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Verses 1-8

The Army Reduced.

v. l. Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod, in the southwestern foothills above the plain, so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley, where their outposts commanded a free view of the valley.

v. 2. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands (there were about 32,000 soldiers of Israel against 135,000 of the enemy ), lest Israel vaunt themselves against Me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. This danger the Lord wanted to remove by a radical measure.

v. 3. Now, therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from Mount Gilead, Deuteronomy 20:8. The name Gilead was not confined to the country east of Jordan, but was also applied to a region between Ephraim and Manasseh. The tremblers were dismissed from this place, for they would only have been a hindrance in battle. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.

v. 4. And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many, and there was still danger of their vaunting themselves in case of a victory; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them, put them to a test, for thee there; and it shall be that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. The entire region is well watered, there being no lack of brooks.

v. 5. So he brought down the people unto the water; and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, not taking the time to kneel down, but quickly scooping up some water with the hollow hand and drinking from its cuplike curve, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself, in one division; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. They were here under no constraint of any kind, and would show their natural characteristics very plainly.

v. 6. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men, such as showed their natural readiness, their alertness, disregarded their comfort; but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water, preferring to be comfortable rather than keenly watchful.

v. 7. And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped, sipping the water from their cupped hands, will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand, the ratio being one to four hundred and fifty; and let all the other people go every man unto his place, return home.

v. 8. So the people took victuals in their hand, rather, they, the three hundred, took the people's food, which had been prepared for the campaign, and their trumpets; and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, back to his own dwelling, and retained those three hundred men. And the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley. Gideon had only one advantage, that of location; every other consideration was against him. God has His own ways of ruling the world and of waging His wars, and the believers must simply learn to trust in Him.

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