God Over Fear
“That same night the LORD said to him, ‘Arise, go down against the camp, for I have given it into your hand. But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp’” (Judges 7:9-11a).
Gideon was in many ways an unlikely choice for a judge of Israel. He was fearful and had an excuse for everything. When God called him to lead Israel against the Midianites, he first insisted he was too lowly. When that didn’t work, he put God to the infamous wet-or-dry-fleece test. Even after he was convinced God had called him, he still feared his enemies. Yet this was the man God had selected to drive out the Midianites. He knew Gideon’s fears, but that didn’t stop Him from using him.
The story of Gideon’s triumph over his enemies with nothing but trumpets and torches is a childhood favorite for many. But Gideon was certainly not the brave warrior he’s often made out to be. Immediately prior to the battle, God had told him to go down to the Midianite camp to hear something that would give him courage. It was a stealth mission; the chances of getting caught were quite low. Yet Gideon was too afraid to do even this by himself. He brought his servant Purah with him for moral support.
The interesting thing about this anecdote, though, is not that Gideon was too afraid to go to the camp alone: it’s that God instructed him to bring his servant. He Who knows the hearts of all knew that Gideon was afraid. Never once did He chide him for it; instead, He understood his weaknesses and gave him the means to overcome his fears. Purah was so important to Gideon that his name is mentioned twice in the Bible. Most servants are just “the servant”. Purah, however, was a vital part of Gideon’s story. Without him, Gideon might not have had the courage to lead his 300 men against Midian. And God, knowing this, told him to take Purah with him.
We’re all afraid of something. Whether that’s other people, ridicule, failure, or anything else, there’s some central fear that likes to keep us from obedience. We may not like it, but our fears still cripple us. It may become so bad that we fear God will never be able to use us. But the Bible says otherwise. Gideon is just one man in a long line of people who were afraid of what God called them to do and then were part of something incredible. And one common factor for many of them is that they had somebody else alongside them, supporting them and giving them courage.
God is not crippled by our fears. He can work through them to get even more glory for Himself. He understands our weaknesses and doesn’t despise us for them. Instead, He helps us through them. He raises up Purahs who will stand beside us and give us strength simply by being there. God is not afraid of our fears. Instead, in His grace He gives us everything we need to overcome them.