3. It is not limited to total godlessness. There are those who, like the Jews, have known God, but have since forgotten and neglected him, and those who live nearer to him for a season, but are tempted at times to forsake him.


1. Sin. The people of Israel went after Baalim, and the result was that they forgat the Lord. We cannot have two supreme gods. Immorality is fatal to religion.

2. Worldly distraction. When no special fall into great sin has been experienced the mind may be drawn aside from Divine things, and so engrossed in business, politics, or the cares and pleasures of life, that no time or energy is left for spiritual thoughts (Matthew 13:22).

3. Unspirituality. Even when there is no great worldly distraction we may sink into a low, unspiritual habit of life, in which the thought of God becomes faint and feeble. It does require some spiritual effort to preserve the memory of God fresh and bright, because

(1) he is invisible, and can only be apprehended in the inner life, and

(2) his action is gentle, and does not rouse our attention by sensational methods (Habakkuk 3:4).

4. Loss of love to God. We remember what we love. Indifference of heart creates negligence of thought.

5. Selfishness. Israel remembered God in the time of need and forgot him in the season of prosperity. Selfishness inclines us to remember God only when we want his aid.


1. It implies disloyalty to the rightful authority of God. If we forget God we forget his will and neglect his service. We are not free to do this, for we are naturally subjects of his supreme sovereignty.

2. It implies indifference to his Fatherly nature. He is our Father, and we are bound to him by ties of nature (Deuteronomy 32:18).

3. It implies an unworthy return for his goodness. Thankfulness is closely associated with thoughtfulness. The unthankful forget; those who do not take the trouble to think fall into gross ingratitude. Ingratitude to God is joined to ingratitude to his servants. The same spirit is seen in both sins. We are not likely to be true to man until we are first true to God. - A.

And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.
Man is a strange mixture of greatness and of littleness, of goodness, and of badness. The one lies very close to the other.

I. Gideon at his worst MORALLY. Biblical saints are not made more than human. Their virtues are described that we may imitate them, their vices depicted that we may avoid them. Gideon not without his failings: many wives, and even concubines. Remember the degenerate times in which he lived. No man altogether superior to the influences of his age; Gideon not. His guilt not so great as if he had lived in our days. Polygamy now almost an impossible crime. Be thankful for what the gospel has done for modern society. In those days, too, a man became a ruler, and was permitted to do things not allowed to the private individual. Great positions have always great moral dangers. In lonely walks of life there is favourable opportunity for the growth of the white flower of a blameless character. Zeal for the Lord of hosts may go along with imperfection. Zeal will not condone for the imperfection.

II. Gideon at his worst PHYSICALLY. Gideon lived to a good old age; still he died, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash. He who overcame vast multitudes is now overcome of death. Mighty Gideon lies powerless in the sepulchre of Joash. Thousands passing away daily, and yet the living regard not the common fate. Oh, that men would consider their latter end! To live in view of death is not to die the sooner, is not to live less nobly or usefully.

III. Gideon at his worst INFLUENTIALLY. Not always true that the good which a man does is buried along with his bones. A good man's influence must abide more or less. A man's greatness shows that he can project an influence that shall outlast his earthly life. Yet how often we appear to see the efforts made by a good man in life blighted at his death. As soon as Gideon was dead, the children of Israel turned again, and went a-whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god. Pathetic the statement, short-lived Gideon's influence. The people restrained by Gideon's presence, but not converted by his example. Superficial changes not lasting. Rulers may do much, but the gospel only can work a permanent reformation.

(Wm. Burrows, B. A.)

The children of Israel remembered not

1. A particular observation, or taking notice of a kindness received, and consequently of the goodwill and affection of the person who did that kindness. For still, in this case, the mind of the giver is more to be attended to than the matter of the gift; it being this that stamps it properly a favour and gives it the noble and endearing denomination of a kindness.

2. That which brings it from the heart into the mouth, and makes a man express the sense he has of the benefit done him by thanks, acknowledgments, and gratulations; and where the heart is full of the one, it will certainly overflow and run over in the other.

3. An endeavour to recompense our benefactor, and to do something that may redound to his advantage, in consideration of what he has done towards ours.

II. THE NATURE AND BASENESS OF INGRATITUDE. There is not any one vice or ill quality incident to the mind of man, against which the world has raised such a loud and universal outcry, as against ingratitude. It is properly an insensibility of kindnesses received, without any endeavour either to acknowledge or repay them. To repay them, indeed, by a return equivalent, is not in every one's power, and consequently cannot be his duty; but thanks are a tribute payable by the poorest. For surely nature gives no man a mouth to be always eating, and never saying grace; nor a hand only to grasp and to receive: but as it is furnished with teeth for the one, so it should have a tongue also for the other: and the hands that are so often reached out to take and to accept, should be sometimes lifted up also to bless. The world is maintained by intercourse; and the whole course of nature is a great exchange, in which one good turn is and ought to be the stated price of another.

