Judges 8* Gideon pacifies the Ephraimites. (1-3) Succoth and Penuelrefuse to relieve Gideon. (4-12) Succoth and Penuel punished.(13-17) Gideon avenges his brethren. (18-21) Gideon declines thegovernment, but given occasion for idolatry. (22-28) Gideon'sdeath, Israel's ingratitude. (29-35)1-3 Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in thecause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel withsuch as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit. And thosewho are the most backward to difficult services, will be themost angry not to have the credit of them. Gideon stands here asa great example of self-denial; and shows us that envy is bestremoved by humility. The Ephraimites had given vent to theirpassion in very wrong freedom of speech, a certain sign of aweak cause: reason runs low when chiding flies high. 4-12 Gideon's men were faint, yet pursuing; fatigued with whatthey had done, yet eager to do more against their enemies. It ismany a time the true Christian's case, fainting, and yetpursuing. The world knows but little of the persevering andsuccessful struggle the real believer maintains with his sinfulheart. But he betakes himself to that Divine strength, in thefaith of which he began his conflict, and by the supply of whichalone he can finish it in triumph. 13-17 The active servants of the Lord meet with more dangerousopposition from false professors than from open enemies; butthey must not care for the behaviour of those who are Israelitesin name, but Midianites in heart. They must pursue the enemiesof their souls, and of the cause of God, though they are readyto faint through inward conflicts and outward hardships. Andthey shall be enabled to persevere. The less men help, and themore they seek to hinder, the more will the Lord assist.Gideon's warning being slighted, the punishment was just. Manyare taught with the briers and thorns of affliction, who wouldnot learn otherwise. 18-21 The kings of Midian must be reckoned with. As theyconfessed themselves guilty of murder, Gideon acted as theavenger of blood, being the next of kin to the persons slain.Little did they think to have heard of this so long after; butmurder seldom goes unpunished in this life. Sins long forgottenby man, must be accounted for to God. What poor consolation indeath from the hope of suffering less pain, and of dying withless disgrace than some others! yet many are more anxious onthese accounts, than concerning the future judgment, and whatwill follow. 22-28 Gideon refused the government the people offered him. Nogood man can be pleased with any honour done to himself, whichbelongs only to God. Gideon thought to keep up the remembranceof this victory by an ephod, made of the choicest of the spoils.But probably this ephod had, as usual, a teraphim annexed to it,and Gideon intended this for an oracle to be consulted. Many areled into false ways by one false step of a good man. It became asnare to Gideon himself, and it proved the ruin of the family.How soon will ornaments which feed the lust of the eye, and formthe pride of life, as well as tend to the indulgences of theflesh, bring shame on those who are fond of them! 29-35 As soon as Gideon was dead, who kept the people to theworship of the God of Israel, they found themselves under norestraint; then they went after Baalim, and showed no kindnessto the family of Gideon. No wonder if those who forget theirGod, forget their friends. Yet conscious of our own ingratitudeto the Lord, and observing that of mankind in general, we shouldlearn to be patient under any unkind returns we meet with forour poor services, and resolve, after the Divine example, not tobe overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good.
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