Judges 8:1-21 (Part 4) – A Dog, A Loaf of Bread, And Doing the Dirty Work

Posted: August 29, 2017 in 07-Judges
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Judges 8:1-21 (Part 4 of 4)
Gideon Kills Zebah and Zalmunna

If you are offended by anal-related stories, you might best stop right here and go read something else. It’s gonna get messy…

Back when I was married to my second wife, at one point in the marriage, the boys convinced their mother that they should have a pit bull. Against my wishes (imagine that in my second marriage!), they got a pit bull. The boys named him Tank for obvious reasons. Pit bulls are stout dogs. Even as puppies, they are dense, muscular dogs. Again, against my wishes (imagine that in my second marriage!), they boys were allowed to keep the dog in the house, even into the dog’s adult years. What a mistake that was! Tank was just a doggone (pardon the pun) destructive dog. He chewed on doors. Scratched them. He even chewed up the carpet in the living room in one corner to the point that we had to have the carpet in the living room replaced. What did he do? Chewed it up again in the same place! He chewed wallpaper off the wall. If anyone left food sitting out, particularly when he became an adult dog, he would jump put his paws on the edge of the table or countertop and steal the food. I hated that dog. I had never in my life had a dog in the house and I did not like it one bit. But back in those days, I was less inclined to voice my opinions about things because it might jeopardize my relationship with my second wife. I never wanted to do anything to jeopardize her approval of me, even in the smallest things that irritated me. This dog was not a small irritation. He was a big one both literally and figuratively. Did I say that I hated that dog! He destroyed our house. He was like the marauding Midianites were to the Israelites to me. It was similar in that he was destroying my house and there was nothing I could do about it. The wife and kids would make excuses for this dog’s destructive behavior. He would even tear up stuff at our neighbor’s houses. He would chase neighbor cats. He would turn over trash cans at our neighbor’s houses. He would try to hump the neighbor’s iddy biddy dog. He was hell on wheels.

And the pooping in the house. The boys wanted the dog but would rarely take him out for him do his bodily ablutions outdoors. My ex-wife or I would often have to take the dog out for those things. Did I tell that I hated that dog! Although it was not a regular thing, there were those times that someone forgot to take him out, and you would see him get squatty and you would go like in those slow motion scenes from movies where the audio get slowed down too and the person is diving through the air saying, “nooooooooooooo!”

Well having set the background to the story here. You do now realize how much, maybe you don’t, but let me tell you I hated that dog. He was the thorn in the side of Paul to me. Something that was a daily pain that I had to deal with. He was the demon’s spawn to me. He was the drip, drip, drip of water on the forehead of terrorist in a CIA interrogation to me. I really didn’t like this dog. He was the bane of my existence and of my wallet. I had mentioned earlier that he would steal food off tables and countertops if you were not looking. He had been known to steal ground beef straight off the countertop next to the kitchen sink on more than one occasion as my now ex-wife was about to cook the meat. But there was this one Saturday morning. The kids were outside with the dog playing in the yard. It was Saturday morning. I was lounging around in the bedroom watching a little TV. Just taking it easy. The boys rush in and shatter my peaceful Saturday morning. They say that something’s wrong with Tank. They said he’s running around yelping and he seemed as though he was in great pain they said. Even though I hated that dog with a passion, I went with them just to get them to be quiet. I go outside and the dog is running around yelping like an animal in pain going nuts and biting at his own rear end as if he had a bee up his butt or something and then starting running around again yelping. Finally, when I could get him to stop long enough to see what he was biting at his rear end about, I saw it. He had something plastic sticking out of his…well…anus.

