Saturday, June 21, 2014


I've been reading the (Old Testament) story of Gideon (with the help of notes provided by the Bible Reading Fellowship). It's been a strange experience, because parts of the story are familiar (to anyone who has been to Sunday School, I guess). The business of Gideon setting off with an army, and then being told by God that he has too many soldiers, is quite fun, in a way. You can imagine Gideon's dismay, when he ends up with just 300 men (those who want to fight, and who use their hands when drinking water).

Of course, it's exciting, when they surprise the Midianites, with trumpets and torches. And you sort of get the point - that God (presumably) is making. The victory is his, not theirs.

But there are complexities. Gideon has an argument with the Ephraimites. Then, when the men of Sukkoth are too scared of the Midianites to feed him and his troops, he returns, and takes vengeance (according to the notes - we were spared the actual reading, at this point). And then Gideon makes a golden ephod - of which the writer of Judges clearly disapproves.

The Sunday School stories depict Gideon as a hero (an unlikely, hesitant hero, admittedly). But overall, the bible story has elements of tragedy. Gideon has his day of glory, and seems to try quite hard subsequently, but doesn't quite get it right, sadly. Should we make more of an effort, when teaching the children, to describe the whole person, warts and all?

Perhaps those of us who stumble through life, and get things wrong more often than we get them right, would be reassured. Gideon does get a mention in the famous chapter of Hebrews which lists people of faith, whom we should admire ...

1 comment:

I will be awesomely amazing said...

This is a really interesting post.

There are some benefits to telling kids the whole story warts and all. In my early teens I felt like all the bible heros where too perfect, and there was no point in even trying.

Maybe knowing the whole story would have been useful, but kids have short attention spans.So you could argue its more important to mention the major bits