What comes to mind when hearing the name, Gideon? Do you think about asking the Lord for a sign and fleeces? Or maybe defeating an army with just a few men? Gideon was a judge of Israel and lived in the Promised Land around 1100 BC. Today, we want to look at a small but powerful part of the story, the choosing of the 300 men in Gideon’s army.
It was a hot day of touring in the land of Israel when we pulled up next to a beautiful garden with a small creek running through it. We walked up to the mouth of the creek where a spring came out of the rock face. Our guide sat us down and explained that this was the Spring of Harod, where Gideon reduced his army down to 300 men.
After reading from Judges 7, our guide asked us why did Gideon choose those men who knelt to drink from the water and released those men who bowed and lapped the water?
We gave the typical answers we had heard all our lives in some form:
After all the answers were given, he gave us another interpretation from a Jewish perspective. As Gideon watch his army either kneel or bow he could instantly tell who was in the habit of bowing before idols, and who had remained faithful to God.
Those who bowed down did so in the same way they bowed to the idols they worshipped. Those who knelt demonstrated that they were faithful to God and not in the habit of bowing to the idols of their day.
All of our answers had pointed to physical reasons for the men being disqualified from the final selection. But when one considers the Jewish perspective of the choosing of Gideon’s army based up the men’s spiritual strength and conviction, one has a completely new perspective on what God was doing at this spring.
God was looking for men who not only were physically strong and mentally alert but above all faithful to Him! He was ready to defeat the enemies of Israel but needed a group of men who were committed to Him and His ways.
In our day we are raising children in a climate much like the time of the Judges of Israel. There are many idols to bow down to. But it is so encouraging to read that we follow in a long line of parents who for centuries have raised up godly children. Children who don’t bow to the idols of their day, but kneel before the Lord alone. We are their spiritual descendants! Like the faithful parents before us, our children will be tested and they will either bow or kneel. Let us pray that when they come to the waters of testing, the Lord finds them faithful.
May God bless all you raise those who kneel!
Article first published in Spring Issue of the Homeschool Life Magazine
The Bible study of Gideon and his army can be found as part of Grapevine Studies Old Testament Overview.