Lesson 77: Judges 6–9

    “Lesson 77: Judges 6–9,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

    “Lesson 77,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

    Lesson 77

    Judges 6–9


    Israel enjoyed a period of relative peace for 40 years but eventually again did evil in the sight of the Lord. Because of the Israelites’ disobedience, the Lord allowed them to be oppressed by the Midianites. Through an angel, the Lord called upon Gideon to deliver Israel. Gideon and his army of 300 men defeated a vast army of Midianites.

    Suggestions for Teaching

    Judges 6:1–10

    Because of disobedience, the Israelites are oppressed by the Midianites

    Invite a student to perform a task that is difficult or impossible to do alone but that can be done easily with another person’s help. For example, invite the student to neatly fold a large blanket or sheet without allowing any of it to touch the floor. Once the student has attempted to complete the task alone, invite a second student to help.

    • What was the difference between trying to do this alone and having help?

    Ask students to silently ponder a trial or challenge they are facing. Point out that many challenges we face can be difficult or impossible to overcome by ourselves. However, the Lord is ready to help and strengthen us if we come to Him. Explain that in the book of Judges, a man named Gideon helped Israel gain the Lord’s help and overcome seemingly impossible adversity. Invite students to look for doctrines and principles demonstrated in Gideon’s life that show us how to gain the Lord’s help when we face our own challenges.

    Invite a student to read Judges 6:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Israelites did that caused them to lose the Lord’s blessings. (You may want to remind students that in Judges 1–5, the “evil” the Israelites did was worshipping the false gods of the other inhabitants in the promised land and marrying those who were not of the covenant.)

    • According to Judges 6:1, what blessing did Israel lose as a result of their evil choices? (They lost the Lord’s protection.)

    • Whom did the Lord allow to oppress the Israelites?

    Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Judges 6:2–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Midianites and others did to oppress the Israelites.

    • According to verse 4, what did the Midianites do? (They destroyed Israel’s crops.)

    • What did the Israelites do because of their oppression?

    Ask a few students to take turns reading aloud from Judges 6:7–10. Ask the class to follow along and look for how the Lord responded to the Israelites’ cries.

    • How did the Lord answer Israel’s cries? How was this prophet and his message found in verses 8–10 an answer to Israel’s prayers?

    • How could this message from the prophet help the children of Israel?

    • What can we learn from the Lord’s response to Israel’s prayers about one way He might answer our prayers? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: The Lord can answer our prayers through the words of the prophets.)

    Judges 6:11–24

    An angel of the Lord calls Gideon to deliver Israel

    Summarize Judges 6:11–13 by explaining that after sending a prophet to deliver a message to the children of Israel (see Judges 6:8–10), the Lord also called, by an angel, a judge named Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites. Invite a student to read Judges 6:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for how Gideon responded to his call to serve.

    • According to verse 15, what were Gideon’s concerns about his call to deliver Israel?

    • According to verse 16, what did the Lord say that might have comforted Gideon?

    Invite students to look for how the Lord fulfilled His promise to Gideon as they study the remainder of Judges 6–8.

    Summarize Judges 6:17–24 by explaining that the Lord showed Gideon a sign to assure him that this call came from God.

    Judges 6:25–40

    In obedience to the Lord, Gideon removes false idols and prepares for battle

    Ask a student to read Judges 6:25–26 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord told Gideon to do before he delivered Israel from the Midianites.

    • What did the Lord command Gideon to do? (Invite students to look at Judges 6:25, footnote b, to discover that the word grove refers to “a pole or tree representing a fertility goddess,” or an idol.)

    • Why do you think it was important for Gideon to destroy the altar of the false god Baal, which the Israelites had made, before he gathered an army to drive out the Midianites?

    • What principle can we learn from the Lord’s instruction to Gideon? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure it is clear that if we desire to have the Lord’s help and strength, we must remove spiritually unclean and evil practices from our lives.)

    Invite students to ponder what unclean practices or sins they might need to “throw down” (verse 25) so they can more fully qualify for the Lord’s help in the challenges they face.

    Summarize Judges 6:27–40 by explaining that Gideon did as he was commanded. The next day, the men of the city wanted to kill Gideon because he destroyed their false idols. Gideon’s father spoke in his defense, and the men of the city did not kill him. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon, and he gathered an army of Israelites together. The Lord then showed Gideon another sign to assure him that the Lord had chosen him to deliver Israel.

    Judges 7

    The Lord delivers the Midianites into the hands of the Israelites

    Ask the students to imagine that they, like Gideon, have been commanded to conquer and drive out the Midianite army. Invite students to look ahead at Judges 7:12 and find the size of the Midanite army.

    • Considering the size of the Midianite army, how many soldiers would you want to take with you?

    Invite a student to read Judges 7:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for what the Lord said about the size of Gideon’s army. Invite students to report what they find.

    • If you had been in Gideon’s position, what might you have thought when the Lord said you had too many soldiers in your army?

