And Gideon said to God, If you will save Israel by my hand, as you have said,…
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCE RECORDED IS HIGHLY HONOURABLE TO THE CHARACTER OF GIDEON. It shows that there was in him that caution and waiting, for the want of which how many a man has mistaken his mission, and instead of doing the work of the Lord, has made a wreck both of himself and his own work! "If Thou wilt save Israel by my hand." A full consciousness that Israel needs saving; but an indisposition to feel that such an honour could be conferred on him; such is a good index to the character of a man — a disposition to test ourselves. Am I fit? Am I capable? Can God use me? Am I he whom God will choose to do this work? Yes, I think we do well to apply tests to ourselves and to our position; to our religious life, and to our relation to God by our religious life. Do you not believe that there is an influence that covers a man with blessings? Do you not believe that there is a conduct which attracts to itself blessing? Hence the image is constantly occurring in Scripture between moisture and drought (Jeremiah 17:5-8; Psalm 1:3). "He shall be like a tree." There is the test — a tree, moistened by unseen springs, whose leaves are green even in the parched land and not inhabited. See David in the court of Saul. A dewy fleece in the midst of a land of drought. See Daniel at the courts of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. While all the uproar goes on, there the blasphemy, and the tokens of a coming doom; Daniel and his companions are in waiting on the Lord; without wine they are brave; their spirits are fresh, and they are ready for the service of God — a dewy fleece in a dry place. Who are the happy? I do not ask who are the successful, because I find often the happy are the unsuccessful. Setting all the world's calculations on one side, "Behold," says James, "we call them happy which endure." Whence, then, is the spring supplied which will never dry? The calm, the contented, and the hallowed blessedness of the holy heart. How often we find wealth is a dry fleece, while poverty is a dewy one! True, there is nothing in wealth to curse especially, but then there is nothing in wealth to bless especially; because of wealth, it is not that the dew refuses to fall, but the dew will not fall because wealth is there — only proving that wealth needs something more before it can be regarded as really a blessing; and poverty must be forgotten of God, and cut off from the dew before that state can be regarded as a curse.
II. Thus, then, WE JUSTIFY THE GIDEON TEST. Upon the heart and the home the dew will fall and remain. Thou askest, "Am I a child of God?" You shall know by the dew. "Have I religion?" You shall know by the dew. Walk forth in the morning — the sweet morning, when the bright drops sparkle on the hedgerows, and behold the twinkling thorn, the rose, the tree, the floor of grass, such shall be your words, and such your mind, your action — the dew shall be on your fleece!
III. I shall attempt to illustrate this a little further. For I say the world will insist on applying its test to us; THE WORLD WILL WATCH FOR THE DEW ON OUR FLEECE. When I was a boy it was my privilege to know a very holy man. He had been in the beginning of things a poor man; but how sacredly, how steadily, he served God! He worked in a shop where proverbially all were Sabbath-breakers. He would not break the Sabbath. The master could do as he liked with all his men — it was a kind of old-world tyranny. He would not break the Sabbath. He led a sweet, sacred, holy life. His master was a swearer in the midst of a gang of unholy men. His conversation became the gospel of Christ. By a steady course he was able to provide for his widowed mother; he was able to provide for his sister. And he died, but his work lasted; the dew has not all evaporated yet; the shop is in ruins; his master was long since a bankrupt, and his whole family is in ruins too. The name of the one man is fragrant, all else is gone — it was a dewy fleece in a land of drought. Thus gratitude in the heart, thus holiness in the life, are dew. You shall know them by the dew upon the fleece.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said,