If you followed my lengthy series about Moses earlier this year you’ll know that one thing it really did was make me appreciate God’s ability to use unlikely people. The Bible’s full of examples of this and one that you’ll hear a lot of people refer to is Gideon. Much like Moses, when Gideon received a mission from the Lord he expressed a whole lot of self doubt.
Judges 6:15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
Gideon asked for a few signs from the Lord so he could know for sure that it was God giving him this mission. Once he was finally convinced, Gideon goes off to war in order to beat back the Midianites that were oppressing and harassing the people of Israel. What follows is a truly memorable and incredible series of events. God works hard to assure that He is the only person who can receive the glory for the impending victory of Gideon. When Gideon gathers troops, God decides that it’s too many. With 32,000 soldiers, God knows that Israel will credit their own might for the victory and won’t see it as a God given victory, so He instructs Gideon through a few phases of sending soldiers home. The end result is Gideon having an army of just 300 men. (If you want to read this great stuff for yourself it’s all in Judges chapters 6, 7, and 8.)
So Gideon and the 300 soldiers go down to the camp of their enemy. How many enemies were they up against?
Judges 7:12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number, as the sand that is on the seashore in abundance.
So yeah, a whole bunch. And in a clear, inarguable move of God, Gideon and the 300 soldiers win the day not with military might, but by getting into position around the camp with trumpets and torches. They blow the trumpets and cry out, and the enemy army goes nuts. They start killing one another and run away. Gideon calls in some more soldiers of Israel and they start hunting down and taking out the broken remnants of the enemy army.
There’s a little more to the story as Gideon chases down the last of the bad guys, but the end result is that Israel wins the war. They win it in a way that makes it impossible to give the glory to anyone other than God. A group of 300 men with trumpets and torches defeated a massive enemy army. You can’t assign that kind of thing to anyone other than God, right?
Well, it’s what happens next that inspired this series of blog posts. The battles are over, God has delivered the victory he promised to Gideon, and Israel’s oppressors are done for. And here’s what the people say to Gideon.
Judges 8:22-23 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule over us, you and your son and your grandson also, for you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23 Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.”
First off, I just have to point out how great Gideon’s response is. He wasn’t a perfect man, as you learn if you read the rest of Judges chapter 8, but I really admired his quick rebuttal of their offer.
What really jumped out at me about this situation in the Bible is just how quick we are to assign credit to men when it’s God who deserves the credit. The people of Israel didn’t say “God saved us from the hand of Midian”, they said “for you (Gideon) have saved us from the hand of Midian.”
It’s not like we can’t appreciate when someone does something for us. I don’t think it’s wrong for the people of Israel to express their appreciation of Gideon, but they took it too far. I can see them thanking Gideon for being an obedient servant to the Lord, but they were assigning way more than that to Gideon. They wanted to make him their king! Sure, you can thank the person, but praise the God.
Here’s the deal. Most people want credit for the things they do. If I receive a gift from someone, and give them zero acknowledgment, that’s likely going to hurt their feelings. I think it’s just a very tricky line that we deal with in these situations. I don’t see anything wrong with telling someone “thank you” for something they did for me. The danger comes from assigning too much credit to them. Like the people of Israel, we too can be quick to want to make someone our king. Especially someone who we feel is helping us or doing something for us. It can go from “thank you” to “be my king” much faster than you realize. And sometimes it can happen even if you’re not aware of it. At some point your mind has started assigning all sorts of credit and glory to this person and you’ve elevated them to a high place in your life, maybe without meaning to. The problem with that is that if we’re living correctly, we’ve already got a king and his name is Jesus. And no throne has two seats, we either have Jesus upon the throne of our lives or someone else.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, today I ask you to help us take a deep and honest inventory of ourselves. Who sits upon the throne of our lives? You know me, Lord, you know my heart and my history. I’ve always struggled with this, I’ve always been so quick to elevate people to lofty positions in my life. I do love and appreciate many people, but I’m done making them kings. The throne in my life was designed for one person, and Jesus, I pray that you rule from that throne in me forever. I ask right now Lord that you search us deeply, because it’s not the obvious situations that get us, it’s the ones we don’t even realize. Maybe we’ve elevated someone to king of our lives without realizing it. If that’s the case for anyone who’s reading this prayer or even for me, please make it painfully obvious. Uncover our eyes to see that situation clearly so we can get it corrected. I do appreciate people, Lord, you know I do. You’ve populated my life with so many amazing people that I’m overwhelmed by it. The army of people who prayed for my health earlier this year, the friends I’ve made on the worship team, the incredible pastor who teaches me, my dear family that has supported and helped me, I’m overrun with incredible people in my life. God, I ask right now that you keep my love and appreciation of these people on the right track. Allow me to honor and love them without ever forgetting that you are the architect of my life, that you are the source of my blessings and goodness. Instead of me getting myself off track by elevating anyone too highly in my life, Lord, I want to just ask you to bless those people. Repay each of them ten times what they’ve paid into my life. You know how much love and blessing they’ve been to me, and my prayer today is that you multiply that love and blessing back on them times ten. Show them your love, Lord, and let them forever know that their God loves them dearly. Father, I want to thank you for being my king. King Jesus sits upon my throne, and what a joy that is. I prayed earlier today how much I loved living in your kingdom, Jesus, how real it feels to me to be your subject. Make me a useful member of your kingdom, work through me to help others come to accept you as their lord and king. I love you so much, King Jesus, and I give you all glory and honor and praise on this day. In the precious name of Jesus I pray, amen.
The week is trucking on and I hope it’s a good one for all of you so far. I’m going to wrap up my look at “Be my king” on Thursday with a personal story about someone who really helped me out last year. Until then, I love you guys, and never forget that God loves you with a mighty, unfailing love. It simply cannot fail.