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Gideon did not believe the Lord/We Walk by Faith and not by Sight

Text: Gracia Grindal Tune: James Clemens

Text: Henry Alford (1810-1871) Tune: Marty Haugen

Gideon thanks God for Morning Dew van Heemskerck

1. Gideon did not believe the Lord

Put the fleece out on the threshing floor.

“If it’s wet with dew

I will know that you

Will be there at my right hand

As I fight to save the land.”

2. In the morning Gideon went to see

Just how wet the fleece had come to be.

It was soaking wet,

Wet as it could get,

Wet enough to fill a bowl.

Still it troubled Gideon’s soul.

3. Gideon did not quite trust God’s word,

Saying, “Don’t be angry, Lord,

Once more could I try:

Let the fleece be dry.”

Then God answered him, he knew:

All but it was wet with dew.

4. “Now I know you are the Lord of Lords,”

Gideon said, “O help me, be my guard.

You are God of all,

You made great and small.

Lord, forgive my unbelief;

Give me faith, help me believe.”

Text Copyright Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc. 2015


Putting out the fleece is a common expression among some Christians. I grew up with it as I noted some time back on the hymnblog. My parents taught me about it early on. If there was a question that may have needed an answer, and the feelings about it were at 50/50, my mother would say, put out the fleece. And then she would say, for example, if there are over 250 in church tomorrow, we will do this, rather than that.

We would laugh about it, but it stopped her from fretting. I have come to use the expression about such decisions and have also come to understand the wisdom of doing so. You put the question into God’s hands and go on with the rest of the day without having to tie yourself up in knots about the decision.

What Gideon did, however, seems over the edge. He was really testing God in a way that makes me expect a kind of bolt from the heavens. First, demanding God fill the fleece with dew, which it was to overflowing. Wanting a second sign seems outrageous. But God sends the message clearly.The fleece was dry the next morning. Gideon now must go into battle. And it is a strange one. God does not want him to go with too many troops, but only with those fierce enough to lap up the water from the river like dogs.

They defeat the Midianites by scaring the daylights out of them with their small force of 100 men, as they blow the trumpets and smash the jars in their hands. It scares the Midianites out of their minds and they flee. God is the victor!

St. Thomas by Valesquez

There is good reason that the church uses the story of Gideon as an OT story to stand with the story of doubting Thomas. Thomas also tests Jesus. His great cry on hearing that they have seen Jesus and he has not, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the marks of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

When Jesus says, “Put your finger here, and see my hands, and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do no disbelieve, but believe,” Thomas instantly worships Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” Something happened in this encounter that awakened faith in Thomas. "We walk by faith, not by sight." It is one of the perfect hymns for this Sunday.

Thomas then becomes a model of faith, not doubt, as he takes the Gospel into the farthest reaches of the known world. The story goes that he went to India. There are today Indian Christians who see themselves in a direct line with Thomas. Some even suggest he went to China. About these things we know little, but the story is clear in both Gideon and Thomas—doubt can be changed in a twinkling of an eye to faith strong enough to do unimaginably gallant things for the Lord.

But on a less grand backdrop, giving things over to the Lord, putting out the fleece, resting in the fact that you will be led by the Lord in both great and small things gives one freedom. Maybe even good humor to go forward into the future, confident that somehow in all this, God is going before. We believe he is leading us into places we might never have thought of, surprising us again and again. And in these surprises, we learn to believe that he is near: Our Lord and God!


My text is a fun piece I wrote on the texts for the saints and martyrs with James Clemens.

Henry Alford

Alford, a Victorian writer, known mostly for his monumental edition of the Greek New Testament, and his art, also wrote many hymns, of which this one is the most famous. Marty Haugen, one of the most influential composers and writers of liturgical music in the past fifty years, has written a lovely tune for the old chestnut. He used it in his Mass for the Creation composed in 1996. A graduate of Luther College, he became the musician of the Vatican II liturgical revival in the United States and is still an active composer of music for worship. His songs are popular because they are so lyrical and memorable. Probably his most well known work is Holden Evening Prayer which he wrote while at Holden Village.

1 We walk by faith, and not by sight; no gracious words we hear from one who spoke as none e’er spoke, but we believe him near.

2 We may not touch his hands and side, nor follow where he trod, yet in his promise we rejoice, and cry, “My Lord and God!”

3 Help then, O Lord, our unbelief, and may our faith abound to call on you when you are near, and seek where you are found:

4 that when our life of faith is done, in realms of clearer light we may behold you as you are in full and endless sight.

5 We walk by faith, and not by sight; no gracious words we hear from one who spoke as none e’er spoke, but we believe him near.


We Walk by Faith and not by Sight

Marty Haugen

From the recording of the Mass of Creation

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