A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. (Proverbs 29:11)
The story of Gideon is one of the Bible’s much loved stories and has been a children’s favourite for many generations. The protagonist was an unsuspecting hero who was taken from a lowly place of obscurity to become the much renowned judge of Israel.
However, Gideon isn’t the only hero in this story. There are thousands of others who get overlooked, but whose faithfulness and obedience is exemplary.
There came a time when Gideon amassed an army of 32,000 men to fight against the Midianites. It says a lot about Gideon’s character and leadership that such a sizeable army rallied at the call of a former unknown Israelite. However, as Gideon prepares for battle, God speaks to him and says:
You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Now announce to the army, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’” So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. (Joshua 7:2,3)
However, this number was still too big and the number was reduced further. 9700 of the willing men were sent home while only 300 were allowed to remain and fight.
Think for a minute. How would you have felt, having offered yourself for battle, now being told you are not needed? Many a brave man would take offence at this, become angry or argumentative. However, that is not what we are told happened. We are told that they handed over their ‘provisions and trumpets’ to the remaining 300. Presumably they returned home as their comrades marched into battle.
We can feel sympathy for these men. They were willing to fight for freedom from their oppressors but were rejected. However, we can also feel intensely proud of them. They acted like men, not like children. As far as we know, they did not take offence at this rejection; they did not get angry or defiant. They did what they were told, thus allowing the enemy to be pursued and a great victory won.
I wonder how many battles are lost in life because people take offence; people make loud noises about perceived injustices? How many friendships are forfeited because a man or woman ‘gives full vent to his spirit’ rather than quietly accepting a seeming reproach with dignity and godliness? There is a nobility in being used by God but there is also a nobility in waiting quietly on sidelines.
“They also serve who only stand and wait.” John Milton
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.