Quietly Faithful: Gideon (Part 1): He’s is no wimp!

Common labels too often attached to introverts include withholding, passive, cold, backward, bashful, cowardly, fearful, halting, hesitant, indecisive, shy, slow-witted, stand-offish, tentative, timid, and wimpy.

Take, for instance, Gideon. His story shows up in Judges 6-8 and opens with him hiding in a winepress, secretly threshing wheat. Because of this isolated taken-out-of-context moment, he’s thought of as a cowering coward.

He is fully seen by God

But context is crucial. Gideon was hiding from marauding hordes of ruthless Midianites who “would come like locusts in number,” laying waste to the land, taking everything and anything they wanted by force.

Hiding in the winepress seems shrewd given the viciousness of those he was hiding from. In other words, typical wise introvert behavior.

God clearly doesn’t view him as a wimp since his messenger angel addresses Gideon as a “mighty man of valor.”

He seeks clarification

Gideon’s first reaction is typical of an introvert. He tells his angelic messenger, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold…I am the least….” His overall response is very introvert-like: Asking for more information to better assess what’s happening; Taking time to process the information; Seeking clarification to ensure he’s heard correctly.

Gideon is being instructed to go against savage hordes and save his entire people. True to his created nature, Gideon carefully weighed what was happening to avoid acting rashly.

He takes measured action

Gideon’s first task was to destroy an altar and idols Gideon’s father, Joash, had built to Baal, a false god. He plans, gathers trusted helpers, and waits until the whole town is asleep to do the deed, then quietly goes to bed when it’s done.

In true introvert fashion, Gideon recedes until someone points the finger at him. In the morning, after discovering his involvement, the townspeople demand that he be stoned. But Gideon escapes this close call thanks to Joash intervening.

This would have been a knee-knocker moment for Gideon or anyone. He was only inches away from being killed. But emboldened by the grace God administers through Joash, Gideon uses this success as encouragement to keep going.

He responds to the Holy Spirit

As the Midianites rally with their allies in preparation to ravage the land, Gideon is empowered with the Spirit of the Lord (aka the Holy Spirit) to sound a trumpet call to arms.

Following this burst of energetic enthusiasm, he has a reasonable crisis of faith and needs a little more reassurance. After all, he is about to confront a godless, head-lopping mob of thousands.

He seeks additional assurance

With reverence, humility, and respect Gideon seeks a visible sign from the Lord to ensure he’s heard correctly and is taking the proper course of action. He gets creative and sets out his fleece.

Some view this as “testing the Lord” and just another example of Gideon’s many flaws. As Tim Keller points out in the book Judges for You (The Good Book Company, 2013), “Gideon was very specifically asking God to show him that he was not one of the forces of nature. Gideon was not looking for ‘little signs’ to help him make a decision. He was really seeking to understand the nature of God. We have to remember that he did not have the Bible, nor many of ‘means of grace’ that we have now (the word, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, Christian fellowship). He was very specifically addressing the places where his faith was weak and uninformed.”

Gideon comes humbly before God seeking one final assurance. This is a natural expression of Gideon’s introvert temperament and personality. The Lord shows no anger or impatience with Gideon.

He takes bold action

Once reassured, Gideon asks for no more signs, but without hesitation does what is asked. And what he is asked to do next is pretty remarkable – to trim his fighting force from 32,000 to 300!

Later, again recognizing the person Gideon was and how he had created him, the Lord offers Gideon an opportunity to seek further reassurance even though Gideon didn’t ask.

God tells Gideon to go eavesdrop on the enemy camp. There, he hears a man reveal a dream predicting an Israelite victory, is spiritually bolstered, and without hesitation launches a massively successful assault with only 300 men.

Next week we’ll continue looking at Gideon the introvert.

Agree? Disagree? Have a question about this column? Email Stephen at [email protected]. Share your thoughts about being a Christian introvert!

Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they are members of Immanuel Church. His website is He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog. He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and contributor to the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.

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