“Into the Promised Land”: Gideon
Why is it that we are so prone to claim our victories and blame our failures? Well, that is a question I believe I know the answer to: sinful pride. When we experience something that we see as good (a promotion, a good grade, a flawless dinner, a powerful blog post—gulp), we are so quick to take credit for it because doing so feeds our sinful pride. It’s good to feel good. But when something goes awry, we are just as quick—even quicker?—to blame someone or something else. The reason is the same: we want to protect our sinful pride. It’s bad to feel bad.
But the gospel tells a different story—a better story.
It’s good to feel…bad. Well, that certainly needs to be qualified.
You are likely familiar with Gideon’s story—the story of an unlikely leader leading an unlikely band of warriors going to war and winning an unlikely victory. Unlikeliness is the obvious theme.
We are surprised when God chooses Gideon to lead Israel’s army. He was among the least of his family hiding from the Midianites when we first meet him; a man no one would have chosen to rescue God’s people. Then our surprise gives we to shock when we read of God whittling down what was already an undermatched army. Then our shock gives way to astonishment when that army, in an unorthodox way even, is victorious in battle.
The lesson is clear: Gideon and the Israelites did not win the battle—God did.
Gideon’s story is so compelling because it reminds us of another story, a bigger story which this one points to: Jesus’ story. No one expected the Christ to look and act like Jesus. He was not of royalty or nobility. He was the son of a modest, likely lower-middle class couple. And no one would have been impressed with his meager initial group of followers. It was a small, powerless group of men and women, many of whom were outcasts themselves. And no one certainly would have anticipated the astonishing way Christ brought victory to the world—in an unorthodox act of love, grace, and mercy, Jesus laid down His own life to secure the victory.
The lesson is clear: we did not defeat sin and death—God did.
So what about our story? What is the story about ourselves that we believe and tell? That we are weak and powerless and in need of a Savior, or that we are strong and in control and in need of nothing, or perhaps only a little help from God from time to time? Are you seeing why it is good to feel bad?
Now, let me unpack what I mean by that—or rather what I don’t mean first. I don’t mean to say that we should have an overly critical view of ourselves. We are image bearers of God! We are of great worth for that reason alone. Neither am I saying that discouragement and depression are good. God does not want us to live that way—He wants us to live with joy unceasing.
So what do I mean?I mean that it is good for us to recognize our weaknesses. Our failures. Our neediness. Because when we do this—when we see how Gideon’s story is our story—we are able to see the beauty of Christ’s story, and in turn the beauty of our story. Our weakness is beautiful because it is the backdrop for Christ’s strength. Our failures are beautiful because they are the backdrop for Christ’s victory. Our neediness is beautiful because it is the backdrop of Christ’s provision.
This is the better story the gospel tells. It is a beautiful story of the greatness of Christ—the glory of God—that shines forth most brightly when we don’t allow our pride to push Him out of the spotlight.
Gideon’s story is much bigger than … Gideon. Like everything else in the Bible, his story is actually about God and His people. It tells of His love for them, His enduring and boundless mercy toward them, and His strength operating in spite of—even through—weakness in them.” – Priscilla Shirer 
Preschool Tip: There are plenty of details—important one—in this story, so be sure that the big idea is not lost on your preschoolers: that God did for His people what they could not do. Preschoolers especially should have a keen sense of awareness of what it looks like to need others. Take advantage of that great quality in them and pray that it remains within them and does not give way to sinful pride.
Kids Tip: For kids, besides driving toward the Christ Connection of this story, be sure to help them see the bigger story arc of Judges. God’s people were in sinful rebellion once more, and once more He sent a deliverer. But once again the deliverer could not address the root of the problem: sin. In Deborah and Barak we saw a team. Now we see a weak man. Next time we will see a strong man. All the while, God is showing us that no earthly judge was sufficient. Only Jesus is.
 Priscilla Shirer, Gideon (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 2013), 9.