Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites. (1-3) Succoth and Penuel
refuse to relieve Gideon. (4-12) Succoth and Penuel punished.
(13-17) Gideon avenges his brethren. (18-21) Gideon declines the
government, but given occasion for idolatry. (22-28) Gideon's
death, Israel's ingratitude. (29-35)
Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the
cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with
such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And those
who are the most backward to difficult services, will be the
most angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here as
a great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is best
removed by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to their
passion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of a
weak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high.
Gideon's men were faint, yet pursuing; fatigued with what
they had done, yet eager to do more against their enemies. It is
many a time the true Christian's case, fainting, and yet
pursuing. The world knows but little of the persevering and
successful struggle the real believer maintains with his sinful
heart. But he betakes himself to that Divine strength, in the
faith of which he began his conflict, and by the supply of which
alone he can finish it in triumph.
The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerous
opposition from false professors than from open enemies; but
they must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelites
in name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemies
of their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are ready
to faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. And
they shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and the
more they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist.
Gideon's warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Many
are taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who would
not learn otherwise.
The kings of Midian must be reckoned with. As they
confessed themselves guilty of murder, Gideon acted as the
avenger of blood, being the next of kin to the persons slain.
Little did they think to have heard of this so long after; but
murder seldom goes unpunished in this life. Sins long forgotten
by man, must be accounted for to God. What poor consolation in
death from the hope of suffering less pain, and of dying with
less disgrace than some others! yet many are more anxious on
these accounts, than concerning the future judgment, and what
Gideon refused the government the people offered him. No
good man can be pleased with any honour done to himself, which
belongs only to God. Gideon thought to keep up the remembrance
of this victory by an ephod, made of the choicest of the spoils.
But probably this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to it,
and Gideon intended this for an oracle to be consulted. Many are
led into false ways by one false step of a good man. It became a
snare to Gideon himself, and it proved the ruin of the family.
How soon will ornaments which feed the lust of the eye, and form
the pride of life, as well as tend to the indulgences of the
flesh, bring shame on those who are fond of them!
As soon as Gideon was dead, who kept the people to the
worship of the God of Israel, they found themselves under no
restraint; then they went after Baalim, and showed no kindness
to the family of Gideon. No wonder if those who forget their
God, forget their friends. Yet conscious of our own ingratitude
to the Lord, and observing that of mankind in general, we should
learn to be patient under any unkind returns we meet with for
our poor services, and resolve, after the Divine example, not to
be overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.