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judge from outward appearance, that it is difficult for bim to believe that God is with him when providence frowns upon bim. Note, under dark distressing providences, the christian calls in question the former loving kindness of the Lord. The Chaidee reads it, Is the Shekinah of the Lord our help?'-Ver. 14. A smile from heaven, a look of love from the Lord Jesus, strengthens our faith, and communicates courage and strength to our sonls under our greatest distresses. Ver. 15. The Lord's presence and fayour gives the soul the greatest sense of its unworthiness before the Lord,- Ver. 16. The Lord's promise is the ground of faith, and the greatest encouragement the soul can have under its own weakness and unworthiness.
Ver. 17. Though the Lord's promise is the ground of hope, and his presence is the joy of faith, yet how apt is the christian, like Gideon, to long after fresh signs and tokens to confirm his faith and confidence in the Lord, when bis promise is all sufficient in itself!--Ver. 21. The condescen. sion of the Lord is marvellously great in granting at times to his people their particular desire.--Ver. 22. Such is our weakness and frailty that we cannot bear much of the Lord's presence and power without being overwhelmed with fcar.
Ver. 23. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee."]_That is, all is well, all is safe and secure; for the Lord did not come to destroy him, but to employ him. Note, how ready is the Lord to comfort the hearts of those that tremble at his word, and to give them assurance of his mercy that stand in awe of his majesty,
Ver. 24. 66 Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom."]Which signifies the Lord send peace, or the Lord of peace, or, that the Lord is peace : which is the namc and character that our dear Lord bears; “ This man shall be our peace," Micah v. 5. as he is the author and giver of peace, having made peace between God and man by his blood, and thereby become our peace, Eph. ii. 14. The covenant of peace was sealed by bis death; and the name of the altar being Jehovah-shalom, denotes that it was Jehovah Jesus, God in our nature, that scals and secures peace for his people. Note, the Lord often sends providential peace, and likewise spiritual peace, by wenk and unexpected means. Farther, in the time of thic christian's greatest distress, when there seems to be no appearance of mercy, then the mercy of the Lord is very near.Ver. 27. The presence and power of
the Lord engage the christian to be active for his glory in the face of the greatest dangers; and hereby Gideon shewed the valour of his name, which signifies a breaker or a destroyer of wickedness.-Ver. 37, 38. Notwithstanding the Lord's presence, power, and promise to his people, yet bow apt are they to desire fresh tokens of his favour before they can believe the truth of his love! Some have thought that Gideon's fleece was an emblem of the word of God; that its being wet with the dew was a figure of the dew of the divine blessing upon the word ; and by wringing out a bowl-full, that it pointed out the full supply of grace, life, and salvation by a preached gospel.
This chapter presents us with Gideon ju the field, conimanding the army of
Israel, and routing the army of the Midianitos; for which great exploit we found in the former chapter how he was prepared by his converse with God, and his conquest of Baal. We are here told, 1. What direction God gave to Gideon for the modelling of his army, by which it was reduced to three hundred men, ver. 1-8. 2. What encouragement God gave to Gideon to attack the enemy, by sending him incognito into their camp to hear a Midianite tell his dream, ver. 9-15. 3. How be formed bis attack upon the eneny's camp with his three hundred men, not to fight them, but to frighteu, ver. 16--20. 4. The sucress of this attack, it put them to flight, and save thicm a total rout, the disbanded forces and other their neighbours, then coming in to his assistance, ver. 21 -- 95. It is a story that shives very bright in the “ book of the wars of the Lord.”
THIS chapter contains the Lord's wonderful delirer. ance for his people by the land of Gideon, the Lord's trying the faith of Gideon, and delivering his people by a few, and likewise his strengthening Gideon's faith by the reJation of a dream of one of the Midianitos.
Ver. 20. “ nd they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.”]--As the name Gideon signifies a breaker or a destroyer, so his victory was obtained not only by breaking down the altars of Baal, but likewise by his ordering the carthen pitchers to be broken that were in the hands of the soldiers, by which the lamps gave a sudden and terrible blaze, in the dead of the night, which much confounded the enemy; and thereby the name of Gideon is an instrument joined with the Lord. But let it be observed, that the sword of the Lord,” is all in all to the success of the "sword of Gideon :" Gideon was to be employed as an instrument, but God was the principal agent ; for Gideon's sword, or name, was an insignificant figure till the sword of the Lord was prefixed to it: then its authority and power was known among the Midianites : which may be considered as emblematical of the spiritual victory of ihe gospel, and efficacy of the word of God over those who are enemies to Christ, to bis people, and the way of the Lord's salvation. The blowing of the trumpets may denote the promulgation of divine grace, which is the gospel sound, namely, the great trumpet that was to be blown by the prophets, the apostles, and the ministers of the word, who are the trumpeters in Zion; which trumpet gives a certain sound of the way of safety, life, and victory over all our enemies; therefore it is said, “ Blessed are they that know the joyful sound," Psalm lxxxix. 15. The holding forth the lamps may signify the light of the gospel, which is the light of life, and a " light to lighten the gentiles,” which is held forth ministerially, as a light which shincth in a dark place. And this light being carried in earthen vessels may denote the ministers of the word, who are the gospel earthen vessels, in wbich the lamp, oil, light and unction of the Holy Spirit shines forth, that the “excellency of the power may appear to be of God, and not of man.” And is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon,” may denote the efficacy of the divine word, which is the “sword of the Spirit," and that ministers are only mighty through God to the pulling down of Satan's kingdom, 2 Cor. iv. 7.
