“And Yahweh said to Gideon, ‘Still the people are mighty. Take them down to the water and I will sift them there for you. And it will be that the ones which I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ he shall go with you. And of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ he shall not go with you.”
At the heart of this passage is the reality and the reminder that God is to be glorified and that if he is going to bring a deliverance to his people, he will remove from view any doubt as to who the responsible deliverer is. In this particular case, God has raised up a minor, non-military man from the north (Gideon) to lead his armies. And even though the Midianite horde still significantly outnumbers the Israelites, just in case the soldiers might be tempted to brag about their bravery, God reduces the numbers once again. We will talk more about how God does so in the following verses, but the principle is before us here.
This is part of what it means when God says that he is a jealous God. He is not jealous in an insecure way, as we might be, but he is jealous that he not share his glory with any man. Our habit and tendency is to make idols. We chase after the fancies of our heart and bow down to anything and everything of glory or beauty that stands before us. It is specifically because of that, that God says, “No!” He will not share his glory. This, friends, is for our benefit as well, because when we bow down before the things of earth which cannot deliver, we are wasting our energies, distracting our worship, and defiling ourselves spiritually. There is no coincidence that God compares idolatry to adultery in the Bible. The former is the spiritual equivalent of the latter.
The application to our lives ought to be fairly clear. Serve God and Him alone. Give Him all of the glory and credit for your successes. And recognize that even the good works of your hands are only ever done by and through Christ.