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God’s Strength in Weakness

The book of Judges contains a significant truth about the nature and character of God: He delights in using the weak things of the world (1 Corinthians 1:26-29). The story of Gideon is a good example.

For seven years Israel had been oppressed by the Midianites because of their sin of idolatry. Year after year the Midianites would invade Israel like swarms of locusts and destroy all the produce of the land. Finally Israel cried to the Lord for deliverance and God answered by choosing Gideon to be their deliverer.

An angel came to Gideon and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianite. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14).

Gideon’s first response was to give the reasons why he couldn’t be the deliverer of Israel. He said, “My clan is the weakest in Manassah and I am the least in my father’s house.” His reasons were valid. He was from an obscure family in the smallest tribe of Israel. But God delights in using the weak things of the world. He said to Gideon, “Surely I will be with you and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.” (Judges 6:16). Gideon’s triumph over Midian would not be because of his ability but God’s ability in him.

He blew the trumpet for war and sent messengers throughout the land to summon the people to war. 32,000 men responded. But once again the point is made that God delights in using the weak things of the world to demonstrate His glory. God said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me. Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead” (Judges 7:2-3). When Gideon told the army what God had said 22,000 of the fighting men turned around and went home. 10,000 men remained. Gideon must have thought this is the right number; this has to be the right number.

But the Lord said there were still too many men for this army. He told Gideon to bring the men who remained down to the spring of water beside their encampment and He said, “I will test them for you. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, This one shall not go with you, the same shall not go” (Judges 7:4).

God’s test was to have all the men drink from a stream of water and all those who put their faces down to the water to drink were to depart but the men who took water up in their hand to drink so they could keep watching for the enemy, were to become Gideon’s army. 300 men passed this test.

There were approximately 135,000 men in the Midianite army. Judges 7:16 says, “… they were lying in the valley as numerous as locusts and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” In comparison, the Israelite army was 300 men. The odds looked impossible. But God chose this army on purpose to demonstrate to Israel and the nations that His strength is made perfect in weakness.

God is not looking for our ability, our strength, our perfection. Rather He looks for our availability in spite of our weaknesses. That kind of people God can trust to win the war and give Him all the glory.

Submitted by: Sandra Gooderham