The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ ” (Judges 7:2)
Can you imagine how Gideon must have felt when the Lord told him his army was too big! They were outnumbered 135,000 to 32,000 to begin with — a factor of over 4 to 1. In accordance with the provision of the law, the soldiers who were fearful returned home (Deut. 20:8). Gideon lost over two thirds of his men, and suddenly he was down to 10,000. Then the Lord said that the people were still too many! You must be kidding, Lord! Do you really know what You’re doing? “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8–9 NKJV)
The Lord instructed Gideon to bring his remaining men down to the water to drink. We never know when God is testing us in the ordinary experiences of life. Almost all of the soldiers got down on their knees to drink, bringing their mouths directly to the water. Only 300 of them stayed standing, quickly scooping up the water and lapping it from cupped hands like dogs. They stayed alert with their eyes on their leader, drinking just enough to quench their thirst without laying down their arms or compromising their safety. With this small group of 300, the Lord would deliver Israel from their oppressor. Yes, God has chosen the foolish, the weak, the base and the despised things of the world to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence (1 Cor. 1:26–29).
If Gideon remembered that with God’s help one soldier would chase 1,000, and two put 10,000 to flight (Deut. 32:30), he could be encouraged that 14 pairs of soldiers would have been enough to defeat the entire Midianite army! For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few (1 Sam. 14:6). We may also live in a day of small things, but let’s remember that the Lord of hosts says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).