The eighth chapter of Judges is a very complex story. It is a continuation of chapter 7 in which Gideon won the battle against the enemies, but two kings escaped. Gideon pursued after them with his 300 and they found no support for physical subsidence from two separate groups of people, namely those in Succoth and Penuel. All Gideon asked was for his people to be fed.
He left those two groups behind with threats that he would return. However, he must first conquer the kings of his enemies which he did eventually. A young man was asked to kill the two kings, but because he was so young, he was afraid. Gideon found that he had to complete the task himself.
He returned to the two groups who refused to give him aid. Those peoples did not realize that this was not only Gideon’s battle, it was also God’s battle. Therefore, by refusing Gideon they were refusing God. Therefore, it became of necessity that he overrode their negative influence in the land.
When Gideon returned to his homeland of Israel, the people wanted to make him king and they wanted his descendants to also be royalty over them. He refused and reminded them that God was to rule over them. Instead, he asked that gold be given to him and he took that back to his home city. Verse 27 explains an awkward situation to say the least. Because what he made from gold became a snare to the people and Gideon since the Israelites wanted to worship it.
This also is a chapter recording the death of Gideon at an old age. Unfortunately, as soon as he died Israel turned again to worship a false god. Not only did they worship a false god, but they did not remember the courage of Gideon and they did not show any kindness toward his descendants.
Our lesson for this chapter can be summarized to say that we must stand strong with the Lord regardless of what happens or what people may interfere in our lives. It is naïve of us to think that people will be supportive of us and our future efforts. If it happens, wonderful. We must always remember that any victory in our personal lives or otherwise is that it is God’s not man’s plan. It’s interesting that Revelation 20:4,6 reminds us that the righteous will someday be judges.
In verse 22 of this chapter we learn that victory is sweet, but within it are temptations. And verse 27 complements the thought by saying that blessings can go very wrong. Furthermore, verse 33 declares that we cannot make people like us. In verse 35 it says not to expect kindness from anyone. We are about God’s work and battle in his behalf. This world cares little of our spiritual or literal conquests as long as the world gets what it wants. We are not serving the world, we are serving God and not providing what the world wants. We are back to her original theme. We must stand strong with the Lord.