Judges 8: 7, 9-21 – Consequences of Fear
7 And 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.
9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
10 Now 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.
11 And 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.
12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host.
13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun was up,
14 And 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.
15 And 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?
16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city.
18 Then 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.
19 And 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.
20 And 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.
21 Then 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.
Gideon has now captured all of the Midianite army and killed their kings! Gideon, however, has business to take care of with the people of Succoth and Penuel, the two cities that refused to help him and give his men food in yesterday’s post. Now, Gideon is leveling judgment on them for their fear and how they let fear result in wrong actions.
Today, for us Christians, God is not going to strike us dead if we live out of fear, particularly fear of other people, like the people in Succoth and Penuel did. It is important to remember that first and foremost that what we read in the book of Judges is a narrative of real people and what they really did. However, there are spiritual principles that we can learn from these stories. Today’s lesson is that letting our fear control our lives is a destructive way to live.
As an example, when we let our fear of others get the better of us and we do the same thing as everyone else on the weekends, that has bad consequences. Or, we are so afraid of the future, we never do anything, and then the consequence is that we never go anywhere. Or, we are afraid so we tell a lie and get caught in it and then sooner or later we cannot lie our way out of it anymore, there are consequences for that.
Living out of our fear brings consequences, so what can we do? First, live with integrity. If the people of Succoth and Penuel had done what is right in the first place, they would have nothing to be afraid of! Second, when we are doing right and are still afraid, remember that fear does not come from God and that His way IS the best way.
Life Step: Think about it…
What kind of consequences have you seen fear have in your life or other people’s lives?
How could living right alleviate a lot of our fears?