Outright Refusal to Help

At least procrastinating Reuben made the pretense that they were at least discussing the possibility of starting the commencing of initiating the beginnings to help Deborah and Barak. Sure they never got around to actually doing anything, but at least they could placate themselves with their “good intentions”.But in our chapter for today, Judges 8, we find his brother tribe, Gad (Succoth), not even pretending.At first read of Judges 8, I’m impressed with Gideon’s humble and modest response to his brother tribe of Ephraim (verse 1-3). Almost tempted to call him a smooth talker, or savvy, and yet scripture tells us that “a gentle answer can turn away wrath“, and it certainly did in this situation.The Ephraimites wanted more than just to enjoy deliverance from the Midianites that God worked through Gideon. No, they wanted the glory and fame that went along with achieving the victory themselves. And Gideon gave it to them! How accommodating and humble.But after Gideon left the Ephraimites behind, he crossed over the Jordan River and ended up in another tribe of Israel’s land — Succoth, that of the tribe of Gad (verses 4-7).Gideon’s response to their mocking refusal to help his weary men seems the exact opposite of what we saw in the first three verses. As I read the two responses Gideon gave, one to Ephraim and to the other, Gad, I took comfort, “ah, yes, I too can be a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde all within the same day! He’s just as wishy-washy as I am.”But upon closer examination, I don’t think Succoth is the victim here. I don’t think my first take of the story, of feeling sorry for the men of Gad and thinking poorly of Gideon’s “mean” answer, is the proper perspective to take.I think Gideon had discernment to address each of these situations exactly the way they needed to be.Remember what the events are, the Succothites refused to give Gideon’s battling men the food they needed because they had not yet actually conquered the Midianite kings yet. Perhaps they were afraid that Gideon would fail to capture and subdue the fleeing kings and that later the Midianites would return and punish them for aiding Gideon.Whatever the reason, these events illustrate the tragic fragmentation of Israel during the time of the Judges. Since the Midianites lived in the deserts of Arabia, Gad and the other tribes east of the Jordan were most vulnerable to their marauding raids. Yet instead of joining Gideon in his attempt to eliminate the threat once and for all, these Gadites flatly refused to get involved. Too risky!So perhaps the harsh discipline was justified because in their refusal to help Gideon’s army, Succoth and Penuel threatened the whole nation of Israel. Their act was thus equivalent to high treason.I’m just wondering out loud to myself, is my inclination to think bad of confrontation or strong responses, how it really should be assessed? This guy Gideon has back-bone, and I sure could use some of it!

Lord Jesus, help me to respond with a gentle answer even if means I have to take the low position. But just as much, help me to have the backbone to stand firm on those immovable things. Oh Lord, grant me the wisdom to know the difference. And help me to be a risk-taker in You.  


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Trinka on January 17, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    It’s such a hard balance to strike. It seems we’re all prone to one extreme or the other.

    Standing strong for Him is different than chewing out the pizza-delivery man, but somehow it FEELS the same when we’re thinking of doing it!


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