Gideon’s Doubts

Reflection from Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.

All this week we’re reading from the book of Judges.  These are not judges like Judge Judy!  Judges in the Old Testament were the leaders of the people after Moses until the time the Israelites began anointing kings, a period of about 150 years.  These Judges exercised a military role and sometimes acted as civil rulers.

Today we hear about Gideon who was one of these judges and served during a time of intense trouble in Israel.  He was, by all accounts, a study in contrasts. On the one hand, he was a man who led a handful of warriors against a far larger army and won a great victory. On the other hand, Gideon was filled with doubts, fears and questions. He was a man who questioned God’s plan, yet he did God’s will.  However, even when Gideon was unaware of it, God was with Him, watching him and planning for his future. When the Lord spoke to Gideon, He came with words of hope and assurance. “The Lord said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you.”

Gideon’s nation was suffering terrible oppression from the Midianites. The people watched helplessly as their land was stripped, their homes and villages were destroyed, and their lives endangered.  They felt as though their nation was demolished, and their lives were over.

Although they cried out to God, they didn’t believe He was listening, or that God was able to do anything to help them. God, however, sent them Gideon to remind them of the Lord’s grace in their lives and to call them to a place of repentance.

Once again, the Lord looks at the heart and transforms those called by His power, like Gideon, into something powerful and amazing. We heard today that Gideon was so afraid of the enemy that he was hiding behind a winepress threshing wheat. Despite his timidity, however, Gideon came to be known as the greatest Judge of Israel.

Throughout the Scriptures God specializes in using those who seemingly don’t have what it takes to be a great leader and follower:

  • He used Moses, a shepherd and a murderer, to deliver His people.
  • He used Esther, a slave, to deliver Israel.
  • He used Matthew, a tax collector, to write about Jesus, the King of the Jews.
  • He used Saul of Tarsus to write over one-half the New Testament.

God used all these people, and countless others down through the years, for His purpose despite their reluctance and fear.  May we learn from Gideon and all these others to stop making excuses about why we can’t do what the Lord wants us to do, and just get about doing it.