A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: Gideon learns to trust God


For a long period, the Israelites were subdued and oppressed by the Midianites, who would regularly devour their crops and livestock. But God sent his angel to Gideon, a timid young man who had little faith in God’s power to deliver Israel. Despite Gideon’s protests, the angel told him that he would defeat the Midianites. 

When the Midianites and Amalekites, about 135,000 strong, came to attack the Israelites, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land to gather together the people against their enemies. However, Gideon was battling with doubt, so he asked God to confirm that he would deliver Israel. Gideon laid out a sheep’s fleece overnight and asked God to drench it, whilst leaving the ground dry, which is exactly what happened. But as Gideon was still unsure, he asked God to reverse the miracle the next night. Sure enough, in the morning the fleece was dry and the ground covered with moisture.

Gideon chooses 300 soldiersThen God told Gideon that the Israelite army was too big and had to be reduced so that the coming victory would be God’s alone. Those who were scared were to return home. Gideon told the remaining 10,000 to drink from the nearby stream. Only those who lapped the water with their hands were selected to fight in the battle, meaning only 300 remained. 

That night God sent Gideon to spy out the enemy’s camp, where he overheard one Midianite tell another about his dream, in which a bread roll knocked over a Midianite tent. The men interpreted the dream as an omen that Israel would win the coming battle.

 Gideon praised God for such a favourable sign and ordered his troops to surround the Midianites, each carrying a trumpet plus a torch inside a jar. At Gideon’s order, they smashed their jars and blew their trumpets, shouting loudly. The Midianite army was thrown into confusion and in the darkness started attacking each other. Then they fled, hotly pursued by the victorious Israelites. 

The story illustrates:

  • The importance of trusting God rather than being overwhelmed by circumstances 
  • God uses frail but obedient humans to fulfil his purposes
  • God’s ability to defeat his enemies without human aid if he wishes.

Related topics

Big ideas from the Bible: Miracles, Dreams, visions and prophesy, Doubt and faith

Bible References

Judges 6:3-4; Judges 6:12-16; Judges 6:33-40; Judges 7:1-22
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