Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Gideon's minority army. Image from JW.ORG
And the Lord said unto Gideon, 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. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. / And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.
— Judges 7:2-3,7
God reduces the fighting force of the reluctant leader Gideon from 32,000 men to 10,000, and then further reduces it to a mere 300, and this for the purpose of showing Israel that it is God, not man that wins battles and alters history. Without a single blow the 300 men defeat the Midianites by stealth and cunning, causing them to destroy themselves in blind panic. It's a stirring story, showing us that sometimes it is the quiet voice that is the voice of reason and justice, and sheer numbers and volume does not make for righteousness. This of course is in direct opposition to what the west today thinks of as democracy: loudest voice wins. God's way is different.
Just as in the story of Elijah, the prophet finds God in the still, small voice,1 so here God is found in the minority. God was not in the Israelite majority, who were either fearful (the former 22,000) or uncouth (the latter 9,700), and clearly not in the vast Midianite army whose hoards had been stripping the Israelite lands for seven years, pushing the people to the point of starvation.
In today's world there is little space for us to listen for the voice of God, so taken up are we with loud opinion, echoing in the chambers of social media, vast gangs of the self-righteous 'canceling' the minority voice, unwilling to listen to difference, drowning out the possible, small God-voice that may (and usually does) emerge from the oppressed, the downtrodden, the silenced, and rarely from kings, rulers and the loud voice of power. Poor us, worshipping as we do at the alters of Finance, Business, Self-interest and Science (with a capital S), drawn by promises of health through drugs, wealth through gambling and wisdom through majority opinion, we've collectively lost sight of the still, small voice, the conscience of humanity. The story of Gideon reminds us of that loss—but it also reminds us we can find it again, should we care to.
1 1 Kings 19:12