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down on the bank, and putting his mouth to the water take a long and leisurely draught. But he who has the great object of his journey fully in view, and is fearful of being left behind by his party, satisfied with the least quantity of refreshment, will quickly and dexterously dip the water from the stream with his hand, made hollow for the purpose, and throw it into his mouth. Trarelers tell us that this custom still prevails, and that it is surprising to see with what rapidity these motions of the hand from the water towards the mouth will be repeated by those who are quick in their movements, and have acquired the neces
"The people are yet too many,” said the Lord again to Gideon; "bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there ;” (to satisfy thee on whom thou canst finally rely as men of undaunted bravery ;) "and it shall be that of whom I say unto thee,” (or make known by the result) This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.”
In obedience to the command, the ten thousand were marched down to the water, and the Lord gave the promised test to Gideon. "Every one," said he, "that lappeth of the water with
his tongue as a dog lappeth,* him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon
his knees to drink." There were but three hundred who, in drink ing the water, belonged to the former class. These remained, and undoubtedly with great alacrity, to compose the little band of heroes that under Gideon, and in the strength of the Almighty, was to meet the immense host of the Midianites. By these three hundred, who now took the necessary provisions and their trumpets, the Lord told Gideon he would save the nation; while the rest, being so directed, returned to their tents, to go where they pleased.
The following night, Gideon received a divine command to attack the Midianites, with the assurance that they should be delivered into his hands. He was told, however, if he had any fears remaining, to go down to their encampment with his servant, and to approach near enough to hear what some of them might say. The result would remove his fears, and encourage him to go forward to battle. So condescending, still, was Jehovah to his servant ; willing to bear with the misgivings that we should think
* The quick and repeated motion of the hand towards the mouth, and the accompanying motion of the tongue when the water is thrown into the mouth, is compared to the lapping of water by a dog.
would readily arise in his mind, when comparing the diminutive number of his men with the thousands upon thousands of the enemy.
Gideon went, attended by Phurah his servant, and soon beheld the tents of the Midianites and their allies, stretching far and wide along the valley ; the men reposing in sleep, and an uni versal silence prevailing. As he drew cautiously
the camp, a voice met his ear. He listened and heard one of the soldiers relating a dream to his companion. "Behold," said he, "I dreamed a dream, and lo, a cake of barley-bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent and smote it that it fell, and overturned it that the tent lay along."
The one to whom the dream was told seemed to be struck with its singularity, and gave this interpretation of it: "This is nothing else,” said he, save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God deli. vered Midian and all the host."
Both the dream and the interpretation were, doubtless, the result of a providential, and perhaps of a supernatural influence. Gideon understood it to be so. He bowed himself to the ground, in silent yet grateful adoration of the goodness of God in furnishing him this additional confirmation of his faith, and, on returning to his encampment, made known to his followers what
had happened. "Arise,” said he, "for the Lord hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” Having, now, every apprehension removed from his own mind, he could thus use the language of unqualified assurance to those whom he was to lead on to victory.
Our duties, my young friend, call not for the exercise of faith under any such circumstances as those in which Gideon and his followers were placed. We have no such appalling dangers and difficulties to encounter. We do not belong to a little band of three hundred, with an enemy of one hundred and thirty-five thousand to meet in battle. God's dealings with us, at the present day, are of the most gentle and encouraging kind. And yet how much we need continually to cry,
Lord, increase our faith.” It is so feeble. It is so inefficient even for sustaining the comparatively small trials which are sent to prove
it. But what, alas! is the condition of those who have no faith? Without any filial confidence in God; without any reliance on his Son as the only Saviour ; without any feeling of dependence on his Spirit for the enlightening of the mind and the sanctification of the heart,—they are truly without hope. For without faith it is impossible to please God.
Gideon defeats the Midianites. The Ephraimites offended.
The offenders at Succoth and Penuel punished.
Gideon divided the three hundred men into three companies, under their respective commanders. He placed in each man's hand a trum. pet, and gave him, also, an empty pitcher with a burning lamp, or torch, inside of it. He then explained to them the mode of attack upon the enemy which he intended to adopt; directing them to do as he did, and to cry on all sides, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”
It was a little after midnight when Gideon and his men approached the Midianites, all of whom were sunk in sleep, except the few sentinels that were on duty. The Israelites so arranged themselves, at considerable distances from each other, as to surround the camp; and the signal being given by Gideon, each blew his trumpet and brake the pitcher which he held, and holding up his lamp, cried out, " The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon."
The effect was overwhelming. Awaked from their slumbers by the blasts of the shrill-sounding trumpets, and the strange noise of the crashing earthen-vessels, the Midianites starting up in