Dave Burnette's Commentary

Judges Chapter 8

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel 
Date Penned: (550 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Compromise in the Promised Land (c 1-21)
Theme: The Rescue of Israel by the Judges (c 3-16)
Message: Gideon Punishes Those Who Refuse to Help (v 1-35)

Judges 8 Commentary

(8:1-3) A Warning About Pride - Ephraim's leaders felt left out because Gideon had not called them to join the battle but had left them in place to "clean up" the escaping Midianites ("the gleaning of the grapes"), and so they angrily confronted him. Gideon assured the leaders of Ephraim that their accomplishment was even greater than that of his own clan (Abiezer). His diplomatic explanation pointed out that this rear guard had managed to capture the enemy's generals, thus cutting off the leaders from their army. Not every necessary job is a highly visible leadership role. Much of the necessary labor of any effective enterprise is considered by many to be dirty work. But such work is vital to getting any big task done. Engineers and millionaires may design and finance an elegant building, but it is the bricklayers who raise the structure. The church needs all kinds of workers to help it function effectively. Pride causes us to want recognition. Are you content to be God's bricklayer, or do you resent the work God has given you?

(8:5-9) Consequences of Doubting God - The leaders of Succoth and Penuel refused to help Gideon, probably fearing Midian's revenge should he fail (Gideon's army was 300 men chasing 15,000). They should have realized that victory was certain because God was with Gideon. But they were so worried about saving themselves that they never thought about God's power to save. Because of our fear, we may not recognize God's presence in other people and may therefore miss God's victory. If this happens, we must face the often-bitter consequences of failing to join forces with those God has chosen to do his work. Because God will prevail with or without you, eagerly join others who are engaged in his work. Lend support with your time, money, talents, and prayer.

(8:10-11) The Midianites Didn't Anticipate the Resilience of Gideon -  The Midianites were escaping into the desert area, where the tent-dwelling nomads lived. They didn't expect Gideon to follow them that far.

(8:15-17) Gideon Keeps His Word - Gideon carried out the threat he had made earlier (8:7-9). Were Gideon's actions justified in the midst of war, or should he have left the punishment up to God? Gideon was God's appointed leader, but the officials of Succoth and Penuel had refused to help him in any way because they were afraid of the enemy. They had shown neither faith nor respect for God or the man God had chosen to save them. We should help others because it is right, regardless of whether we will benefit personally.

(8:20-21) The Ultimate Humiliation - For the kings to be killed by a boy would have been humiliating. The two kings wanted to avoid that disgrace, as well as the slower and more painful death that an inexperienced swordsman might inflict.

(8:22-23) Gideon Refuses to Be King - The people wanted to make Gideon their king, but Gideon stressed that the Lord was to rule over them. Despite his inconsistencies, Gideon never lost sight of the importance of putting God first. Is God first in your life? If so, he will affect every dimension of your life, not just what you do in church.

(8:26-27) Wealth and Idolatry - In the ancient world, those who were very wealthy put ornaments on their camels as a way of displaying their riches. Both men and women wore earrings to symbolize their devotion to worshiping their gods and to remind them to listen to their gods. All the gold the Israelites plundered from the Midianites would have been worth a lot, After Gideon's rise to power, he seems to have become carried away with this accumulation of wealth. Eventually, it led the Israelites to idolatry.

(8:27)  The Ephod - An ephod was a linen garment worn by a priest over his chest. It was considered holy (Exodus 28:5-35; 39:2-24; Leviticus 8:7-8). Gideon probably had good motives for making the ephod, intending it to be a visible remembrance commemorating the victory. Unfortunately, the people began to worship the ephod as an idol. Sadly, many decisions that stem from good motives produce negative results. This often happens when no one stops to ask, "What might go wrong?" or "Is there a possibility of negative consequences?" In our plans and decisions, we should take time to anticipate how a good idea might lead to a potential problem.

(8:28-32) Gideon's Failed Family Relationship -  This relationship between Gideon and a concubine produced a son who ended up tearing apart Gideon's family and causing tragedy for the nation. Gideon's story illustrates the fact that people who succeed in one area of life aren't necessarily perfect in other areas. Gideon led the nation well but apparently failed to carry his wisdom over into his personal and family relationships. And though he officially rejected the role of a king in Israel, having many wives and sons was something that, in this culture, only kings or extremely wealthy people practiced. This was also something that Moses had forbidden for any future kings in Israel (Deuteronomy 17:17), and it certainly set Gideon and his family up for trouble. No matter who you are, defining your relationships around personal convenience, pleasure, and power will cause problems. And just because you have won a single battle with temptation does not mean you will automatically win the next one. We need to be constantly watchful against temptation in our relationships. Sometimes Satan's strongest attacks come after a victory.

(8:33) Baalberith -  Baal-berith means "Baal (lord) of the covenant." Worship of this idol may have combined elements of both the Israelite and Canaanite religions.



Dave Burnette's Life Application

Jesus is Our King


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we Continue in the book of Judges with Chapter 8 and we see Gideon punishing those who refused to help, Gideon refusing to become king, and the end of Gideon's life. What catches my eye is Israel wanting a King. Gideon said "No" God is our King but the fascination of Israel wanting someone to rule over them, verses trusting in God, exposes their hearts. In applying this passage today we see that not much has changed. People still want a king or president to rule over them and deliver them verses trusting in our Lord to provide and deliver us. It reminds me of our elections today as each party back stabs other to satisfy the peoples desire to have a king, or in this case a president. Our nation has turned its back on God refusing to repent and in the process will bring judgement on our nation. This process will bring the pages of Judges to our lives as God will have to raise a Judge to deliver us from the false gods we are worshiping. How about you? Do you desire a man to be king and rule or deliver you? Let us learn from our text today, to repent as individuals and as a nation, allowing the Lord to be King of our lives.


Judges 8

Judges 8

 1And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.

 2And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?

 3God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.

 4And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.

 5And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they be faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian.

 6And the princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army?

 7And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.

 8And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered him.

 9And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.

 10Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword.

 11And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host; for the host was secure.

 12And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.

 13And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,

 14And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, even threescore and seventeen men.

 15And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men that are weary?

 16And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.

 17And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.

 18Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men were they whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou art, so were they; each one resembled the children of a king.

 19And he said, They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother: as the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you.

 20And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, and slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he was yet a youth.

 21Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man is, so is his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that were on their camels' necks.

 22Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son's son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian.

 23And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

 24And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)

 25And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey.

 26And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels' necks.

 27And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.

 28Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon.

 29And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house.

 30And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives.

 31And his concubine that was in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech.

 32And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

 33And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god.

 34And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side:

 35Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.