Of the fifteen total judges, only one did what we would call “judge,” and that was Deborah. The Judges were mainly leaders whose task it was to rescue Israel from oppression.
Gideon is the fifth judge, and his story focuses on what can be accomplished if you will just trust God. Like most of us, however, Gideon found trust difficult.
Gideon’s life experiences simply had not led him to believe God was with Israel – and often, that’s the case with us. We live in the moment, forgetting that our circumstances can come about because of sin, the sins of others, or just plain old misfortune. Three times, Gideon asks for proof of God’s presence – and three times, God gives it. Still, Gideon lacked faith. God knew it and on His own initiative, gave him a fourth sign.
In our relationship with God, it is important not to forget that the trial of our circumstances is sometimes our own fault. That was surely the case with Gideon and the rest of Israel. If that’s true, it is important to admit our fault and ask God’s forgiveness. Second, God seldom simply steps in to solve our problems. More often, he empowers us to solve them ourselves – and that’s often what our prayer needs to be: for the strength to do the right thing, and do it successfully in God’s sight. But note this: we must be determined to do the “right” thing. No one should expect God to empower us to succeed in doing the wrong thing.