A Downward Spiral

Jeff Munroe

READ : Judges 8:4-28

It became a snare to Gideon. (v. 27)

The pattern of Judges is disobedience, followed by punishment, followed by a cry for mercy, followed by deliverance through a judge, followed by peace, followed by the pattern starting all over again. But another pattern is made clear beginning when Gideon crossed the Jordan in verse 4: Israel wasn’t simply going around in circles; they actually were in a downward spiral.

The story of Gideon starts with humility and obedience and ends with unnecessary violence and idolatry. In chapters 6 and 7 Gideon is called by God and then wins an amazing victory over a much stronger foe. (There are many parallels to the stories of Moses found in Exodus.) But in our text today Gideon is more like Aaron, taking gold from those he conquered and shaping an idol from it. To his credit, he refused to accept the people’s desire to make him king, but, as we shall see, one of his sons does assert his right to rule Israel.

Gideon is an illustration of being spoiled by success. Once humble and dependent on God (see for example 6:15), he goes across Jordan without Yahweh and leaves behind a trail of vindictiveness and idol worship. Many of us have a positive image of Gideon (perhaps because of the prolific free Bible distribution by the Gideons International). The man himself was deeply flawed, and his story begins a sad run of judges that fills the rest of this book.


Lord, we too are aware of our flawed natures. Have mercy on us.