When I learned about Gideon in Sunday School and Bible clubs, the only stories I ever remember hearing about were his encounter with God and the battle against the Midianites. Our teachers never touched on the darker side of Gideon. But there was definitely a darker side.
You see it in how he treated the two cities of Gad. You also see it here. This passage starts out positively. The people of Israel said, “Rule over us. You’ve saved us from the Midianites.” But Gideon replied, “God is your king, not me. He is to be your ruler. Not me.”
But then, he added, “I have one small request. A little gold please. Oh, and by the way, the royal robes of the Midianite kings. Oh, and one more thing, their pendants too.”
He then went on to make an ephod out of the gold he received. The purpose is not clear. However, an ephod was for God’s priests alone, and was used for consulting God. It almost seems like he was trying to take on a duty that was reserved for the priests.
One other thing that he did was to take the privilege of many kings of that time, marrying multiple wives and having 70 sons. He named one of them Abimelech, which means “My father is king.” It almost seems he was now claiming to be a king despite what he had said earlier.
Why did he do all this? I don’t know. To be absolutely fair, it should be noted that the term “my father,” was often a term used for God. So he could’ve been saying, “God is my king,” as he told the rest of the Israelites earlier. And I suppose he could’ve been just using the ephod to try to remind people to look to God.
Still, put together with everything else he did, his actions are highly questionable. And it kind of makes me think that he started to think to himself, “Don’t I deserve all this? Why shouldn’t I be like a king? After all, look at all I’ve done. Shouldn’t I have at least some perks?”
But what did that attitude lead to? For one thing, the people started to worship the ephod and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. Secondly, it led to internal strife within his own family, including a son who was not exactly God-fearing.
It is always a dangerous thing when we start pursuing things and status in this world. As with Gideon, if we make them a priority in our lives, it can lead to sin and disaster in our lives.
“But I deserve it don’t I? Look at all that I’ve done? Shouldn’t I reap some rewards?”
It’s easy to think that way. But the thing we need to remember is that everything we have comes from God. And without the the talents and resources that he’s given us, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything. And so the thing we need to do is remain humble, and not seek for what we deserve. We need to remember that what we really deserve is death because all of us have sinned. Yet God showed us mercy and grace, and it’s only because of that, that we have all that we do now.
How about you? Are you seeking what you deserve? Or are you maintaining a humble and grateful heart towards God?