A selection of verses showing some significant events in Gideon's life.
Gideon was a judge or ruler of Israel, under God, after the time of Joshua. He lived about 1200 BC.
It was a time when Israel’s fortunes were at a low point:
1 The children of Israel did that which was evil in the LORD’s sight, so the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2 The hand of Midian prevailed against Israel; and because of Midian the children of Israel made themselves the dens which are in the mountains, the caves, and the strongholds.
Gideon was chosen by God despite his low status and his lack of confidence:
15 He said to him, “O Lord, how shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”
16 The LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
Gideon, encouraged by God, destroyed an altar to the heathen god Baal at night :
28 When the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah was cut down that was by it, and the second bull was offered on the altar that was built. 29 They said to one another, “Who has done this thing?”
When they enquired and asked, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
He was then tasked with taking on the mighty army of the Midianites. God wanted to show that he, not the Israelites, would give the victory. First of all he drastically reduced the size of the Israelite army:
2 The LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel brag against me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead.’ ” So twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.
6 The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water. 7 The LORD said to Gideon, “I will save you by the three hundred men who lapped, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, each to his own place.”
This was followed by very unorthodox battle tactics:
20 The three companies blew the trumpets, broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they shouted, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” 21 They each stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight.
After Gideon had defeated the Midianites, the Israelites had a period of peace:
28 So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.