The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, “My own hand has saved me.” Judges 7:2.
Gideon’s courage was greatly strengthened by the tokens of divine favor vouchsafed to him. Without delay he went out with his forces to give battle to the Midianites. But now another severe trial of faith awaited him. With the immense host of invaders spread out before him—the thirty-two thousand of the Hebrews seeming, in contrast, like a mere handful—the word of the Lord came to him, “The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead.” …
Because of the weak condition of the armies of Israel in contrast with the numbers of the enemy, Gideon had refrained from making the usual proclamation. He was filled with astonishment at the declaration that his force was too large. But the Lord saw the pride and unbelief existing in the hearts of this people. Aroused by the stirring appeals of Gideon, they had readily enlisted; but when they saw the multitudes of the Midianites, their courage failed….
Instead of being too many, the Israelites felt that their numbers were too few; but Gideon made the proclamation as the Lord had directed. With sinking heart he saw … more than two thirds of his entire force, depart….
Again the word of the Lord came to His servant, “The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.” …
A few hastily took a little water in the hand and sucked it up as they went on, but nearly all bowed upon their knees and leisurely drank from the surface of the water. Those who took of the water in their hands were but three hundred out of the ten thousand; yet these were selected, and the great body of the army were permitted to return to their homes.
Here we see the simple means by which character is often tested…. The men of God’s choice were the few who would not permit their own wants to hinder them in the discharge of duty.—Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881.