Grapes of Wrath
And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? ~Judges 8:2
Have you ever reacted to something that you perceived to be offensive and said something in anger that made you and the other person hostile enemies? How we react to our perceptions can make or break us. Solomon gave us a biblical principle on how to respond, and not react, to angry words against you. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs15:1). Let us see how Gideon exemplified a soft answer with the men of Ephraim.
We see the tirade.
“And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply.” The men of Ephraim were valiant men of war. They felt disrespected that they were not summoned at the front end to fight with the Midianites. They did not realize that God gave Gideon and Israel the victory. They chided with Gideon sharply. This means they were violent in their accusation. They wanted to hurt Gideon. The men were filled with wrath. They made false assumptions about Gideon. Instead of seeing that the enemy was on the outside, they assumed that Gideon was their enemy. Let us remember that “an angry man stirreth up strife.”
We see the tempering.
“And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? Is not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?” The battle with the Midianites was not over. Gideon had to respond correctly or else a civil war would have ensued and the Midianites could have returned and beaten Israel. First, Gideon tempered his spirit. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Second, Gideon tempered his speech. His words praised the men of Ephraim. He praised them for being much better men than him and his tribe. He basically said, “What am I in comparison to you?”
We see the tactfulness.
“God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you?” Saying the right thing at the right time can be life and death. Again, Gideon said that he was little in comparison to them. He reminded them that they had killed the princes of Midian. He said that God gave them a more decisive victory than He gave to himself. Gideon did not, one time, defend himself. He purposely gave praise and acknowledgement. His goal was to win a friend and not make an enemy.
We see the tapering.
The anger of the men of Ephraim was abated towards him. They came to their senses and cooled down. They put down their swords and fists, and they remembered that the battle was against Midian, and not with Gideon. Many arguments can be avoided if we walk in the Spirit and respond correctly instead of reacting. Many marriages can thrive and be happy homes if couples develop a soft answer instead of being annoyed. Don’t let 60 seconds of harsh words create an enemy for a lifetime.
Have a tempered God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Job 21-23