Upon closer…yeah…closer examination, it looked like some kind of plastic wrapping. That dog would eat anything. Whatever it was, when it worked its way through his digestive system and was ready to be “pooped out” it got stuck in his anal muscles. A portion of the plastic wrapping was sticking out. That is what the dog was yelping about. It was 10% out and 90% in. What’s the resolution here you might ask. The dog was yelping and running around like a mad dog and it was beginning to disturb the neighbors. There had to be a quick resolution. Well, no one else was willing to solve this problem. So, it was up to dear ol’ dad (stepdad in this case) to solve the problem. I yelled for my wife to bring me a pair of those yellow plastic gloves that she used for cleaning where you did not want your hands exposed to chemicals and such. So, yep, here goes. I put on the gloves. I got all three boys to hold Tank still from the front of the dog. Trey and Josh to hold him. And Dillon to talk to the dog and keep him calm. With gloves on, I go to the anus of the dog. I grab hold of this wrapping. And ewwwww of all ewwwws, I pull it with my hand inside this plastic glove. I pull slowly and the dog wimpers and growls as I do it. As I keep pulling it on this thing, I find out it is a that plastic bag that a loaf of bread comes in. That daggum dog had sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning snuck into the kitchen and inhaled a loaf of bread, packaging and all. No one was willing to pull the bread bag out of the dog’s butt but somebody had to do it and somebody ended up being me, dear ol’ dad. I am sure that this was quite a sight to my next door neighbor as he watched me pull a bread bag out of a dog’s butt! It is funny when I think about it now. Like a surgeon I removed the agent that was irritating this irritating dog to no end. I was that guy that draws the short straw that has to go into the cesspool to retrieve a valuable item that was hidden there. I was the guy that was like in some hazing from a fraternity at college where you have to eat worms or something gross. This was one of those “I did not sign up for this when I married you” kind of things. Pulling a bread bag out of a dog’s butt is not in the wedding vows nor is it an expectation that is in the proverbial husband/father job description. I dare say that I have never had to do that again. The damn dog ate a loaf of bread, bag and all! The funny part is that no one else would help this dog out but the one person who hated him the most. All those in that lived in my house that loved the dog so much were not willing to go to the dog’s butt and pull out the plastic bag! How ironic!

Tank appreciated it though. He knew (dog’s know these things) that I hated his rear end (nice language used as to what I would normally say, but it is also funny using that term in the context of this story). He knew I did not like him at all but on this day, he turned around and licked me and ran off. Next like the guy in a haz-mat suit that has to take something radioactive to the truck, I was the guy with the plastic gloves on carrying this fecal tinged, stinky plastic bag to the trash. I was one of those experiences where you are trying not to hurl but you are convulsing.

That’s what I thought of this morning as we read this passage for the fourth time. That story came to mind about how sometimes as leaders, we must do the jobs that no one else wants to do but the jobs that must be done. Here in this passage, we see that Gideon has to do the deed that no one else wanted to do. Let’s read the passage now:

8 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, “Why have you treated us like this? Why didn’t you call us when you went to fight Midian?” And they challenged him vigorously.

2 But he answered them, “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? 3 God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?” At this, their resentment against him subsided.

4 Gideon and his three hundred men, exhausted yet keeping up the pursuit, came to the Jordan and crossed it. 5 He said to the men of Sukkoth, “Give my troops some bread; they are worn out, and I am still pursuing Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.”

6 But the officials of Sukkoth said, “Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your troops?”

7 Then Gideon replied, “Just for that, when the Lord has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers.”

8 From there he went up to Peniel[a] and made the same request of them, but they answered as the men of Sukkoth had. 9 So he said to the men of Peniel, “When I return in triumph, I will tear down this tower.”

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor with a force of about fifteen thousand men, all that were left of the armies of the eastern peoples; a hundred and twenty thousand swordsmen had fallen. 11 Gideon went up by the route of the nomads east of Nobah and Jogbehah and attacked the unsuspecting army. 12 Zebah and Zalmunna, the two kings of Midian, fled, but he pursued them and captured them, routing their entire army.

13 Gideon son of Joash then returned from the battle by the Pass of Heres. 14 He caught a young man of Sukkoth and questioned him, and the young man wrote down for him the names of the seventy-seven officials of Sukkoth, the elders of the town. 15 Then Gideon came and said to the men of Sukkoth, “Here are Zebah and Zalmunna, about whom you taunted me by saying, ‘Do you already have the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna in your possession? Why should we give bread to your exhausted men?’” 16 He took the elders of the town and taught the men of Sukkoth a lesson by punishing them with desert thorns and briers. 17 He also pulled down the tower of Peniel and killed the men of the town.

