Focus

“And he said to the men of Succoth, ‘Please give rounds of bread to the people who are at my feet, for they are weary and I am pursuing after Zabach and Tsalmunna, kings of Midian.’”

(Judges 8:5)

The reference to “rounds” of bread is a reference to a relatively small, round loaf that would not weigh down the soldiers, would be portable, but which would give these men some sustenance. While saying, “Feed 300 men” sounds like a large undertaking for a town, that is not the request that is being made. We will deal with the response of the men of Succoth in the next reflection, but note that all is being asked is, “Can you give these men something to eat for we are exhausted — 300 small cakes of bread is all we ask.”

What is most interesting is the change in person. Gideon says that “they are weary” and then goes on to say that “I am pursuing…” Clearly, the 300 soldiers are also in pursuit of these kings and it is very reasonable to presume that Gideon, too, was weary and in need of sustenance. So why is the request worded in this way?

It seems that the best answer is tied to the calling that God places on Gideon. God has called his Judge to overthrow the Midianites…the 300 are there, but they are following after Gideon — literally, “at his feet” — or even, “at his heels.” They were there, but the battle this day would be given into Gideon’s hand. Thus, Gideon is in pursuit and would pursue them alone had God so called him, but the people need some sustenance as they pursue the enemy. And, while one can be sure that Gideon was hungry, I think that it can be safely said of Gideon at this point that his food “is to do the will of Him who sent me…”, just as our Savior would later attest.

They key for us is to be so committed to the call that God has placed on our lives that the “other stuff” — all of those things that so easily distract — is put and sent to the wayside.

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