Two men, total opposites. In a time when leadership was lacking and faithfulness was fading, judges were called upon to lead military campaigns as repentant Israelites renewed their loyalty to the one true God. The men that arose to such challenges were individually distinct and colorful.
Gideon was frustrated with the persecution of Israel by the Midianites (Judges 6:4-5). While the majority feared to stand with God against the ungodly, Gideon’s faith, bolstered by assurances from God, led him to complete, unreserved obedience. Through a process of elimination, a small band of trumpet-blowing, pitcher-toting loyalists encircled Midian’s military machine and, with the flash of unveiled torches and the shout “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon,” the picture of prevailing people of God was painted in the annuls of history. The Midianites did not plague Israel again.
At the other end of the spectrum, Samson’s lack of faith and frequent disobedience garners him a special notoriety (no wonder Hollywood chooses to immortalize him on the silver screen). Full of self-interest and the stubbornness of a spoiled brat, he demanded to marry outside his station and against his parents’ wishes (Judges 14:4). When the nuptials went sour, his vendetta against the Philistines was relentless but always seemed to be directed by self-centeredness. His appetite for women finally brought him down. Sold out by Delilah, blind and humbled and standing between two pillars in Dagon’s Temple, he begged for one last shot at the Philistines… for his eyes!
God has providential ways of accomplishing his work, and His will shall be done regardless of the weaknesses of humanity. Are you self-seeking and egocentric, or faithful and obedient? Where will you stand as God’s will is done?