Hoping to relieve him of financial pressure and enable him to write more freely, the first publishers of American writer Sherwood Anderson offered to send him a weekly check. After a few weeks, however, Anderson took his latest check back to the publishers office. “Its no use,” he explained. “I find it impossible to work with security staring me in the face.”
Unlike Anderson, the Israelite leader Gideon found that he couldnt work without security staring him in the face. It was Gideons insecurity which caused him to ask God for two miraculous signs aimed at strengthening his faith. From a human point of view, Gideons fear is understandable. After all, his tiny force of 300 armed men was about to face an army of 135,000 Midianites. Gideons band seemed to have little or no chance against such a superior force.
However, Gideon knew that God had sent him against the Midianites (see 6:12-16). But the fear of defeat had paralyzed Gideons faith. Thats why he asked God to prove His presence through the two familiar requests we read about today. On the first night, Gideon put a fleece on the ground. If it was wet the next day while the ground was dry, he would know God would give him victory (vv. 36-38).
But that wasnt quite enough for Gideon. Perhaps he realized that a fleece could remain wet even after the ground had dried. So he asked God to keep the fleece dry and the ground wet on the next night (vv. 39-40). God did as Gideon requested, and Gods servant went on to lead the Israelites in the defeat of the Midianites (7:1-25).
The miracle of Gideons fleece demonstrates that ours is a God of compassion. Gods command and promise were clear: He would be with Gideon, and they would “strike down all the Midianites” (6:16). Instead of rebuking Gideon for his fear, the Lord buoyed his faith with a miracle. God allowed security to stare Gideon in the face so Gideon could accomplish Gods purpose.