Gideon and Purah. Two unlikely heros. A pair that were on a fast-track for a hum drum existence. Gideon, the youngest son in the weakest clan and Purah, his servant. They weren’t the beacon of hope or the standard that everyone else was held up to. In fact, they were the complete opposite. Within their culture, they were both obscure and were of very little value. Nevertheless, both were instrumental to an underdog army and their victorious outcome.
In the story of Gideon (Judges 6-7), we find a young man who is the least of the least being commanded by the Lord to lead a fight against an army too numerous to count, with only 300 men.
Imagine someone with so little authority that when he decided to obey the first set of instructions from God (tearing down the altar to Baal and using it to build an altar to the Lord), he had to “recruit” a servant to help him. Not only that, he was so consumed with fear that he only obeyed under the cover of night!
The incredible thing is this, God knew Gideon’s circumstances. He knew his abilities (inabilities), resources, and more importantly, God knew Gideon’s heart. So, even though He asked Gideon to do unimaginable things, He gave him the tools that he (Gideon) needed.
As you read the story, you see that God didn’t tell him to tear down the altar in front of everyone. He simply instructed him to tear it down. God sees our heart and honors our willingness to obey in whatever way we are able to.
Also, later on, God honored his request for a “sign” in terms of the fleece. Gideon asked (several times) for God to treat a certain piece of fleece a specific way to confirm that the message he heard was true. And God did; He gives us answers when we ask.
The final amazing thing is this, God allowed Gideon to take someone with him through the process. I LOVE this! The Lord saw Gideon right where he was and knew that he needed support from a tangible, flesh & blood comrade!
In the midst of implementing the most bizarre battle strategy, God instructed Gideon to scout the enemy camp…and then comes my favorite part…In Samuel 7:10 God says to Gideon, “But if you are afraid to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp…” and in verse 11 we see that “he went with Purah.”
He didn’t tell him to “buck up,” he told him to grab a friend and step into the scary place together.
What was Purah’s role? Did he act as a spy and supply intelligence? Did he create a weapon that was un-answerable? Did he take charge after the leader of the army was wounded? Nope.
Purah simply was faithful in his role as a servant, and accompanied Gideon in his assignment from God. He provided something for Gideon that we overlook or deny that we need; he simply provided companionship.
Being self-sufficient and independent is such a highly respected quality in our culture. If you can describe yourself as “self-made” then your value automatically bumps up a notch. We have trained ourselves to mask perceived weakness and to appear capable.
Often in the Bible, we see God calling His people not to be afraid or to take courage. However, these commands are made in the context of being in God’s presence. God’s admonition to “fear not” is followed by “for I am with you.” It is in the midst of His presence that we can walk without fear.
And although I am thankful that I have no need to fear, I am also thankful for the story of Gideon and Purah. In our lives, we need to know that both of these strategies for handling fear are acceptable in God’s eyes. There will be times when we can simply walk on through the battle or the valley in the peace that God has made a path for us and is guiding us….but there will be times when we need a buddy to hold our hand as we journey forward.