My goodness but some of these Israelites could be so petty! Did you notice?
The beginning of this chapter picks up just after Gideon’s victory over the Midianites, and the men of the tribe of Ephraim took him to task for not including them in the fight. Never mind that Gideon was following God’s instructions in how to fight the battle.
But instead of rising up in defense of himself, or reminding them that God told him who he should take into battle, he answered them with humility and gentleness. As a matter of fact, he gave them the higher honor by saying that what they did was greater. They got to pick off the enemy’s stragglers, those who were trying to escape, which was of great benefit to Israel. This quickly appeased the Ephraimites.
And this is a good lesson to those of us who, quite naturally become defensive when we feel that we’re being unfairly attacked. Somebody comes after me, my first reaction is to rise up with, “Oh yeah, well let me tell you….!” It’s not a particularly attractive trait, I’ll admit. Again, I take my hat off to Gideon, and make a mental note to try to use his example next time something like this happens to me.
And of course the supreme example of this kind of reaction is Jesus, who said in the Sermon on the Mount that the meek shall inherit the earth. In this usage, meek doesn’t mean cowardly or weak. It means humble, as Gideon was.
Jesus also said, if your enemy strikes you on the cheek, turn your other as well. It’s a tall order, but with the leading of the Holy Spirit, it is possible, as we saw today.