Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.CHAPTER 8 Internal Strife, Gideon’s Failure and End
1. The strife (Judges 8:1-9)
2. The complete deliverance (Judges 8:10-21)
3. Gideon’s failure and end (Judges 8:22-32)
4. Israel’s failure after Gideon (Judges 8:33-35)
Internal strife follows. The two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb, were slain (Judges 7:25). Oreb means “raven” and Zeeb means “wolf.” Oreb, the raven, is slain on the rock and Zeeb, the wolf, at the winepress. The raven, the bird which represents darkness and evil, is the type of corruption; the wolf is the destroyer of the sheep. The rock and the winepress typify the Lord Jesus Christ and His Cross. There the victory over both was won.
The internal strife was born in selfishness. Ephraim chided him sharply, because he had not called them to the fight. Gideon’s wise and gracious answer averted the threatening dissension. How beautifully it illustrates Philippians 2:1-5. All church strifes begin with self-seeking vain-glory. The remedy is “in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than themselves.”
A greater victory follows after the internal strive had been overcome. The men of Succoth and of Peniel, Israelites, mocked Gideon and refused him help. They were really secret allies of Midian. After the victory these mocking, half-hearted Israelites were whipped by Gideon with the briers and thorns of the wilderness to teach them the needed lesson. How often we also in half-heartedness, world-bordering and being occupied too much with earthly things, need the thorns and briers, anxieties, disappointments and sufferings to bring us into line.
When they wanted to make Gideon king he refused. But while he refused that honor he tries to grasp another, the priesthood. He gathers the gold to make a priestly ephod and put it in Ophrah. It became a snare for all Israel as well as for Gideon, for they went “a whoring after it.” The gold was taken from the enemy. It was a self-glorification of the victor Gideon. He and all Israel forgot that the glory belonged to Jehovah. Gideon claimed an honor which did not belong to him. Even so it has been done on Christian ground. A false priesthood with man in place of the Lord and His work, the instruments used in the power of the Spirit of God exalted instead of Him who furnished the instrument, these are the lessons which may be traced here in Gideon’s sad failure. How many a servant of Christ, forgetting 1Corinthians 4:7 : “And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” has fallen into the same snare, and as a result lost his power and blessing! The many wives of Gideon and the concubine of Shechem tell the other side. Amalek (the flesh) spoiled him. Like priest, like people. Israel went whoring after Baal and forgot once more Jehovah.