    • According to verse 2, why did the Lord want to reduce the size of Israel’s army? (You may need to explain that the word vaunt means to boast.)

    • How do you think vaunting (or boasting) of our own strength and efforts prevents us from recognizing the Lord’s hand in our lives?

    Invite a student to read Judges 7:3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said Gideon needed to do to reduce the size of the army. Invite a student to describe the Lord’s instructions in his or her own words.

    • How many were in the army originally? (32,000.) How many remained? (10,000.)

    Invite students to scan Judges 7:4 silently, looking for how the Lord felt about the reduced size of Gideon’s army. Ask students to report what they find.

    Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Judges 7:4–8. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord instructed Gideon to do to further reduce the size of the army.

    • How did Gideon learn who was to remain in the army?

    • How many soldiers put their hand to their mouth to drink? (300.)

    • If you had been in Gideon’s position, what might you think about the Lord reducing your army from 32,000 to 300?

    Summarize Judges 7:9–14 by explaining that Gideon went to where the Midianite army was camped. While Gideon was near their camp, he overheard a man share a dream related to the destruction of the Midianite army. This dream gave Gideon courage.

    Display the following items or show pictures of them: a trumpet, a lamp, and a pitcher. Ask a student to come to the front of the room and demonstrate how he or she thinks these items could be used to fight in a battle. Ask the student how effective he or she thinks these items would be in a battle against an opponent using swords and shields.

    trumpet, lamp, pitcher

    Invite a student to read Judges 7:15–18 aloud. Ask students to follow along and look for Gideon’s instructions to his army.

    • What instructions did Gideon give?

    Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Judges 7:19–23. Ask the class to follow along and look for what happened next. You may need to explain that the phrase “the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow” (verse 22) means that the Midianites began to attack each other in the chaos created by Gideon’s army.

    • What principle can we learn from this account about what happens when we faithfully follow the Lord’s commands? (Although they may use different words, students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we follow the Lord’s commands with exactness and always acknowledge our dependence on Him, then He will help us overcome our challenges.)

    To help students understand how this principle can relate to their lives, invite them to name a variety of sources through which the Lord’s commandments come to us, such as promptings from the Holy Ghost, scriptures, words of the prophets, and righteous counsel from parents and leaders.

    Ask students to ponder times when they overcame challenges with the Lord’s help because they followed His counsel. Invite a few students to share, if their experiences are not too personal. You may want to share a personal experience illustrating this principle as well.

    Judges 8

    Israel enjoys peace for many years but returns to idolatry after Gideon dies

    Summarize Judges 8:1–31 by explaining that after the Midianites fled, Gideon’s army pursued them and destroyed some of them. After the victory, the Israelites wanted Gideon to be their king, but he refused and said the Lord should be their king. For the space of about 40 years, there were no more major battles.

    Invite a student to read Judges 8:33–35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Israel did after Gideon’s death.

    • What can we learn about the spiritual condition of the children of Israel from Judges 8:33–35?

    Judges 9

    Gideon’s son Abimelech is made king and is slain by the Shechemites

    Summarize Judges 9 by explaining that Gideon’s son Abimelech wanted to rule Israel, so he killed 70 of his brothers and was made king. He was eventually killed by the Shechemites, one of Israel’s enemies.

    Conclude by sharing your testimony of the truths taught in this lesson. Invite students to write down how they will act on promptings they have received and truths they have learned.

    Commentary and Background Information

    Judges 7:19–25. God is the ultimate source of power

    President James E. Faust of the First Presidency likened Gideon’s experience to the challenges we face:

    “The Lord has a great work for each of us to do. You may wonder how this can be. You may feel that there is nothing special or superior about you or your ability. Perhaps you feel, or have been told, that you are stupid. Many of us have felt that and some of us have been told that. Gideon felt this when the Lord asked him to save Israel from the Midianites. Gideon said, ‘My family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.’ He had only three hundred men, but with the help of the Lord, Gideon defeated the armies of the Midianites.

    “The Lord can do remarkable miracles with a person of ordinary ability who is humble, faithful, and diligent in serving the Lord and seeks to improve himself. This is because God is the ultimate source of power” (“Acting for Ourselves and Not Being Acted Upon,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 47).

    Judges 6:14–16. “I will be with thee”

    President Thomas S. Monson taught:

    “When we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. Remember that whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” (“Duty Calls,” Ensign, May 1996, 44).

    Judges 6:11–24. Since the Lord condemns sign-seeking, how do we explain Gideon’s request?

    There is a difference between sincerely seeking confirmation from God with real intent and demanding a sign from God without faith. The motive of the person seeking the sign from God is important (see D&C 63:7–10). “Some people claim that they would believe in God or His work if they were able to receive a sign. But faith does not come by signs. … The Lord revealed, ‘Faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe’ (D&C 63:9). Such signs are given to those who are faithful and obedient to strengthen them in their faith and to help them carry out the will of God” (Gospel Topics, “Signs”; topics.lds.org). In Gideon’s case, he righteously sought for a sign in faith.