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Day 72 – Thru the Bible
Today we continue Judges and Psalms.
Judges 6 – Those whom God designates “savior” know His presence. Nowhere is that more clear than in Gideon’s request for a sign, when God Himself meets Gideon in the person of the angel of the Lord. This is the first of three confirmatory signs given to encourage the uncertain leader. Later, Gideon “sets out the fleece”, not as a method to determine God’s will but as specific confirmation of what is already promised, namely, that God is with him and will save Israel through him. Our God willingly condescends to meet His servants because He understands our fear and frailty—qualities much more evident in Gideon than his heroism.
It is confirmation of God’s presence that enables Gideon to pull down idols.
In the incarnation of Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14), what does God promise us about His presence? Hint: Matthew 1:23; 28:20.
It is only through Jesus’ work on our behalf that we are able to destroy the strongholds of idolatry in our lives (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).
In spite of Gideon’s objections, neither the presence of difficult circumstances nor the absence of God’s dramatic work should be taken as evidence that God has forsaken us. Neither does a flawed or weak family background impede our usefulness in advancing the kingdom of God.
How do we see this truth in Paul’s life? Hint: 1 Corinthians 15:9–10).
Judges 7 – Belief that my own hand has saved me is the supreme folly. This mind-set ascribes victory to human strength, great armies, and political kingdoms. By reducing the army to a mere three hundred persons, God’s deliverance becomes the only explanation for victory.
Gideon’s temptation to fight his own battles, rather than lean on God, reflects a genuine internal struggle for all believers.
In the face of injustice, do I commit my way to God and wait for him to act or do I take matters into my own hands?
The irony of the battle cry, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon,” is that the swords mentioned are those which the Midianites turn on one another. God is the only hero of this story as He condescends to use human weakness for great victory.
How does God brings ultimate victory over all our sin and circumstances?
With Gideon’s three hundred, as at Jesus’ cross, we learn that, when circumstances look bleakest and when human weakness is most apparent, God’s power and providential care are most evident.
Judges 8 – The Lord is prominent in orchestrating the events of the first battle, but His commands are noticeably absent from the second battle. This is not a battle “for the Lord” but violence of Gideon’s own making as he ruthlessly mistreats his own people and seeks vengeance for personal injuries.
Again we learn that Gideon’s victories cannot be attributed to his own heroic nature. In fact, we are meant to understand that his leadership methods, though common in many places in the world, are not honoring to God and must be countered and overcome by God’s grace.
What type of leadership does the Gospel call us to (as exhibited by Jesus)? Hint: Luke 22:24–27; 1 Peter 3:18.
God is the ultimate source of our success. The Israelites want Gideon to begin a kingly dynasty to include “your son and your grandson”. With his words, Gideon rightly rejects this desire, indicating that the Lord alone is king. But we learn that Gideon’s words do not reflect his heart, when he later names his son Abimelech (translated, “My father is the king”; see Judges 9:1). The failure of Israel (and Gideon) truly to recognize that God alone is their king strikes at the heart of their covenantal relationship with God.
We tend to elevate the instrument of God rather than God Himself. Personal success may breed a sense of personal privilege and invincibility. In contrast to his initial rejection of kingship, Gideon now requests symbols of monarchy: gold and the purple garments. And, in an additional and startling betrayal of his God, Gideon uses spoils from the victory God has just provided to devise a form of idolatry that ensnares this “hero’s” family and people.
Still, the mercy of God prevails for Gideon, although his family will suffer sad consequences for the sinful path he blazes for them (we will see this in following chapters). Thus, we learn that God is the giver of all good gifts and we must employ power, wealth, and status to glorify Him and serve others rather than to create personal idols that ensnare ourselves, our family, and our community (James 1:17–18). God is gracious to us in so alerting us to the dangers of sin and idolatry. We are also reminded that only Jesus was the warrior-king who proved faithful to the end.
Knowing that Jesus alone has defeated sin, how does that truth draw us to Him?
Psalm 72 – The first verse of this psalm prays for justice for the king of Israel, the son of David (in this case, Solomon). While we must pray for all rulers to be righteous, this prayer will be completely answered only in Jesus, the ultimate Son of David (Matthew 20:31).
By praying that the people would be “blessed in him,” the psalmist is asking to be hidden in the righteousness God provides through Israel’s king. Ultimately this prayer is answered in Jesus.
Solomon also prays for earthly justice. The Old Testament believer pleaded for God to vindicate His name by effecting justice on the earth. Likewise, Solomon imagines a land in which people flourish economically and the needy are protected. By His word and example, Jesus announced a kingdom that brings relief, healing, and life to people physically as well as spiritually (Luke 4:18–19).
Prophetically, Solomon understood that his Greater Son’s kingdom will extend far beyond his kingdom geographically, ethnically, and chronologically. To the believer this is a comforting thought.
What is the kingdom we have received in Jesus like? Hint: Hebrews 12:28.
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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