Stealing the Glory

Wendy Pope

Day: 32 | Plan: Joshua-Judges

Today’s Reading: Judges 8

Judges 8:4 (NIV) “Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it.”

We meet up with Gideon on the east bank of the Jordan River after he and his army defeated the Midianites and captured their commanders. Even though they experienced a significant victory, two kings of Midian had escaped. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, the war wasn’t over as Gideon and his men continued their pursuit.

This is one of those “me too” moments Scripture affords. We can fully engage with Gideon and his army because we get it. Life deals us a tough situation. We seek God. (Judges 6) We experience victory. (Judges 7) And we don’t even catch our breath before the next struggle is set before us.

As Gideon and his men chased the enemy, they came upon the people of Sukkoth and Peniel on the east side of the Jordan River. Instead of offering nourishment to the weary warriors, they taunted Gideon about not initially including them in the fight. This rejection of support enraged Gideon, and he threatened both cities with retribution after he completed his goal.

Pressing on, Gideon and his men finally caught up with the fleeing kings. They were able to secure another military triumph, capturing the kings and routing their entire army.

Gideon returned a victor, but it wasn’t enough. Perhaps Gideon was flush with success, perhaps he was still filled with battle rage, but instead of resting and seeking God’s will, Gideon continued to fight.

Without asking the Lord for direction, Gideon returned to Sukkoth. In a deliberate fashion he obtained the names of the leaders of the town, and those elders were publicly punished. In Peneil, Gideon destroyed a tower and killed all the men. 

Gideon continued his rampage by killing the two Midianite kings out of his own personal revenge rather than the Lord’s will. 

God had called Gideon to defeat the Midianites, and because of his victory the Israelites hailed Gideon as their king. We see a glimmer of hope as Gideon refused this place of honor; however, he took the plunder from the victory and fashioned an ephod. On the surface this doesn’t seem harmful, but an ephod was to only be worn by the high priest in the tabernacle. It was to be adorned with 12 stones, each representing a tribe of Judah. No other ephods were to be made. Rebelling against God, Gideon not only had another ephod made but also put it on display in the city. 

Gideon’s story comes to an anti-clamactic, yet chilling ending here in Judges 8. After Gideon made this ephod, Scripture records these sad words, “All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family” (Judges 8:27b).

Victory can fan the flames of pride and power. Fame can be dangerous. Gideon got caught up in the moment. His actions set the course for idolatry and cult-like activity for generations to follow. The hailed hero lost sight of the Holy One. Rather than illustrating Gideon’s faith and obedience, his story came to a quiet end. 

Gideon offers a lesson for all of us. Sometimes even doing the Lord’s will we can become enthralled with success and make self-focused decisions. Pride can sneak in, motivating us to step ahead of God. If we put self before submission, we risk stealing the glory from God. 

What a different ending Gideon and all of Israel might have had if Gideon had only waited before taking matters into his hands! If only he had watched where God was leading. This is a lesson I want to learn well.

Prayer: Lord, any success I have achieved or hope to achieve is from Your hands and by Your grace. Please forgive me for even momentarily stealing Your glory. I want to live to make You famous, more famous than you already are. I want to lift You high, higher than You are. In Jesus' name, amen.

More Moments:

Gideon the humble leader and hero of Judges 7 falls terribly in Judges 8. Pride truly comes... Read More

Download the First 5 app to get the full experience

Join the Community