And he took the elders of the city, and he took thorns of the wilderness and briers and with them taught the men of Succoth a lesson. – Judges 8.16
This little gem is from the book of Judges. The book of judges is the story of what happens when there is no godly leadership. It is the time between the death of Joshua and the first King of Israel, Saul. Israel would go through the same cycle every couple of years: Israel sins and worship false gods; the Lord gets angry; the Lord delivers them into the hands of an enemy; Israel cries; the Lord raises of a deliverer to rescue them…rinse and repeat.
Chapter 6-8 is about Gideon. I love Gideon because he’s a manly man. He wasn’t at first, of course. In fact, when God called him to go and defeat the enemy of the week, Midian, he complains that he’s the weakest man from the weakest house in the weakest tribe. The greatest of God’s men are humble (Mark 9.35). Gideon accepts God’s call and proceeds to tear down the city idols in the middle of the night and build an altar to God on top of the rubble. He quickly learns that God’s men have to be willing to do the right thing, even if it will piss others off. Finally, God tells Gideon to go an attack the Midianites. God doesn’t want Gideon to be tempted to boast in his size, power, or experience. So, after pruning down his army of 32,000 to 300, God deems him ready to defeat Midian. God’s men depend on God ‘s ways, not men’s strategy, to do what appears impossible.
This OBSCURE VERSE comes AFTER the defeat when he is chasing after two Kings who got away. On his way he travels by the city of Succoth and asks them to feed his army as he pursues their common enemy. Unfortunately, their city is full of a bunch of girly wieners concerned about their own stuff and not manly warriors with a heart for the Kingdom of God. They mockingly refuse to support their battling brothers. In response, Gideon tells them, in no uncertain terms that, after he has whooped up on the enemy, he is coming back to open up a can on them.
He does, as promised, defeat the Kings. In fact, he kills the kings brutally for the brutality they showed the Israel. And, as promised, he does return to the city his brothers at Succoth–whom he just saved. And, as promised, he gathers some thorny brier bushes and, as promised, teaches “the men a lesson.” We see that, God’s men not only make good on their promises and fight God’s enemies, occasionally, they also need to man up and kick their sinful brother’s arse too...in love.