This chapter gives us a farther account of Gideon's victory over the Midian
ites, with the residue of the story of his life and government. (1.)
THIS chapter informs us of the complete conquest of Gideon over Israel's enemies; of the ingratitude of his brethren, the men of Succoth, and the men of Penuel, because Gideon was but mean in Israel, and his followers but few, though the Lord was with him, and he was a mighty man of valour: which may be figurative of many of the ministers of Christ, who are mean as to their outward circumstances, yet they are sent of the Lord, and are mighty men of valour; but because they are poor in Israel, and but few follow them, how are they despised! and how ungratefully do their brethren act towards them! for a morsel of bread to keep them from fainting, even in the Lord's work, is more than they will give them : this is astonishing, yet it hath been often seen, and found, that brethren, like the men of Succoth, have been void of compassion.
Ver. 27. “ Which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house."]—That is, the ephod, which Gideon had made, though he undoubtedly made it with a good intention, namely, as a memorial of the great salvation which the Lord had wrought for his people by him; but it seems that Gideon has something farther in view, and that he intended to consult the Lord by it; for God having commanded bim to build an altar, and to offer sacrifice thereon, he might think himself authorised to act as a priest in his family; therefore it was that he desired the priestly robe, namely, the ephod, which was only to be worn by the priest, Exod. xxyiii. 6. And what might induce Gideon to this might be, that the tabernacle of the Lord was at Shiloh, which was in the tribe of Ephraim, and the Ephraimites had offended Gideon with their rough expostulation, ver. 1. Besides, every tribe having now a government, it might make them desire their religion among themselves; for we read but little of Shiloh, and of the worship of God there among the judges. But bowever upright Gideon's intention was, it became a snare to Israel, and thereby they departed from the command of the Lord, Deut. vii. 25, 26. which brought deep distress upon them. Note, whatever aim or good intention we may bave, we must not dare to alter the authority of God's word. Farther, Israel's going after this ephod sbews us how fond we are of the inventions of men, even to the breaking the command of God, which Israel did, Deut. xii. 5.
Ver. 34. " And the children of Israel remembered not the Lord their God.”]-That is, to be thankful to him for his kindness to them, in delivering them out of the hands of their enemies : which was figurative of the ingratitude of our hearts, and of that aptness there is in us to forget the manifold mercies of the Lord to us.
Ver. 35. “ Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon.”] – Whose kindness had been very great to thein, in fighting for them, and in bis government of them : notwithstanding all this his family was forgot: which shews that tbere is no dependence to be placed in any creature, no, not in a brother, though we may think that they are under the strongest ties of gratitude to us for kindness done to them,
The apostacy of Israel, after the death of Gideon, is punished, not as the
former apostacies, by a foreign invasion, or the oppressions of any neighbouring power, but by intestine broils among themselves, which in this chapter we bave the story of, and it is hard to say, whether their sin or their misery appears most in it. It is an account of the usnrpation and tyranny of Abimelech, who was base son to Gideon ; so we must call him, and not more modishly, his natural son, he was so unlike him. We are here told, 1. How he thrust himself into the government at Shechem, his own city, by subtilty and cruelty, parti. cularly by the murder of all his brethren, ver. 1-6. 7. How his doon was read in a parable by Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, ver, 7--21. 3. What strifes there were between Abimelech and his friends, the Shechenites, ver. 22--41. 4. How this ended in the rnin of the Shecbemites, ver. 42-49. And of Abimelech himself, ver. 50-57. Of this meteor, this ignis fatuus of a prince, that was not a protector, but a plague to his country, we inay say, as once was said of a great tyrant, that he came in like a fox, ruled like a lion, and died like a dog. “ For the transgression of a land, such are the princes thereof."
IN this chapter we have an account of the barbarity of Abimelech, in causing his brethren to be slain by wicked men in Israel, and of his being reproved by a beautiful parable, which was an ancient way of giving reproofs, and was like so many darts, which came upon the head of Abi. melech and the men of Sbechem, for their barbarity and murder.