Summary: Gideon defeated the Midianites. He was the "mighty warrior". He made a critical mistake in his life and led the way to idolatry once more.
Gideon - A Critical Mistake
Thomas Huxley stated in 1902, "A man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes."
The battle was over. Gideon and the 300 were triumphant. The enemies of Israel were subdued and they were free to work and worship as they pleased. They could do as they liked.
1. Call for a King - v. 22 - 23
The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.”
The Israelites wanted Gideon to king. They wanted someone to rule over them. Gideon made the perfect choice. He had just delivered them in a miraculous battle ending in the defeat of the enemy. He had the Lord’s ear. They would have a king just like all the other nations around them. It was reasonable and made perfect sense but it was not a godly choice.
But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.”
Gideon refused to rule over them. He would not be their king. He would be their judge. He goes further and states that his sons would not rule over them either.
Gideon pointed them in the right direction by saying, "The Lord will rule over you." Scripture tells us that the Lord allowed Saul to be king over Israel only because they rejected their God. 1 Samuel 10:17-19 says,
Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”
The truth Gideon spoke was an eternal truth. The nation of Israel was always intended to be a theocracy, rule by God. The Lord was to be their King and their Redeemer forever, but they rejected God eventually.
2. Call for Gold v. 24 - 26
And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.) They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.”
Gideon did have one request of the people, gold. He asked for an earring from each man from their share of the plunder. The Ismaelites and Midianites wore gold earrings, necklace, and other fine jewelry. Gideon wanted a piece from each man.
The men responded with a resounding yes. It was the least they could do for the warrior Gideon. I would imagine the men thought of it as money earned. He had risked everything in his defeat of the enemy.
So they spread out a garment, and each man threw a ring from his plunder onto it. The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks.
The collection for Gideon was piling up. Gold earrings, chains, ornament, etc. were piling up on the garment. The total weight was seventeen hundred shekels which is approximately 50 lbs.
Gideon rejected being their king but he was going to live like one. Unfortunately the payment in gold was the beginning of Gideon’s critical mistake in life.
3. A Critical Mistake - v. 27
Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town.
Gideon took the gold that had been given to him and began to make an ephod. He made a gold ephod and took it to Ophrah and placed it there.
Exodus 32:2 indicates that Aaron began collect gold earrings to fashion the calf while Moses was on the mountain with the Lord.
Remember, the altar to Baal was there originally but it had been replaced with the altar to the LORD as it had been instructed. It is the altar Gideon had sacrificed the seven year old bull to the LORD. Gideon’s first act of obedience was in this spot. It is where Gideon’s faith walk with God began.
Gideon made an ephod. It was not an image of Jehovah God nor was it a golden calf idol like that of Aaron. An ephod is an outer garment generally worn by the high priest when making an inquiry of the Lord. It rests upon the shoulders of the priest. It was a shoulder dress much like that worn by generals and ranking officers or kings. It may have had jewels with it sewn into the gold and other material used.