“Gosh, darn people like you” Gideon 7

Last time we talked about how Gideon thought he was the least and the weakest (Judg. 6:15) so he was convinced that there was no way he could deliver Israel from the Midianites.

Interestingly, YHWH doesn’t correct this impression.  There’s no, “But you really are special, Gideon.  You shouldn’t say that about yourself.”   (Stuart Smalley would say, “And gosh, darn, people like you.”)  That’s the sort of insipid thing we typically say when trying to encourage someone.  God doesn’t worry about that, because it doesn’t matter if Gideon is the least and weakest or the greatest and strongest.

YHWH says to Gideon, “But I will be with you and you will strike down the Midianites.”  God tells him not to worry about his supposed inadequacies, but focus on God and his presence.  Previously, the text has called Gideon’s dialogue partner “the angel of YHWH” (Judg. 6:11, 12) and referred to YHWH in 3rd person language (YHWH appeared to him, “YHWH is with you”).

But at the moment of Gideon’s call YHWH speaks directly to Gideon (Judg. 6:14) and now the promise of divine presence isn’t expressed in 3rd person terms, but 1st person–“I will be with you.”  Not “he’s with you” but “I’m with you.”  Gideon should have known God was with him because he was talking with God.  But for some reason, Gideon wasn’t aware of what God was doing.  Sound like anyone you know? 

Instead of telling someone who is discouraged that they are special, perhaps we should just remind them that God is with them.  Surprisingly, even as Gideon was chatting with YHWH/an angel of YHWH he still doubted that God was present (Judg. 6:13).  Have you ever said, “If only God spoke directly to me, then I’d know what to do?”

Yeah, that didn’t work for Gideon, at least not at first (and he’ll continue to doubt along the way).

Why is it more powerful for people to hear that God is with them, than that they are special? 

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3 comments

  1. Oh, I’m really special and wonderful. Just ask me. But I don’t have the power and wisdom of the Creator of the universe. Good thing he lives in me, huh? The harder part is trusting him, because I want what I want when I want it, and things to work out my way, under my sight and control. Must…trust…God…be obedient…faith…learn humility…

  2. This has made me think a lot. You’re right; it is more powerful to say that God is with someone than that they are special (i tried saying both to myself). I don’t know why.

    maybe it is because you can argue your way out of ‘i’m special’ really speedily by comparing yourself to others (‘but i’m not as special as…’) whereas there’s no real arguing with God being with you. He just is.

  3. Soldier, it’s a good thing he’s with us, in fact that’s about as good as it gets.

    Tanya, you’re right. What does it mean that everyone is special? It still seems competitive. But the fact that God is with me is relational, I’m not alone. And for Gideon, it meant he would be empowered to perform the task ahead of him.

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