Poetry from the Bible




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By Jim Vasquez

And now I tell you of a man,
So filled with doubts and fears,
You'll wonder how it came to be,
And scarce believe your ears,
To hear of how he triumphed and,
One day led Israel's men,
Against the Midianite army and,
To freedom once again.
Yes, Gideon tested God betimes,
To put it kindly and,
When once he heard the angel's voice,
Resisted each command.
Just how, you ask, could such a man,
This victory bring about,
Against th' oppressive Midianites,
And not just win but rout?
Therein my tale consists, dear friend,
Which I'm about to tell,
And set in order how it was,
That Gideon fought so well.
For years the Israelites were oppressed,
In all the land for they,
Had chosen to ignore God's law,
Nor followed in his way.
And when to God they cried aloud,
In heav'n their plea was heard,
An angel then he sent who spoke,
This most unusual word:
"The Lord is with you, Gideon,
Your courage is well known,
A mighty warrior are you now,
As all your people groan."
And Gideon first then showed his doubts,
As in reply he said,
"Then where his wonders as of old,
And why such pain instead?
"Please tell me, sir, does it not seem,
Our God has left us now,
And though from Egypt he redeemed,
He then forgot his vow?"
But God then said he was to go,
And from th' oppressor's hand,
Deliver Israel and restore,
Her fortunes in the land.
And then this feeble answer came,
"The least am I among,
My family which in all our tribe,
Is least acclaimed and sung."
"Am I not sending you," God said,
"That you may hip and thigh,
Smite mightily the Midianites,
From plain to heaven high?"
"Now give a sign," the answer was,
"That I may surely know,
'Tis you, none else, who speaks these words,
To whom this charge I owe."
And Gideon quickly offered up,
Unleavened bread and meat,
Which, touched by angel's staff was then,
Consumed in blazing heat.
An altar then he built to God,
And named, The Lord is Peace,
Though in the land the foe still reigned,
And war was yet to cease.
Now when the enemy amassed,
Its arms and every son,
The Spirit of the Lord came down,
To rest on Gideon.
But doubtful still he pleaded then,
If God would save indeed,
All Israel by his wavering hand,
Another sign he'd need.
A fleece he now proposed to God,
That in the morn quite wet,
He'd find it while the floor around,
Would have no dew as yet.
And so it was, he found it just,
As he had asked it be,
And promptly, then, he made it known,
He had another plea.
"Now let the fleece be dry and round,
The earth be wet with dew."
And in his kindness God inclined,
To grant this favor, too.
Then all his men he gathered and,
Prepared to fight a war,
For thirty thousand soldiers came,
And then two thousand more.
But God would not allow this man,
With such a liberal host,
To fight for him and win the war,
Lest in themselves they boast.
And so at Gideon's firm command,
All those who feared abstained,
And when they had departed thence,
Ten thousand men remained.
And then as if to test yet more,
His servant's faith that day,
God cut their numbers once again,
To fit them for the fray.
He watched them as they knelt to drink,
By morning's early light,
And those who lapped with hand to mouth,
Were chosen then to fight.
"With these three hundred men I'll save,
My people from the foe,
Prepare your army, Gideon,
And let the others go."
But God knew well this Gideon,
That he yet lived in fear,
And overnight no change would come,
Perhaps not in a year.
And once again his kindness showed,
In this most clever scheme,
He sent him to the Midianite camp,
That he might hear a dream,
For there a soldier shared his thoughts,
And to another said,
His tent stood well till striken by,
A loaf of barley bread.
Amazed, the other man replied,
The sword of Gideon, then,
Would have the final victory,
O'er all the Midianite men.
And hearing, Gideon worshipped God,
And so that very night,
He called to arms his soldiers that,
They might rise up and fight.
"To battle, men, and strike the foe,
And watch my lead," he said.
"Our God shall be your strength this night,
Where'er your foot shall tread."
And trumpets were provided each,
With jar and torch as well,
And they were told to ring the camp,
And then in full voice yell,
"A sword for God, and Gideon!"
And thus they all fulfilled,
The orders that were given them,
Which God, in truth, had willed.
And hearing trumpets and the noise,
That from the many jars,
Arose as each was smashed to bits,
'Neath heaven's silent stars,
The Midianites then as one arose,
And fleeing all the way,
Upon each other turned their swords,
So great their disarray.
And Gideon then sent out a call,
That others thus might share,
His meager army's triumph and,
The victor's standard bear.
And now, dear friend, I trust I have,
Your questions put to rest,
About this doubting man and how,
He weathered well the test.
He trusted God though faith was born,
A little late, some say,
Yet soon or late what pleases God,
Is how one ends the day.


from the January 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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