Not My Own Hand

  The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’” (Judges 7:2).          

          The Lord then had Gideon’s resources of 32,000 people greatly diminished. First 22,000 of the “fearful and trembling” people went home at the prospect of war. Then another 9,700 were sent home, leaving Gideon with 300 men to take on “…the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the people of the East (who) lay along the valley like locusts in abundance, and their camels were without number” (Judges 7:12). The Lord was with Gideon as the enemy was defeated. Their victory was surely not by their own hand.

          Gideon had not rushed into this situation. He had been led by the Lord through events in his life. Gideon set a fleece of wool out twice with stipulations concerning water in the fleece or not. This took patience; this took time; and this took trust in God. The Lord revealed His will for Gideon to move forward with the huge task of war. That is when the Lord reduced Gideon’s resources from 32,000 to 300 men. Gideon and his people were not going to trust in themselves, their abilities, nor their accomplishments. God would have detested them if they said, “My own hand has saved me.”

          The Lord reminds us many times not to boast in ourselves. The Lord confused the people’s language as the boastfully proclaimed, “Come; let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves…” (Genesis 11:4). We are taught proper ways of approaching challenges with David as he stood up to Goliath. David proclaimed, “You come to me with sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…” (1 Samuel 17:45).

          These examples are to be applied for challenges in our lives as well as with the impossible challenge of earning salvation. We are plainly taught in the Word, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b). From the Gospels we learn “…to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Born as believing children of God is God’s work. Therefore all Christianity shall join in the Common Doxology, “Praise God from Whom all blessing flow; Praise Him, all creatures here below; Praise Him above, ye heavenly host: Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.”

          Christian teachings continually pursue making it clear that we shall not say, “My own hand has saved me.” Gideon was depleted beyond military standards, yet succeeded by God’s deliverance as he used trumpets and jars with torches—visible tools in his life.  David was depleted of armor anhe took up five smooth stones and a sling—visible tools in his life. You and I are given “a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17). The Lord lifts us up to salvation as we hold on to His Word including His visible tools applied specifically to us in the life giving water of Baptism and bread and wine which are His body and blood in His Supper. 

The Lord be with you,  

Pastor Wiseman