Sunday – December 15, 2013 – Read the Word on Worship
Word On Worship – Sunday – December 15, 2013 Download / Print
Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, both you and your son, also your son’s son, for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” But Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you.”
We are not told exactly when it was that the men of Israel asked Gideon to be their king, but it would seem that it was not long after the victory over the Midianites. What they are really proposing is that Gideon accept the position of being their king and that his ruling over Israel would result in a dynasty. This would assure the Israelites of a strong military leader as well as a continual line of succession. One cannot read this request without thinking ahead to 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites demanded that Samuel appoint a king for them, a man who would go before them into battle.
On the surface, it would appear that Gideon (rightly) rejected this offer. He seems to do this in very plain words: “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” The right words for the right time. And so we continue to think of him as a hero, looking at his recent conduct as a momentary lapse in conduct and character. But in just a moment – just a couple of verses, actually – our optimism regarding Gideon will go up in flames when we read that he created an ephod that he then set up in his home town as an object of worship. Obviously, something bad happened to Gideon after the miraculous victory God achieved using Gideon and this negative change in Gideon persisted for the rest of his life, nearly forty years.
Gideon’s refusal to be Israel’s king is the right answer theologically speaking but that, in reality, he hypocritically lived a king’s life. For all intents and purposes, Gideon had a harem. The average Israelite certainly did not have many wives and concubines. Not to mention the tax and contributions from each of the soldiers’ collected spoils of war. He may not have taken the title of king but he certainly acted like a king. All the right words were spoken but all the wrong actions were taken.
Gideon reminds us how easy it is to stumble and fall and how few there are who truly “finish well.” That is what makes me so sad when I read about Gideon – he did not finish well. And we should be warned when we realize that many of those who once did well did not finish well. This would include people like David, his son Solomon, and Hezekiah as just a few examples. It does not get easier and easier to live the Christian life as you get older; it gets harder. How important it is to recognize our weakness and to cling to our Lord throughout our lifetime, so that we may finish well.