And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite…
Gideon was a great and gifted man who distrusted his own powers, and was in danger of failing to follow his true vocation through modest diffidence. When the angel accosted him as a "mighty man of valour," the expression overwhelmed him with astonishment. It came upon him as a new revelation. While there are conceited persons who value themselves too highly, and are over-ready to undertake rash enterprises for which they are quite incompetent, there are also good and able men like Gideon who are not aware of their own powers, and are in danger of neglecting the high trusts God has committed to them from self-distrust and modesty.
I. THE GROUNDS OF DIFFIDENCE.
1. Adversity. Gideon could not believe in the presence of God and the possibility of relief for his country, because the troubles of the time seemed to preclude all hope. We are tempted to distrust while the prospect is dark. Yet God is often nearest to us when the distress is deepest.
2. The absence of any sign of God's presence. Gideon saw no miracle, and he could not discern the presence of God in less striking events. As sensationalism in religion is a dissipation which unfits the soul for quiet, natural modes of worship, so the habit of depending on marvels and prodigies for faith in Divine truth weakens the sense of the Divine in the calm and orderly movements of nature and providence.
3. Lowly circumstances. Gideon considered himself the least important member of a poor and obscure family (ver. 15). Possibly he was despised in the household for his retiring habits. Men are often taken at their own estimate of themselves until their true character is put to the test. A man's own relatives are sometimes the last to recognise his merits. We are all more or less influenced by surrounding circumstances, and given too much to judge by appearances.
II. THE MEANS FOR OVERCOMING DIFFIDENCE.
1. God knows his servants true nature and powers. He takes no note of outward appearances. Rank, riches or poverty, family honour, count for little with him. He seeks out the right man wherever he is to be found - at the threshing-floor, by the sheep-fold, in the fishing-boat. God never calls any man to any task for which the man does not possess the requisite talents.
2. God is with his servants when they are obeying his voice. He never calls a man to a special task without giving him special grace to perform it. If he commands his servant to undertake a difficult mission, he is certain to go with him and stand by him in the time of need. Diffidence comes from regarding self; true confidence from looking away to God. So Moses was diffident as he thought of his own weakness, but made brave to face Pharaoh by the assurance of God's presence (Exodus 3:11, 12); and Paul dared to stand alone before Caesar with confidence because "the Lord stood with" him (2 Timothy 4:17).
3. God sometimes uses special means to confirm the. faith of his servants. Gideon asked for a sign, and it was given him. To some no sign can be granted (Matthew 12:39). If no special signs are granted us now, we should remember
(1) we are not called to Gideon's work, and
(2) we are not left in the religious obscurity of Gideon's age, but have the revelation of God in Christ, the greatest of "signs." - A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.
WEB: The angel of Yahweh came, and sat under the oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained to Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites.