Remember who walks behind you

Published 1:31 am Sunday, June 16, 2024

By R.A. Mathews

The lions sauntered along the road without fear. A half dozen of them, passing a line of vehicles driving through Africa. The caption on that video read, “The way you walk, when you know who walks behind you.”

It reminded me of a warrior.

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Last week, we covered part one of his story, where an angel with a staff appeared to Gideon as he was threshing wheat in hiding. Gideon was afraid of the Midianites, who had raided Israel for seven long years. It was a desperate situation.

Gideon spoke bitterly of how God had abandoned His people. Then Gideon was given a sign, and he bravely committed to a deed punishable by death—destroying the idols that had brought God’s wrath upon Israel. 

With that mission accomplished, God sent Gideon to fight the Midianites. But the man was afraid and asked for another sign.

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘…  behold, I am putting a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on all the ground, then I will know that You will save Israel through me … ‘  When he got up early the next morning …  he wrung the dew from the fleece, a bowl full of water” (Judges 6:36-38).

Gideon wanted another sign. 

“Then Gideon said to God, ‘Do not let Your anger burn against me …  let it now be dry only on the fleece, and let there be dew on all the ground.’ And God did so that night; for it was dry only on the fleece, and dew was on all the ground” (Judges 6:39-40).

An emboldened Gideon mustered an army of 32,000 men to fight the Midianites. But God had an unusual talk with Gideon. Here’s what the Lord said.

“The people who are with you are too many …  otherwise Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has saved me’” (Judges 7:2).

So God instructed Gideon, who told the fearful men to return home. And 22,000 left.  

But the army of 10,000 was still too big—God wanted Israel to know His power alone had defeated the Midianites. So, the Lord narrowed the number again. This is a great story.

“Then the Lord said to Gideon, ‘The people are still too many; bring them down to the water …  You shall put everyone who laps the water with his tongue as a dog laps in one group, and everyone who kneels down to drink in another’”  (Judges 7:4-5). 

As it turned out, only 300 men knelt to drink. God told Gideon that this was his army and to send 9,700 men back.

But the Lord knew Gideon was afraid and gave him another sign. That same night, God sent Gideon and his servant near the enemy army where Gideon overheard a dream. Here’s what happened.

“When Gideon came …  a man was relating a dream …  And he said …  a loaf of barley bread was tumbling into the camp of Midian, and it came to the tent and struck it …  so that the tent collapsed. And his friend replied, ‘(It’s) the sword of Gideon …  God has handed over to him …  all the camp’” (Judges 7:10-14).

Gideon immediately worshiped God. He returned to the 300, divided them into groups of 100 each, and gave each man a trumpet and a pitcher with a torch inside. 

Gideon said, “…  When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets around the entire camp and say, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon!’” (Judges 7:17-18)

As the middle night watch began in the Midianite camp, Gideon and his 300 blew the trumpets, smashed the pitchers, lifted the torches, and shouted, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” (Judges 7:20)

Perhaps this will remind you of Joshua, who took Jericho with the blast of trumpets, except the whole Israelite army had rushed into Jericho. Here, each of Gideon’s 300 men stood in place.

“And each stood in his place around the camp; and all the (Midianite) army ran, crying …  and the Lord set the sword of one against another even throughout the entire army; and the army fled … ” (Judges 7:21-23).

That’s how Gideon defeated the mighty Midianites with the bold hand of God.

Many of us lose courage in the face of tough, ongoing challenges. If you find yourself afraid and discouraged, as Gideon was with the angel, get right with the Lord. Then remember to walk unafraid, knowing who walks behind you.

The Rev. Mathews (BA, MDiv, JD) is a newspaper faith columnist and the author of Emerald Coast: The Vendetta. Write to her at (Just one t in Mathews)

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