Chapter 7: The Lord Chooses 300 by the Water
Gideon has 32,000 troops of Israelites with him, but the Lord tells Gideon that he wants to reduce their numbers. He explains that he doesn’t want Israel to get cocky and think that it was by their hand and power that they were able to conquer the Midianites. A smaller number of troops defeating a larger number will be a sign to the smaller group (Israel) that they could not have done it without the help of the Lord.
Gideon tells the group, that anyone who is fearful may return home. So 22,000 Israelites return home, leaving a group of 10,000. The Lord tells Gideon that this number is also too large and tells them that he will reduce their numbers even more. God commands Gideon to bring the 10,000 troops to the water where he will test them.
By the waters, Gideon tells him that every man who gets on his knees and drinks out of the river shall be sent home. But every man that drinks with his hand shall be kept with him to fight. After this little test (verses 4-6), only 300 men did not get on their knees to drink from the river.
The reason for doing this is simple, those who are down on their knees drinking the water are not as aware of their surroundings and make a poor soldier. Those however who stand on guard at the watering hole, only swooping down quickly with their hands in a cupped motion getting a little water at a time are worthy to be called soldiers. They are aware of their surroundings and will not easily be taken out by the enemy.
We can liken this to wildebeest or any other animal going for a drink at a watering hole where crocodiles are present. The crocodiles are like the enemy and the wildebeest or any other animal are the Israelites, those who are not careful and are just greedy to get water without being aware of their surrounding will be eaten. This can be applied many ways, but one way I like to look at it is that the water is the world and what we choose to partake of. Those who are righteous need certain things of the world, shelter, food and water. Sure we can indulge ourselves every once and a while and have fun. But we must not take part in the activities of the world without losing focus on what matters most. Those who get lost in the world, and are consumed by the water that it has to offer will be sitting ducks for Satan (the crocodile) to lay hold and consume them.
Gideon takes his army of three hundred and divides them into 3 groups. With these 3 groups of 100 men he marches towards the Midianites using trumpets and lights in candles they appear to be a larger group and the Midianites flee for fear, and are defeated by the Israelites.
Chapter 8: Gideon Frees Israel and Dies
Gideon pursues and destroys the Midianites. He frees Israel but refuses their invitation to be a king over them. After Gideon dies, Israel once again returns to their idol worship of Baalim.