Judges 8:5-7 (ESV) So
he said to the men of Succoth, "Please give loaves of bread to the people
who follow me, for they are exhausted, and I am pursuing after Zebah and
Zalmunna, the kings of Midian." 
And the officials of Succoth said, "Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna
already in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?"  So Gideon said, "Well then, when the
Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will flail your flesh with
the thorns of the wilderness and with briers."
Judges 8:15-17 (ESV) And
he came to the men of Succoth and said, "Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, about
whom you taunted me, saying, ‘Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna already in
your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are exhausted?’ "  And he took the elders of the city, and
he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of
Succoth a lesson.  And he broke down
the tower of Penuel and killed the men of the city.
I was struck this week with this story of Gideon as He
pursued his enemies, Zebah and Zalmunna. In his pursuit of them, he stops for rest and
some hopeful refreshments from his countrymen, kinsmen, and brothers, the men
of Succoth. These were brothers from the
tribe of Gad. The response of the men
went something like, “have you succeeded yet in capturing these guys? If not we see no reason to “reward” you.”
Gideon does not need flattery or well-wishes, he does not need their “seal
of approval” or receive what constitutes a reward in their eyes. He needs food, he needs help, he needs
support to aide in doing the work God has called him to, and who better to provide it than their countrymen, their brothers,
their kin? Tragically he gets no help whatsoever than perhaps a obligatory "good luck" or "Shalom", and before he sets off in pursuit of his enemies, pronounces a promise of judgment upon his brothers when he comes back through town. He will rip their flesh with the thorns or the
briars of the wilderness. Strong
words. But not just words, as he
actually follows through after God gives his enemies into his hands. I find it interesting, even comical that the
text (KJV) says that Gideon “taught” them through this execution of punishment.
I wonder how much judgment we reap when we sow seeds of
ignoring the needs of others, especially when it is in our power to help them. Especially when it other brothers and sisters
who are the ones who need help, sustenance and aid, and we make no effort to
provide it. Consider:
Proverbs 3:27(ESV) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your
to do it.
James 2:15-17 (ESV) If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and
lacking in daily food,  and one of
you says to them, "Go in peace,
be warmed and filled," without giving
them the things needed for the body, what good is that?  So also faith by itself, if it does not
have works, is dead.
And I wonder how my response to brothers and sisters, whether
individual or corporate bodies should be informed by Gideon’s actions. Or David’s response to Nabal save the intervention of Abigail? Should I be moved to this type of action? Is that a NT response? Is it a consistent Biblical response? Is this type of offense consonant with removing my blessing of God’s
peace towards "kin" and shaking the dust off my feet as in Matt 10:5-15? I’m not sure, but these passages, the
implications and potential applications they raise are very thought provoking.
Any thoughts anyone?