Old Testament wisdom from the book of Judges

This story is one of my personal favourite stories in the Bible. Since this story is a real page-turner, I encourage you all to pre-read this passage, starting from Judges 6, but I will outline the important bits as we go along.

I have chosen this story as I believe Gideon acted exactly how we tend to act in many situations today - we make excuses, experience self-doubt and even question if God's plan will work out. I believe as we unpack the excuses Gideon makes here, we can develop some understanding of how to conquer fear when God comes calling.

Let's start off with this passage in Judges 6:11:

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

13 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”

14 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”

16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.”

We see here that God wants to use Gideon to defeat the oppressive nation (Midian) that is plundering Israel right now and immediately the excuses start coming.

Excuse 1: Playing the victim.

Victim mentality is a mindset where individuals see themselves as perpetual victims of circumstances or others' actions. They attribute problems solely to external factors, avoiding personal responsibility.

We see from verse 13 that Gideon is playing the victim card - If God is with us, why does he allow these bad things to happen? He does not take any responsibility for the bad things that are happening. Gideon does not even acknowledge the fact that his town (and even his father) is worshipping Baal with altars.

Excuse 2: I am not worthy.

In verse 15, Gideon argues that he is from the tribe of Manasseh, considered the weakest among all the tribes. How often do we doubt our worthiness to fulfill God's work due to our circumstances?

Let's continue reading:

Gideon replied, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. 18 Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you.”

And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.”

19 Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah[a] of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak.

20 The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened bread, place them on this rock, and pour out the broth.” And Gideon did so. 21 Then the angel of the Lord touched the meat and the unleavened bread with the tip of the staff that was in his hand. Fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread. And the angel of the Lord disappeared. 22 When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!”

Excuse 3: I need a sign

In today's world, we often prioritize scientific proof over other forms of belief. However, in Kingdom culture, faith holds greater significance than facts. God guides us with the next steps, rather than revealing the entire roadmap, prompting us to rely on faith and trust in His perfect plan.

Gideon's request for a sign is a relatable human response rooted in risk aversion. Interestingly, God granted his request, possibly because using someone from the lowest-ranked tribe of Manasseh would bring Him the most glory in the end.

At this point, Gideon obediently follows God's instructions, despite facing opposition from the townspeople when he destroys the altars of Baal. Surprisingly, he remains unharmed. However, the Midianites, along with other Eastern regions, gather to raid Israel once more. Gideon then gathers his own people, but his faith appears to waver once again:

33 Now all the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples joined forces and crossed over the Jordan and camped in the Valley of Jezreel. 34 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him. 35 He sent messengers throughout Manasseh, calling them to arms, and also into Asher, Zebulun and Naphtali, so that they too went up to meet them.

36 Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— 37 look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” 38 And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew—a bowlful of water.

39 Then Gideon said to God, “Do not be angry with me. Let me make just one more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece, but this time make the fleece dry and let the ground be covered with dew.” 40 That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew.

Excuse 4: I need MORE signs when things change

The battle is imminent, and the situation becomes tangible for Gideon. He turns to God, requesting not just one, but two signs to confirm that God will indeed deliver him from the Midianites. How often do we find ourselves doing the same? When faced with greater difficulties or when reality sets in, we often question whether we are truly aligned with God's plan.

The Battle

Now comes the most captivating part of this story: the Israelite army, consisting of 32,000 soldiers, faces the Midianites with their massive force of 132,000 soldiers. However, God, foreseeing that the Israelites may boast and not give Him glory, decides to reduce Gideon's army:

  • 32 000 Israelites start.
  • 10 000 choose to flee when given the choice by God.
  • 21 700 are removed by God's choice (Judges 7:4)
  • 300 men are left with Gideon to take down the Midianite army of 132 000.

Gideon, along with the 300 people, achieves victory over the enemy, which you can read about in the Word.

The victory of the cross
Photo by Jametlene Reskp / Unsplash

Conquering Fear

This story is remarkable as it demonstrates that despite our self-doubts and fears regarding the tasks God calls us to, He only asks us to trust Him. God exhibits patience with us in all our weaknesses.

Let's review the excuses we encountered:

  • Excuse 1: Playing the victim.
  • Excuse 2: Feeling unworthy.
  • Excuse 3: Needing a sign.
  • Excuse 4: Demanding more signs when circumstances change.

These excuses are common in our daily walk with God. Based on these, how can we become strong and faithful leaders in our faith?

  1. Don't let your circumstances define your future

Gideon believed his tribe's status made him unworthy to conquer the Midianites, but we know that God loves using unlikely heroes. The Bible is filled with such heroes who, despite all odds, achieved great things with God by their side.

Although your circumstances may seem bleak now, remember that God can and will use anyone who is willing to step out in faith.

2. You are a child of God

Gideon initially doubts God, questioning His presence and how He could allow such hardships to befall Israel. This doubt hinders Gideon from immediately embracing his mission. If you find yourself doubting God's presence or ability, it's crucial to address these concerns so you can move forward in faith. Seek God's guidance or involve others who can help you hear from Him. Remember that as a child of God, you are deeply loved and worthy!

Gideon also doubts himself, considering his tribe's lack of power and his low status within it. Inadequacy, insecurity, fear, and shame often trigger such responses. However, God surpasses any obstacle or emotion we face!

3. Faith + Fear

Feeling fear is natural and can even protect us. However, it is faith in God and His capabilities that empowers us to overcome. Gideon acted on the strength he had, despite his fear the night before. Encouraged by the Lord, he realized that God bears the burden. It was his faith that enabled him to triumph over the enemy.

4. Embrace the challenge

When we must put everything on the line in faith, it can be intimidating. However, knowing that God, who can do anything, is on our side helps us navigate any situation.


The story of Gideon portrays a man initially plagued by fear, reluctance, and self-doubt when confronted with the task of defeating an army that had been oppressing Israel. Yet, God used this unlikely hero, who, despite his initial doubts, mustered the faith to conquer his fear and walk alongside God onto the battlefield. With only 300 faithful warriors, Gideon emerged victorious against an army of 132,000.

By applying the lessons from this story—refusing to let circumstances define your future, recognizing your worth as a child of God, having faith to overcome fear, and embracing challenges—you can fulfill God's perfect purpose for your life, regardless of the circumstances you encounter.