2 The LORD said to Gideon: "You have too many people on your side. If I were to hand Midian over to them, the Israelites might claim credit for themselves rather than for me, thinking, We saved ourselves. 3 So now, announce in the people's hearing, 'Anyone who is afraid or unsteady may return home from Gideon's mountain.' " At this, twenty-two thousand people went home, and ten thousand were left.
4 The LORD said to Gideon, "There are still too many people. Take them down to the water, and I will weed them out for you there. Whenever I tell you, 'This one will go with you,' he should go with you; but whenever I tell you, 'This one won't go with you,' he should not go." 5 So he took the people down to the water. And the LORD said to Gideon, "Set aside those who lap the water with their tongues, as a dog laps, from those who bend down on their knees to drink." 6 The number of men who lapped was three hundred, and all the rest of the people bent down on their knees to drink water, with their hands to their mouths.7 Then the LORD said to Gideon, "With the three hundred men who lapped I will rescue you and hand over the Midianites to you. Let everyone else go home."
Midian was thickly-populated, like a swarm of locusts, the Bible says. Gideon’s army already thought it was too small to be victorious, so when the opportunity came up for soldiers to leave, 22,000 of them hit the road. Then, God told them to make a further reduction. Apparently most people don’t lap water up like dogs. (That’s certainly more creative than counting off by 4’s.) Only 300 men remained.
Why did God reduce the army that way? Maybe it was a test of faith: This seems impossible, but God has promised victory. Who trusts and believes? Maybe it was to teach a lesson: There’s no way we won that battle by ourselves. It was only because God was with us.
The rest of Judges 7 goes on to tell us about how the army did achieve victory.
Sometimes life deals us seemingly unbeatable circumstances or impossible problems. What kind of situation might you be facing right now? Are you stressing, resigning, panicking, or relying on God? How does the story of Gideon’s victory apply to your situation?
Never one time did God ever promise that life would be easy and trouble-free. But many, many times, God did promise this: I will never leave you nor abandon you. Take your struggles and fears to God in prayer. Allow God to comfort you. Wait on God’s guidance for you. And ask others to pray for you, too.
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