Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611


The Book of Judges

 The Book of Judges was taught by Dr. James Modlish


Judges 6:1-8:35

Outline and comments by Warren W. Wiersbe,
who at the time of writing, was the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church…
Covington, Kentucky



Hebrews (11:32) puts Gideon at the head of the list of judges. Though he often wavered in doubt, he was still a "man of faith" who dared to trust the Word of God. When you realize that he was a farmer, not a trained warrior, you can see how wonderful his faith was! We will trace Gideon's career in this lesson.


I. Gideon the Coward (6:1-24)

Seven years of bondage under the Midianites had brought Israel to its lowest level. Instead of "riding on the high places" (Deut. 32:13), they were hiding in the dens! Israel was not even allowed to harvest their grain, which explains why we find Gideon hiding in the winepress. God's prophet (7-10) reminded the people of their unbelief and sin; then God's Angel - Christ Himself - visited Gideon to prepare him for his victory. Remember that God has forsaken His people temporarily; He is now working through chosen men (2:18).

When the angel called Gideon "a mighty man of valour" (12), it seemed a mockery; yet Christ was only anticipating what Gideon would become by faith. It reminds us of Christ's words to Peter: "Thou art ... thou shalt be: (John 1:42). But see Gideon's unbelief, which was the cause of his cowardice: "If ... why ... where ... wherewith ... if ... shew me a sign"! this is certainly not the language of faith! Gideon confessed that God had chastened His people justly (13), but he could not understand how the Lord would use a poor farmer like himself to deliver the nation.

God met his unbelief with a series of promises: "'The Lord is with thee" (12); "thou shalt save Israel ... have not I sent thee?" (14); "surely I will be with thee" (16). Faith comes by hearing God's Word (Rom. 10:17). Gideon required a sign (1924), and God graciously granted it to him. "Jehovah-Shalom" means "The Lord is our peace." (23-24)


II. Gideon the Challenger (6:25-32)

It is one thing to meet God in the secrecy of a winepress, but quite another thing to stand up for the Lord in public. That very night God tested Gideon's dedication by asking him to tear down his father's heathen altar to Baal, and to build an altar to Jehovah. More than this, he was to sacrifice his father's special bullock (probably reserved for Baal) on the new altar! Christian testimony has to begin at home. Gideon obeyed the Lord, but he showed unbelief by doing the deed by night (27) and by asking ten other men to help him. We can imagine the furor in the neighborhood when the people discovered the deed the next morning! Did they kill Gideon? No! Rather, it made Gideon a leader, so that he was able to summon the army together to prepare to fight. God will never use a ""secret saint" to win great battles. We must come out in the open and take our stand, regardless of the cost.


III. Gideon the Conqueror (6:33-8)

A. He conquered his fears (6:33-7:14) - An army of 32,000 men rallied to his side, but he was still doubtful of victory. How gracious God is to minister to His feeble saints! Gideon "put out the fleece"' twice, and both times God answered. It is too bad when God's people trust circumstances to lead them instead of relying on God's clear Word. But Gideon was not the only one afraid; 22,000 of the 32,000 soldiers were also fearful (7:1-3, and see Deut. 20:8). However, God did not need 10,000 men; so He tested the men and sent 9,700 back home. The 300 who drank from the hand (vs. 6) would have been in better position to face and fight the enemy if surprised. On the night of the battle, God saw that there was still fear in Gideon's heart (9-14), so He graciously gave him a special sign that he would win the battle. The barley cake represented Gideon, for barley was the poorest kind of food. But God was going to use this "dirt farmer"' to win a great victory!

B. He conquered his foes (7:15-25) - Note how Gideon quotes God's promise of victory to the people (vs. 15, note vs. 9). He was relying wholly on the Word of God. This victory was won by the power of God, for their weapons were useless in the battle! The Spirit of God was now using Gideon (6:34); (see Zech. 4:6 and 1 Cor. 1:26-31). The pitchers would hide the light of the torches and would also make a great deal of noise when broken; and these effects, added to the shouting and the blowing of the trumpets, would certainly rout the enemy. The vessel, torch, and trumpet also have spiritual significance. We must be clean, broken vessels for God to use (2 Tim. 2:21); we must let our lights shine (Matt. 5:16); and we must "trumpet out a clear witness for Christ (1 Thess. 1:8). Paul may have had Gideon in mind when he wrote (2 Cor. 4:1-7). The steps in Gideon's victory are easy to trace: he had a promise to believe (6:12,14; 7:7-9), an altar to build (6:25-26), a vessel to break, a lamp to bum and a trumpet to blow. And God gave the victory!

C. He conquered his feelings (8:1-3) - Ephraim had not been included in the original army (6:35), but Manasseh, the sister tribe, had a share in the battle. However, Gideon called Ephraim to capture the two famous princes, which they did. But they were provoked! How easy it is for the flesh to act even when God has given a great victory! Gideon could have "told them off" but instead he practiced (Prov. 15:1) "A soft answer turneth away wrath..." It is better to control our feelings than to conquer a city (Prov. 16:32); and if Gideon had offended his brethren, he might never win them back (Prov. 18:19).

IV. Gideon the Compromiser (8:4-35)

Gideon and his 300 men pursued the two kings of Midian but the men of Succoth and Penuel would not assist him. Their attitude provoked Gideon and he promised to avenge himself. This seems to have been the beginning of his backsliding, for God certainly would have dealt with these rebellious men in His own way (Rom. 12:19). The army attacked the host of Midian by surprise, when the kings were feeling confident (8:11); and on his return march, Gideon punished the men of Succoth and Penuel (8:16-17). He then slew the two kings who had themselves slain Gideon's brethren.

After winning a great victory, we must always beware of temptation; for Satan attacks us subtly when we least expect it. The nation asked Gideon to become their king and to establish a royal family; but this he refused. "The Lord shall rule over you!" However, Gideon used this opportunity to ask for "a lesser thing" - all their earrings and ornaments. This seemed like a fitting gift for a great deliverer; but keep in mind that these golden trinkets were associated with idol worship. Read Gen. 35:1-4 for the association between earrings and idolatry.

Gideon made an idolatrous "ephod" with the 70 pounds of gold he collected! What the Midianites could not do by means of swords, Satan accomplished with earrings! It is sad to see the man who overthrew Baal's altar now setting up an idol of his own! Unfortunately, the whole nation forsook God and worshipped the new god (27). When Gideon died, the nation went right back to Baal (vs. 33)!

The subsequent history of Gideon's family is not encouraging. He had many sons and daughters by his "many wives" (vs. 30), but these were all slain (with the exception of Jotham) by the son of Gideon's concubine, a man named Abimelech (vs. 31; Judges 8:1-6). Furthermore, before Gideon's family was slain, they were not treated kindly by the nation (vs. 35). How soon the sinful heart of man forgets both the Lord (vs. 34) and the men who have served them faithfully.

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