And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.
I. FAINTNESS COMES TO THE BODY BY LONG TRAVEL. Every step we take is waste. It is so with the soul. There is a mysterious spending of its substance and vitality, day by day, in thought, emotion, will, effort. A Christian soul spends more than another because it has more to spend. It has higher thoughts, and more passionate emotions, and nobler efforts, and more fervent willing. And if, through long travel, the waste is more than the recruiting, then comes faintness.
II. FAINTNESS COMES TO THE BODY BY RAPID MOVEMENT. A man shall walk leisurely over some miles of road or up the slope of a mountain and be quite cool and comparatively fresh, while a racer shall bound away over the same distance, and at the end be panting with exhaustion. It is so in this respect also with the soul. If a man will contend with all his spiritual energy — with aspiring affections, and in the full fervours of a living will, against God's kingdom of heaven, against moral perfection; if he will match himself for that attainment, run in that race, climb that awful steep, he need not be surprised if now and again he is fain to pause and cry with one who ran eagerly long ago, "I have seen an end of all perfection, but Thy commandment is exceeding broad." All earnest natures tend to go by rapid movements, and are in consequence subject to sudden exhaustion. The fainting is the natural fruit of the effort. Intellectual difficulties will not melt away. Moral mysteries will not disappear. The law of sin in the members will not die. The law of the spirit of life will not grow so fast, will not bloom so fair, as was hoped; and the panting, eager spirit, after many ineffectual endeavours, is sometimes almost benighted with the gloom of such disappointments, and sinks down fainting, almost ceasing to pursue. There is nothing very alarming in this weariness. It will soon pass away. You have not lost your ideal, nor your love for it, nor your purpose to realise it, nor that Divine hope which kindles itself always by the side of a holy purpose, nor that prophetic faith which counts the thing that is not yet as though it were. And if you have lost none of these things, you have lost no real strength. It will recover and revive ere long, and bear you on again to moral victory.
III. FAINTNESS COMES TO THE BODY BY THE DIFFICULTY OF THE GROUND THAT HAS BEEN TRODDEN, OR OF THE WORK THAT HAS BEEN DONE. A mile through tangled thickets or thorny brakes, over rough rocks or in sinking sand, may be more exhausting than seven or ten over the smooth greensward or along the level way. Some Christians go to heaven by the way of the plain and some by the mountain roads. Who can tell why one is sent by the mountain and another by the plain? why one smiles and sings all the way while another smiles and weeps?
IV. FAINTNESS COMES TO THE BODY THROUGH LACK OF SUSTENANCE. The soul, like the body, will faint if it is famished.
V. FAINTNESS MAY COME TO THE BODY BY SICKNESS, BY DISEASE. If there be an overtasking of the physical energies, or an exposure to malign influences, weakness will certainly creep in. If a man works in an unwholesome place, if he breathes in tainted, poisoned air, the whole head will soon be sick, the whole heart faint. It is even so with the soul. It sickens and grows faint when in any way, in any place, it inhales the poison of sin.
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.