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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 near 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 delivered 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.
Joshua & Judges. 14
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 trumpet, 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
consternation, beheld the lights gleaming around them in all directions, while each blazing torch showed a trumpeter, still pouring forth the notes of encouragement to the hosts, as they supposed, that followed in his rear. An army of immense magnitude, they imagined, must be ready for the assault, and were about commencing it. Panicstruck, they were thrown into such confusion that they began to slay each other throughout the whole encampment, every man's sword being against his fellow, and all supposing that the Israelites were in the midst of them. Those that could escape did so; and it was not long before they were bending their flight from the plain of Jezreel towards the Jordan.
The news of what had happened soon reached the neighboring regions. Now that victory appeared to be on the side of Gideon and his band, those who were before fearful rallied to the conflict. The tribes of Naphtali, Asher and Manasseh poured forth their armed men, who assembling speedily together, pursued the enemy. In the meanwhile Gideon sent messengers throughout all Mount Ephraim, calling upon the inhabitants to raise forces sufficient to take possession of the fording-places of such streams as the Midianites would endeavor to cross, especially those of the Jordan, and thus to intercept them in their flight.
The command was obeyed. Two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb, were taken and slain, and their heads afterwards brought to Gideon ; while the Israelites continued the pursuit across the Jordan, and quite to the borders of Midian.
About this time the men of Ephraim complained bitterly to Gideon, because he had not summoned their forces to the war at its very commencement. They felt their pride wounded, or would have it believed that they did, by this neglect. And yet they must have known that Gideon acted under the divine direction, and that they could have easily offered their services, at any time, to aid in delivering their nation from its oppressors. The reply which they received showed both the humility and wisdom of Gideon. “What have I done now,” said he, “ in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?” Does not your comparatively small action excel what might seem to be the greater one of myself and the three hundred men whom I led to battle 1 “God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb : and what was I able to do in comparison of you ?”
.4 soft answer turneth away wrath. He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.