Summary: We too may doubt our own abilities and potential. But let us never doubt what God can do with us when we trust and obey Him. We can fight and face any fear when we know the Lord is with us.
Opening illustration: A mother asked her 5-year-old son to go to the pantry to get her a can of tomato soup. But he refused and protested, “Its dark in there.” Mom assured Johnny, “it’s okay. Don’t be afraid. Jesus is in there.” So Johnny opened the door slowly and seeing that it was dark, shouted, “Jesus, can you hand me a can of tomato soup?”
This humorous story of Johnny’s fear reminds me of Gideon. The Lord appeared to Gideon, calling him a “mighty man of valor” (Judges 6: 12) and then telling him to deliver Israel out of Midian’s hand (v. 14). But Gideon’s fearful reply was, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (v. 15). Even after the Lord told Gideon that with His help he would defeat the Midianites (v. 16), he was still afraid. Then Gideon asked the Lord for signs to confirm God’s will and empowerment (vv. 17, 36-40). So, why did the Lord address fearful Gideon as a “mighty man of valor”? Because of whom Gideon would one day become with the Lord’s help.
Introduction: Though we expect Him to say, "You are getting what you deserve," the Lord works through weak people to bring about liberation. Do not miss in these chapters the heart of the matter: the Lord taking action in spite of us! If He did not assert Himself in our lives we would all go the way of rebellion. I was reminded of this recently as I heard someone publicly expressing universalism. This person pictured a God for everyone regardless of faith and obedience. I thought of just how appealing this was to the human mind in rebellion against the God of holiness and law. And then I thought further of the mercy shown to me by His divine "intrusion" into my wayward life with the gospel of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ! The Lord asserts Himself so mercifully in our lives. He does not have to do so. He is not obligated to pursue sinners to deliver us from our sin and turn us from our way to His way. He could justly - fairly - leave us in our sin to face His righteous judgment. But thankfully, He shows mercy. This is what strikes us in this text. In mercy, the Lord raises up a reluctant deliverer for an obstinate people.
How to fight your fears?
1. … The Lord is with you (vs. 12-13a, 16)
Gideon started his career as somewhat of a coward (Jdg. 6), then became a conqueror (Jdg 7:1-8:21), and ended his career as a compromiser (8:22-35). But more space is devoted to Gideon in the Book of Judges (100 verses) than to any other judge; and Gideon is the only judge whose personal struggles with his faith are recorded. Gideon is a great encouragement to people who have a hard time accepting themselves and believing that God can make anything out of them or do anything with them.
"Valiant" (hayil/chayil) conveys that has the basic idea of strength and influence.
"Warrior" (gibbor) is an adjective meaning brave, strong, mighty and is used in a description of God Himself (El’ gibbor" usually rendered as the Mighty God (see Isaiah 10:21; Jer. 32:18).
"Valiant warrior" frequently had a military connotation. In the present context it appears that these name by the Angel of Jehovah anticipated Gideon’s role as a warrior and was intended to inspire confidence. It is possible that the phrase simply identifies Gideon as a prominent citizen in his town which is how it is used of Boaz.