- Why did God, at first, refuse to deliver Israel from the Ammonites?
What caused the change in his subsequent attitude?
Cf. Jer. 18:5-11.
- What indications are there in this section that Jephthah, in spite of his unfortunate background, possessed nobility, piety and faith?
- Summarize Jephthah’s answer to the Ammonites.
To what extent do you find his arguments valid?
- Consider in this story:
(a) the sin of Gideon in association with a Shechemite women and having a son by her (see 8:31; cf. Deut. 7:3);
(b) the sin of the men of Shechem (9:4, 5, 16-18);
(c) the sin of Abimelech (9:1-5). Compare verses 56 and 57 and consider how in each the words of Num. 32:23b were fulfilled.
- Shechem was a Canaanite city which, most probably, had been assimilated into Israel.
What does this chapter teach us about the dangers of such a compromise?
Note. Verses 7-15. The first part of the parable contains a reference to 8:22, 23. Verse 15 presents the incongruous picture of great trees seeking shelter under a lowly bramble, and being destroyed in a forest fire that originated in the very thorn bush whose shade they had sought. The point of the parable is not that the Shechemites had chosen a king, but that they had selected the wrong person to rule over them.
(a) Gideon’s dealings with the complaints of Ephraim and with the lack of co-operation of the elders of Succoth and Penuel;
(b) the vigour of his pursuit and capture of Zebah and Zalmunna, and the respect that these princes showed him.
What various aspects of character are revealed here?
- What temptation did Gideon overcome?
Contrast, however, the frequent references to God’s guidance in the earlier part of the narrative with the entire absence of this in 8:24-27.
Why did Gideon, who had given such able leadership in the national crisis, fail to give adequate leadership in a time of peace?
Is it true that we tend to reply on God only when are ‘up against it’?
Note. The ephod of the high priest (Exod. 28) was a shoulder garment covering the breast and back, ornamented with gems and gold, and having in front the breastplate containing the Urim and Thummin, which were manipulated to discover God’s will. Gideon’s ephod (8:24-27) may have been an elaborate reproduction, or it may have been some kind of free-standing image. In any case it was used to ascertain God’s answer in a particular situation, but the people came to regard it as a kind of idol.
- What other principles, in addition to that expressly stand in 7:2; appear in the choice of few out of many to be the instrument of God’s victory?
In answering, observe the character defects of those rejected in the two tests Cf. 1 Cor. 9:26, 27; 10:12.
- Consider the transformation in Gideon’s attitude from spiritless acquiescence in bondage (6:13, 15) to a complete assurance of victory (7:15).
Do you know such confident assurance in your battle against the forces of evil?
Cf. Rom. 8:37; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 5:4, 5.
The Midianite oppression took the form of an annual invasion (for seven years, 6:1) of hordes of semi-nomads from Trans-Jordan.
This is the first indication of the use of the camel in warfare (6:5), which gave the Midianites an immense tactical superiority. The effect on Israel is described in verses 2, 4 and 6.
- When the people cried to the Lord, what was his first answer?
See verses 7-10, and cf. 2:1, 2; Ps. 81:8-11; Hos. 11:1-4, 7.
- Gideon was called to deliver Israel from the Midianties. But first he must make a stand for God in his own house (verses 25-32). Has this a bearing on your Christian service?
Cf. 2 Tim. 2:19, 21; Mark 5:18, 19; Acts 1:8.
- By what three visible signs did God strengthen Gideon’s father?
Consider what these signs would teach Gideon.
The story falls into four parts: (a) verse 1-5, an introduce hymn of praise; (b) verses 6-8, the situation before the deliverance; (c) verses 9-18, the rallying of the tribes and the rebuke of the irresolute; (d) verses 19-31, the victory, and the death of Sisera.
- Observe to what dire straits backsliding had reduced the tribes (verse 6-8; cf. 3:31; 1 Sam. 13:19, 22; 2 Kgs. 10:32,33; 13:3, 7). What parallel spiritual consequence is found in the life of the backsliding Christian?
- What qualities are praised in the story, and what kind of conduct is condemned? Is there a present-day application in our service for God? Cf. Luke 8:14; 9:62; Acts 15:26.
Note. Deborah clearly approved of Jael’s act, but did God approve? It was an act of treachery that abused all the accepted conventions of the age. It may be compared with Jacob’s deceit of his aged father (Gen. 27), yet in born incidents there was an element that could be approved – Jacob’s earnest desire for the blessing, and Jael’s zeal for her people against their oppressor. In the case of Jacob we know we know that he suffered severely for his treachery, although he received the blessing.
- Why do you think Barak was unwilling to undertake the campaign without Deborah?
Does this reveal a defect in his faith?
What insight does this give into God’s willingness to bear with our human frailty?
Cf. Exod. 4:13-16; Jer. 16-8; 2 Cor. 3:5,6.
- Who was the real architect of Israel’s victory?
Cf. Exod. 14:13; 2 Sam. 8:6, 14; 2 Chr. 20:15-17. What practical has application has this for us today?