When You Have to Fight for Your life Who Do You Want on Your Side?

School Boys in the Dem. Republic of Congo (2010)
School Boys in the Dem. Republic of Congo (2010)

There are a number of lessons we can learn in the way Gideon selected men for an army to fight the people of Midian. Gideon’s first decision is to amass the largest army he can by reaching throughout all of Israel and pulling together thousands of fighters. God tells Gideon that his army is too big and he should encourage those who are fearful to return home. Twenty-two thousand men returned home with 10,000 remaining. God told Gideon that even 10,000 was too many men. Next, God gave Gideon an interesting way to choose the toughest men to fight with him. God told Gideon to watch how the men drank water. Those who knelt down on one knee and cupped their hands to drink water, God told Gideon to release them and send them home. The men who bent down without bending a knee who lapped the water like a dog were the ones Gideon was told to keep in his army. At the end of the day, Gideon ended up with only 300 men, but it was enough for him to win the war.

My guess is that the 300 were tough men. If they were tough enough to drink water like a thirsty dog, God told Gideon that these were the kind of men he needed for a vicious fight.

One of the lessons from Gideon’s choice of an army for modern people is this: the choice of people to help you for a specific task is really important. Not every person is suited for every task. This is true not just in war, but the choice to staff hires to the choice of lovers and spouses: we need to choose well. A person might be well intentioned and even on paper look like a good fit, but at the end of the day, a choice must be made and sometimes the best choices might fool you.

Jesus Christ is looking for the right fit. The Lord is looking for a few men and women, boys and girls, to tell the world of his story, to tell the world of his mercy, grace and love.   Jesus is reaching for you and me to find out who are the right people to carry the good news of his salvation. Are you ready? Are you wiling? Are you able to go the distance with the Lord?

Judges 7 Then Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and all the troops that were with him rose early and encamped beside the spring of Harod; and the camp of Midian was north of them, below the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

The Lord said to Gideon, “The troops with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand. Israel would only take the credit away from me, saying, ‘My own hand has delivered me.’ Now therefore proclaim this in the hearing of the troops, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.’ ” Thus Gideon sifted them out; twenty-two thousand returned, and ten thousand remained.

Then the Lord said to Gideon, “The troops are still too many; take them down to the water and I will sift them out for you there. When I say, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you; and when I say, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go.” So he brought the troops down to the water; and the Lord said to Gideon, “All those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, you shall put to one side; all those who kneel down to drink, putting their hands to their mouths, you shall put to the other side.” The number of those that lapped was three hundred; but all the rest of the troops knelt down to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred that lapped I will deliver you, and give the Midianites into your hand. Let all the others go to their homes.” So he took the jars of the troops from their hands, and their trumpets; and he sent all the rest of Israel back to their own tents, but retained the three hundred. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley. [1]


Questions for Reflection:

  1. If were in a conflict and you needed someone to be on your side, whom would you choose?
  2. Why do you think God told Gideon to send most of the fighting men home?



Lord, give me someone I can count on. When my back is up against the wall, give me someone who is strong, fearless and committed. Lord, grant me the wisdom to know how to choose the right person for the right task. When making my choice of whom to help me when I need help most, teach me to look beyond the external. Teach me to have the instinct to determine the heart of those around me. Remind me that strength is much more than numbers. Remind me that even a few people working together can move mountains. Lord, make me strong. Lord, make me fearless. Lord, show me whom I can depend upon. Lord, grant me your victory today. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989 (Jdg 7:1–8). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.