“Unit 16: Day 2, Judges 6–9,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 16: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
Israel enjoyed a period of relative peace for 40 years, but the younger generation that was born into this peace and prosperity trusted in their own strength and wisdom and did not rely on the Lord. Thus, the people 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.
Have you ever tried to lift an object that was too heavy or too awkwardly shaped to lift by yourself, and then someone came and helped you lift it? What was the difference between trying to do this alone and having help?
Ponder for a moment a trial or challenge you are currently facing.
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. In the book of Judges, a man named Gideon helped Israel gain the Lord’s help and overcome seemingly impossible adversity. As you study Gideon’s life, look for principles that show you how to gain the Lord’s help when you face your own challenges.
Read Judges 6:1, looking for what the Israelites did that caused them to lose the Lord’s blessings. Recall that in Judges 1–5 the “evil” the Israelites did was worshipping the false gods of the other inhabitants in the promised land. Because of this, Israel lost the Lord’s protection.
Read Judges 6:2–6, looking for what the Midianites did to oppress the children of Israel. You may want to mark what the children of Israel did when they were being oppressed.
Read Judges 6:7–10, looking for how the Lord responded to the Israelites’ cries.
- In your scripture study journal, summarize the message the prophet gave to Israel. Then answer the following question: What do you think Israel needed to do to receive the Lord’s protection again?
One truth we can learn from this account is that the Lord can answer our prayers through the words of the prophets. You may want to write this truth in your scriptures next to Judges 6:7–8.
Can you think of a time when you received an answer to your prayers through the words of a prophet?
In Judges 6:11–13 we learn that in addition to sending a prophet to the children of Israel, the Lord also called a judge who was a “mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12; valor means courage or bravery) as the military leader to deliver them from the Midianites. Read Judges 6:14–16, looking for how Gideon responded to his call to serve. You may want to mark his response in your scriptures.
Notice what the Lord said in verse 16 that might have comforted Gideon.
In Judges 6:17–24 the Lord showed Gideon a sign to assure him that this call came from God. There is a difference between seeking a sign from God before we will believe and have faith and seeking a confirmation with a sincere heart, real intent, and faith (see Moroni 10:4). The motive for seeking a sign or confirmation from God is important (see D&C 63:7–9). “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. … 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”; lds.org/topics). Gideon righteously sought in faith for a sign, or confirmation.
Notice that the altar Gideon was commanded to destroy belonged to his father. Think about how difficult this command would have been if you had been in Gideon’s position.
Why was it important to destroy the altar of the false god Baal before overcoming the physical oppression of the Midianties? What can we learn from the Lord’s instructions to Gideon about our efforts to receive help and strength from the Lord?
From Judges 6:25–26 we can learn the following principle: If we desire to have the Lord’s help and strength, we must remove spiritually unclean and evil practices from our lives.
As shown in Judges 6:27–40, 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.
Imagine that you, like Gideon, have been commanded to conquer and drive out the Midianites’ army. Read Judges 7:12, looking for the size of the army. How many soldiers would you want to take with you into battle against such a vast army?
Read Judges 7:1–2, looking for what the Lord said about the size of Gideon’s army. 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?
In verse 2, mark why the Lord wanted to reduce the size of Gideon’s army. (To vaunt means to boast or praise.) How does thinking too much about our own strength and efforts prevent us from recognizing that our blessings and strength come from the Lord?
Read Judges 7:3, looking for what the Lord said Gideon needed to do to reduce the size of his army.
How many were in Gideon’s army originally?
How many remained after Gideon told those who were afraid to leave?
Scan Judges 7:4, looking for how the Lord felt about the reduced size of Gideon’s army.
Read Judges 7:4–8, looking for what the Lord instructed Gideon to do to further reduce the size of the army.
How many soldiers put their hands to their mouths to drink?
If you had been in Gideon’s position, what might you have thought about the Lord’s reducing your army from 32,000 men to 300?
Judges 7:9–14 relates that Gideon went to where the Midianites’ army was camped. While Gideon was near their camp, he overheard a man share a dream related to the destruction of the Midianites’ army. This dream gave Gideon courage.
Imagine you were given a trumpet, a pitcher, and a lamp and asked to use them as weapons in battle. How would you use them to fight? How effective do you think these items would be in battle?
Read Judges 7:15–18, looking for Gideon’s instructions to his army.
Read Judges 7:19–23, looking for what happened next.
Gideon’s small force succeeded because they were exactly obedient; every man did as he was instructed (see Judges 7:21). 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.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: Why was Gideon’s army of 300 able to defeat the Midianites’ innumerable army?
- Consider the following principle that we can learn from this account: If we follow the Lord’s commands with exactness and always acknowledge our dependence on Him, then He will help us overcome our challenges. In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you were able to overcome challenges with the Lord’s help because you followed His counsel, or write about a time when you witnessed the truth of this principle in someone else’s life.
In Judges 8:1–31 we learn 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.
Read Judges 8:33–35, looking for what Israel did after Gideon’s death. What do you think these verses teach us about the spiritual condition of the children of Israel at this time?
In Judges 9:1–57 we learn that Gideon’s son Abimelech wanted to be king, so he killed 70 of his brothers and was made king. He was eventually killed by the Shechemites, one of Israel’s enemies.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Judges 6–9 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: