In this graphic retelling of the battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC 300 Spartans fight off 100,000 Persians in a film which raises the tough question, are there things worth dying for? These Spartans are no wimps, in fact they practically make war in their pants they are so brave.
Another 300 come to mind. Gideon’s ragtag army who take on the might of 130,000 Midianites in Judges 7. This other tale of David v Goliath is a little different. Little Gideon starts out with 32,000 men, still not great odds against 130,000 (approx 4 to 1) but a whole lot better than 450 to 1! However this vastly reduced army engages Gideon in a battle fought by God rather than the 300. Emboldened by overhearing one of the enemy recounting a dream of Gideon’s predicted success, the little guy leads his army with little more than a few tea lights in jam jars, and the mad Midianites happily wipe each other out.
Jump a chapter to Judges 8 and we find a different Gideon. A winner who has everything we might want, wealth, power, status and sex. But there is little mention of God in his life. In Judges 7 Gideon is small and weak but he is not a failure. Pius he has an extraordinary relationship with God, something that seems to be missing in Judges 8. Bolstered by success he has become overly independent. He then gets an ephod made, a symbol of communication with God, perhaps in memory of the fact that he used to have that.
If I’m honest I have some Judges 7 days and some Judges 8 days, and sadly I often aspire to Judges 8, to be self-reliant and ‘secure’. To have easy access to everything I want and need. But I get a hunch that God much prefers it when I’m well aware of my ongoing need of him. Weakness is not failure. No doubt Gideon felt fearful and vulnerable in his early days but it led him to look up.