St. Gideon — ‘The Lord Must Rule Over You’
This Old Testament saint provides us with rich, vibrant images — and nudges us toward a greater trust in God.
The Israelites then said to Gideon, “Rule over us — you, your son, and your son’s son — for you saved us from the power of Midian.” But Gideon answered them, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you. The LORD must rule over you.” —Judges 8:22–23
Gideon was a special leader to the Israelites in the midst of a unique time in Israelite history. It was after the arrival in the Promised Land but before the monarchy was established. It was a biblical era when certain people were chosen by God to take charge during distressful situations. These individuals became known as “judges.”
Gideon was a prominent judge whose story began when the Midianites had been terrorizing his countrymen. Just as the Israelites would complete their time of planting, hordes of Midianites would come upon their farmland and decimate their crops and livestock. The Hebrew people became overwhelmed and distraught, feeling unable to rally against such a large and aggressive group of people. Within this time of overpowering strife, God sent an angel to Gideon, declaring that it would be Gideon who was to lead the nation out of their trouble.
Gideon felt incredulous and desired an indication of assurance. So, the angel of God graciously provided a few extraordinary signs to help give confidence and faith to the new judge: a spontaneous fire, wet fleece found upon dry ground, and dry fleece found upon wet ground all convinced Gideon that God would indeed guide him through the daunting mission.
While many desired to join Gideon’s ranks, God insisted upon a small army so that the Israelites might feel the power of God during their triumph over the Midianites. God directed Gideon to bring the large group to some water. Those who lapped the water from cupped hands were chosen for the final cut. Late that night, the army of three hundred approached the drowsy Midianite camp. All at once, they began blowing horns, smashing clay jars, waving torches, and shouting. The sudden noise threw the Midianites into a horrified frenzy, and they all ran away with fright.
The experience made the Israelites feel great loyalty to Gideon, and they wanted him as their official ruler; however, Gideon insisted they rely on God for leadership instead.
A Biblical Novena to St. Gideon
This sometimes overlooked Old Testament saint provides us with rich, vibrant images — and nudges us toward a greater trust in God. Using the passages below, try to imagine yourself at each event-filled scene. How do you think you might have reacted if you had been there? Can you apply these narratives in any way to your own life? Consider spending nine consecutive days reading, contemplating, praying about, and journaling about St. Gideon using these passages. Be sure to ask St. Gideon to pray for you! St. Gideon is listed on the Sept. 26 page of the Roman Martyrology.
- Day 1) Judges 6:1–6
- Day 2) Judges 6:7–10
- Day 3) Judges 6:11–18
- Day 4) Judges 6:19–24
- Day 5) Judges 6:34–40
- Day 6) Judges 7:1–8
- Day 7) Judges 7:16–22
- Day 8) Judges 8:22–23
- Day 9) Judges 8:28