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Verses 1-25

This is the story of perhaps one of the most remarkable conflicts in the whole history of the people. As we have seen, it was a time when they had been cruelly oppressed as the result of disobedience. It was of the utmost importance that their deliverance should be evidently by divine action. Nothing would have been more disastrous at that time than for them to have imagined that they were able to extricate themselves from the circumstances in the midst of which they were suffering.

Therefore, by divine direction, the first work Gideon was called on to do was to sift the army. In response to his call to arms, thirty-two thousand had responded. The result shows that they lacked the very attitudes necessary for success in war. The first test imposed was a proclamation that all who were faint-hearted and afraid should return. They were given their opportunity to act voluntarily on this principle. The result was that twenty-two thousand went back.

And still the number was too great because the quality of the men making up the ten thousand lacked something of vital importance. A simple test was imposed which revealed these things. Men who bent down to get a drink of water were not sufficiently alive to the danger. An ambush might surprise them. Men who stooped and caught the water in their hands and lapped it were watchers as well as fighters. In other words, men who took no unnecessary time over necessary things were the men who were needed. This sifting resulted in the return of nine thousand seven hundred. Thus the army of Gideon was reduced to a handful of three hundred.

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