Judges 7:19-20 “So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon.
My parents needed some rock put on their driveway. So they bought a dump truck load and had it dumped near the end of the drive. I’ve spent the last few days shoveling rock into a small dump wagon, placing it where I wanted it, then using a garden rake to level it out. My Dad has a tractor with a box blade which I could use to push the rock around. And several folks have suggested I do just that. They say it would be much easier, and that I’m killing myself doing all that extra work. I should be working smarter, not harder.
Normally I would agree with them. It’s always better to work smarter than harder, and the tractor could move the rock without much effort at all. The problem is, with what the driveway needs and what I want to accomplish, using the tractor would be like using a sledge hammer to swat a fly. Not enough finesse. The rock needs to be placed in specific spots and at a consistent depth. Would be nice to have a tractor with a front bucket loader, but since I don’t have that, the shovel and dump wagon will have to do. And it is working. Yes, it’s been hot, difficult work, and it’s taking a long time, but the driveway looks nice, and after it rains to settle everything and the rock is pressed down, we should have a nice surface to drive on that won’t turn into a muddy swamp every time it rains. The harder way has actually been the better way.
Gideon ran into a similar issue. God had asked him to fight the Midianites. Conventional wisdom told him to gather as large an army as he could, complete with swords and shields and whatever other weapons they could bring to bear. But God had other plans. He shrank Gideon’s army down to three hundred men and armed them with torches, pitchers, and trumpets. That made no sense at all. Fortunately for Gideon, he chose to follow God’s leading and not what conventional wisdom told him, and it worked exactly the way God said.
God had his reasons for doing things the way He did. He knew the people would think they had won the battle all on their own by their own strength if they did it with an overwhelming force. He needed them to see that God Himself was their protector and strength and that they should always place their trust in Him. That’s what He tells us as well.
Proverbs 3:5 instructs us to trust in Him with all our hearts and to not lean on our own understanding. Does that mean we don’t use the resources God has given us? Of course not. Gideon still had three hundred men with their torches, pitchers, and trumpets. When the time was right, they broke the pitchers, held up the torches, and blew the trumpets, and the enemy was routed. We all have our part to play, but the action is the Lord’s. We follow His lead even when it doesn’t make sense to us.
And when you think about it, since He is the only one who can actually see all of the problem from every angle, His way will always be the better way.