JUDGES 7:9-15

Judges 7:9
God gave Gideon little time in which to get depressed.  YHWH gave His command to attack the very night Gideon’s army had been reduced to a terribly small amount, three hundred.  God did not prepare Gideon for battle by sending him extra troops; rather, He prepared the soldier by sending reinforcements to his faith.
Believers need a firm foundation for their faith.  This re?quires a word from God.  Faith lives on His promises.
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.    (R. K. Carter)
When your spirit begins to falter, find an applicable prom?ise of God in the Scriptures.  Then ask the Lord to cause that promise to take on life within you.

Judges 7:10
YHWH had given the command to attack, but knew Gideon’s dis?position.  Since Gideon was the kind of man who needed constant encouragement, YHWH offered another sign to bolster faith.  God’s spoken word should have been sufficient, but the Lord graciously condescended to meet Gideon’s need.

Judges 7:11a
Gideon will be his own spy.  The intelligence informa?tion he gleans will provide him a good omen.  What he secretly overhears down in Midian’s camp will be the prop his faith needs.  How lov?ing it was of God to continue leading Gideon along step by step.
Be thankful for a God who accommodates Himself to our parti?cu?lar need.  In an Austrian city, there is a bridge in the walls of which stand twelve statues of the Savior, picturing Him in var?ious capacities, including Prophet, King, Priest, Pilot, Phy?si?cian, Shepherd, Sower and Carpenter.  When country people come to market, they pause to worship before the Sower Savior.  Arti?sans pray before the Carpenter, sailors worship before the Pilot, the sick seek healing before the Great Physician.  We reject any vestige of idolatry, but see beauty in the intended thought.  Je?sus reveals Himself in varying ways to help us in all our needs.

Judges 7:11b
Gideon and Phurah made their way to the outskirts of the Midianite camp.  YHWH was kind to allow a companion to accompany Gideon for moral support.  Phurah is one of the many unsung he?roes who have excelled in being an encourager to a more famous friend.  Greatness ascends with the aid of friendships.

Judges 7:12
Midian proved as weak as, in addition to being as nu?merous as, grasshoppers.  Also, their camels, which were as numerous as the sand by the seaside, proved to be unstable as shifting sand.

Judges 7:13
Gideon and Phurah heard two Midianites talking, presuma?bly in a tent.  This would allow the spies to ?hear, but not be seen.  The talking Midianite dreamed a loaf of barley bread had tumbled down toward the Midianite camp, struck a tent and completely over?turned it, stakes, ropes, canvas, and all.  The Midianite was evidently amazed a little barley loaf achieved things far beyond its size.  One might expect a boulder or sword to wreak such hav?oc, but who would suspect it could be done by a loaf of bread.

Judges 7:14
The listener immediately interpreted the overturned tent as a picture of Midian’s defeat.  Their tent encampment was about to be destroyed, and the destruction would be wrought by none other than Gideon, the “barley loaf.”
Barley, the most common cereal in Palestine, usually sold at half the price of wheat (1 K 7:1).  Barley bread is very coarse, has a bad taste, and is generally eaten by people only when they find it impossible to secure wheat.  Barley bread was usually the fare of livestock and the poor, including lepers and beggars, and thus came to picture a thing despised.
For ages, haughty Middle East Bedouins have called their en?e?mies “eaters of barley bread,” a description of disdain and der?ision.  Arabs still refer to Jews as “cakes of bar?ley,” deeming followers of Islam “wheat” and followers of Judaism “barley.”
Midian may have reduced Israel to eating barley.  If this were the case, the Israelites would have looked especially con?temptuous in the eyes of their oppressors.
Midianites may have even been talking about Gideon in “bar?ley” terms.  One thing is sure, the dreamer’s friend immedi?ate?ly associated the barley loaf with Gideon.  The invaders de?spised the Israelites and counted them as insignificant.  Gideon and his 300 appeared to be a thin, weak, limp loaf of barley bread.  In fact, against an army of 135,000 they seemed less likely of suc?cess than a loaf of bread against a sturdy Bedouin tent.
Only God would ever consider using a “barley loaf” in His can?nons.  There seemed to be a ludicrous shortage in what Gideon had at his disposal, but his men were protected by the Holy Spi?rit.  This made them invincible.  A tallow candle fired from a rifle can penetrate a door, and a straw blown by a tornado can penetrate a tree.  The power is not in the object itself, but in the force impelling it.  The same is true of believers.

Judges 7:15a
God had been at work behind enemy lines.  YHWH had even in?vaded the chaotic world of dreams and had brought order there.  God is not asleep when we sleep.  He always works in our behalf.
YHWH had worked a miracle and Gideon knew it.  The “remarka?ble providences” were too numerous to be coincidental.  YHWH had smuggled Gideon and Phurah safely behind enemy lines, led the two to exactly the right tent, put the appropriate dream in the Midi?anite’s mind at the right minute, allowed the dreamer to wake up the moment Gideon and Phurah arrived, had the dreamer tell his dream to a friend, made sure the hearer interpreted it correctly.  Gideon, awed by it all, knew exactly to Whom honor was due.
Gideon’s secret foray gave him a crucial piece of military in?formation:  panic had begun to stalk Midian’s camp.  They were sleeping restlessly.  Gideon knew the Midianites were afraid.  “A nameless awe, which goes far to produce the defeat it dreads, was beginning to creep over them” (Maclaren).  Fear was Gideon’s “fifth column.”  His name had made a big hit on the Midianite grapevine.  The obscure farmer had become famous.  His reputation would be an added weapon in the battle against the Midianites.

Judges 7:15b
Gideon returned to share with his 300 men the encouragement he had received.  Notice, he essentially told the men what God had told him (v. 9).  This is always the best way for a leader to encourage God’s people.  Tell them what the Lord has said, speak to them from His Word.  Gideon altered a phrase used by the Mid?i?anite (v. 14).  The latter had referred to the Almighty with a general term, “God,” but Gideon, being a man of faith, spoke of his God personally, calling Him by His name, “YHWH.”
In human eyes, 300 versus 135,000 seemed rash, but Gideon was now ready to take the challenge.  Nothing could sway him from his responsibility.  When Pericles was in the service of his country, he devoted himself wholly to that task.  Of him it was written, “There was in the whole city but one street in which Pericles was ever seen, the street which led to the market-place and the council-house.  During the whole period of his admini?stra?tion he never dined at the table of a friend.”  With similar resolve, Gideon went forward, obsessed with his responsibility.
However hopeless a situation looks, there comes a time to do your duty.  Remember the noble example of soldiers at Balaklava:
Forward, the Light Brigade! Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew someone had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the Valley of Death
 Rode the six hundred.    (Tennyson)
By human standards, Gideon’s mission seemed no less suicidal, but braced by the promise of God, the poor and unknown Manassite (5:15) marched forward into immortal fame.
“Despise not the day of small things” (ZC 4:10).  Given time the acorn will become not only an oak, but also a whole forest.  Given plenty of room, the rill will eventually become a river.  Given a chance, an unsung Gideon may become an instrument of God to achieve mighty victories.