III. THE PRINCIPLE FROM WHICH IT PROCEEDS. In one word, it proceeds from that which we call ill-nature.

1. A proneness to do ill turns, attended with a complacency, or secret joy of mind, upon the sight of any mischief that befalls another.

2. An utter insensibility of any good or kindness done him by others.


1. Pride. The original ground of our obligation to gratitude is that each man has but a limited right to the good things of the world, and that the natural and allowed way by which one is to obtain possession of these things is by his own industrious acquisition of them. Consequently, when any good is dealt to him any other way than by his own labour, he is accountable to the person who dealt it to him, as for a thing to which he had no right or claim by any action of his own. But pride shuts a man's eyes against all this, and so fills him with an opinion of his own transcendent worth, that he imagines himself to have a right to all things, as well those that are the effects and fruits of other men's labours as of his own. So that if any advantage accrues to him by the liberality of his neighbour, he does not look upon it as a free and undeserved gift, but rather as a just homage to that worth and merit which he conceives to be in himself, and to which all the world ought to become tributary.

2. Hard-heartedness, or want of compassion. It was ingratitude that put the poniard into the hand of Brutus, but it was want of compassion which thrust it into Caesar's heart.


1. Never enter into a league of friendship with an ungrateful person: that is, plant not thy friendship upon a dunghill; it is too noble a plant for so base a soil.

2. As a man tolerably discreet ought by no means to attempt the making of such an one his friend, so neither is he, in the next place, to presume to think that he shall be able so much as to alter or ameliorate the humour of an ungrateful person by any acts of kindness, though never so frequent, never so obliging. Flints may be melted, but an ungrateful heart cannot; no, not by the strongest and the noblest flame. I limit not the operation of God's grace; but, humanly speaking, it seldom fails but that an ill principle has its course, and nature makes good its blow.

3. Wheresoever you see a man notoriously ungrateful, you may rest assured that there is in him no true sense of religion.

(R. South, D.D.).

Abiezer, Abiezrites, Abimelech, Gideon, Ishmaelites, Israelites, Jerubbaal, Jether, Joash, Midianites, Nobah, Ophrah, Oreb, Penuel, Zalmunna, Zebah, Zeeb
0, Abiezer, Heres, Jogbehah, Jordan River, Karkor, Midian, Nobah, Ophrah, Penuel, Shechem, Succoth, Tabor
Delivered, Delivering, Didn't, Enemies, Hands, Haters, Minds, Remember, Remembered, Rescued, Round, Saviour, Sons, Thus
1. Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites
4. Succoth and Penuel refuse to deliver Gideon's army
10. Zebah and Zalmunna are taken
13. Succoth and Penuel are destroyed
17. Gideon revenges his brothers's death on Zebah and Zalmunna
22. He refuses government
24. His ephod the cause of idolatry
28. Midian subdued
29. Gideon's children, and death
33. The Israelites' idolatry and ingratitude

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Judges 8:33-34

     5960   success
     6243   adultery, spiritual
     8705   apostasy, in OT

September 21. "Faint, yet Pursuing" (Judges viii. 4).
"Faint, yet pursuing" (Judges viii. 4). It is a great thing thus to learn to depend upon God to work through our feeble resources, and yet, while so depending, to be absolutely faithful and diligent, and not allow our trust to deteriorate into supineness and indolence. We find no sloth or negligence in Gideon, or his three hundred; though they were weak and few, they were wholly true, and everything in them ready for God to use to the very last. "Faint yet pursuing" was their watchword as they followed
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Christian Faith
Scripture references: Hebrews 11; Matthew 9:29; 17:20; Mark 10:52; 11:22; Acts 2:38; 3:16; 10:43; 16:30,31; Romans 1:17; 5:1; 10:17; Galatians 2:20. FAITH AND PRACTICE Belief Controls Action.--"As the man is, so is his strength" (Judges 8:21), "For as he thinketh in his heart so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). "According to your faith be it unto you" (Matthew 9:28,29). "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). The Scriptures place stress upon the fact that
Henry T. Sell—Studies in the Life of the Christian

Subjects of Study. Home Education in Israel; Female Education. Elementary Schools, Schoolmasters, and School Arrangements.
If a faithful picture of society in ancient Greece or Rome were to be presented to view, it is not easy to believe that even they who now most oppose the Bible could wish their aims success. For this, at any rate, may be asserted, without fear of gainsaying, that no other religion than that of the Bible has proved competent to control an advanced, or even an advancing, state of civilisation. Every other bound has been successively passed and submerged by the rising tide; how deep only the student
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life

Of the Power of Making Laws. The Cruelty of the Pope and his Adherents, in this Respect, in Tyrannically Oppressing and Destroying Souls.
1. The power of the Church in enacting laws. This made a source of human traditions. Impiety of these traditions. 2. Many of the Papistical traditions not only difficult, but impossible to be observed. 3. That the question may be more conveniently explained, nature of conscience must be defined. 4. Definition of conscience explained. Examples in illustration of the definition. 5. Paul's doctrine of submission to magistrates for conscience sake, gives no countenance to the Popish doctrine of the obligation
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion

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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