Charles Spurgeon called faith “the hand that grasps.” The book of Hebrews describes it as assurance of what is unseen. But if you had asked Gideon to define faith, he probably would have said that faith is the confidence that God is greater than we are. Gideon wrestled with fear, but his greatest struggle was in the realm of faith.
Today’s passage describes Gideon’s truly greatest victory. When the Midianites, Amalekites, and eastern nations across the Jordan joined together in a military coalition and encamped in the valley of Jezreel, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He mustered the fighting men of his own tribe, along with those of the tribes of Asher, Zebulun, and Naphtali. But the presence of the Spirit did not immunize Gideon from fear. Gideon devised a series of tests designed to provide proof of God’s intention to save Israel by his hand (Judges 6:36). Yet Gideon already had all the proof he really needed. He had God’s word on it.
Perhaps this is why God decided to cut Gideon’s army to less than a bare minimum. The Lord began by ordering all those who were fearful to leave, reducing Gideon’s troop strength by two thirds (Judges 7:3). Next the Lord devised a test that would whittle away the rest, until only three hundred men remained. We live in an age that tends to equate blessing with expansion. We are tempted to think that if God is in an endeavor, it ought to get bigger, become stronger, and do so faster. But for Gideon the mark of God’s presence was just the opposite. For him the condition of blessing was not the presence of resources but their absence. This is an important corrective for us, because it reminds us that when it comes to serving Christ our confidence is not to be in our resources but in God.