18 Then he asked Zebah and Zalmunna, “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?”

“Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.”

19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. As surely as the Lord lives, if you had spared their lives, I would not kill you.” 20 Turning to Jether, his oldest son, he said, “Kill them!” But Jether did not draw his sword, because he was only a boy and was afraid.


21 Zebah and Zalmunna said, “Come, do it yourself. ‘As is the man, so is his strength.’” So Gideon stepped forward and killed them, and took the ornaments off their camels’ necks.

In this passage, we see that, in vv. 20-21, for a king to be killed by a boy would be humiliating because it would look as though he was no match for a boy. The two men wanted to avoid that disgrace as the slower more painful death that an inexperienced swordsman might inflict. Gideon’s son must have never killed anyone or either he did not feel right killing prone men as opposed to it being in battle. Gideon was trying to bestow an honor on his son by allowing him to kill two enemies of the nation of Israel. Maybe, Gideon was tired and simply did not want to do the execution. However, sometimes, we must do our own dirty work. Sometimes, when we are in positions of responsibility, we must do what needs to be done even when we do not want to. Sometimes, we have to do jobs that no one else wants to do.

As leaders in the church, we sometimes have to do the dirty work. Sometimes, we have to tell people the truth about their sins. Sometimes, we have to tell the truth to them about the fact that they are not gifted in the area that they believe falsely that they are gifted in. Sometimes, we have to preach the gospel truth from the pulpit that is controversial and countercultural. Sometimes, we have preach the Word that directly punches a person in the gut about the sin that they are actively participating in. Sometimes, we have to confront friends with the truth about their behavior. Sometimes, we are the only ones that will do it, because no one else will take the risk. Sometimes, we have to be the one to lay our life on the line to inspire others to be willing to do the same. My senior pastor has said several times that we should never ask our people that work for us or volunteer for us that we would not do ourselves. He has mentioned many times when the church first got started, he was cleaning bathrooms on Saturday night before church and on Monday morning after church. We must be willing to do the very same dirty work that we ask our people to do. We must be willing to show people that we can never be too proud to do the little things, the necessary things, the needed things. We must set the example of leading the battle charge and taking the first blow from the enemy. One of my favorite movies is Braveheart and I can see William Wallace leading the men into battle and he was fighting right there in the middle of them as opposed to the English king who stood off in the distance far from the war. William Wallace’s men loved him deeply and passionately because they knew he would not ask them to do anything that he would not do himself. They knew that he knew what they went through in battle.

Think about it how it changes your decision making when you know what your people are going through because you have been there yourself. Let us be leaders who understand our people. Let us be leaders who never are above rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty.

We have an example in Jesus Christ. He knows what we go through as human being because he got down in the sin-filled world with us. He got his hands dirty. He lived among us even though He is God. He got dirty. He was beaten. He was battered. He was bloodied. He was nailed to the cross. He died the most excruciating death known to main after already having been beaten within an inch of his life. He knows about pain. He knows about suffering. He knows about being a kid. He knows about being a teenager. He knows about being an adult. He knows the human experience. Whatever you are going through He has experienced it. He experienced it so that He could give you a chance to be reconciled with God. He experienced it all so that He could know you and what you go through. He loves you that much that He laid aside his glory to do the dirty work of redemption. He laid aside His glory so that you could know God and be in his presence. He laid aside his glory and did the dirty work of dying on the cross so that the penalty of all you sins has been paid for. Don’t let His dirty work be wasted. Come to him now. Even though we are enemies of God before we accept Jesus, we are all fully acceptable in Jesus’s sight through the cross where He pulls our sins out of our body and takes them on Himself and suffers for them. We are free from the pain that sin has lodged in us. We can them turnaround and love on God freely and without penalty and luxuriate in the presence of God.

Amen and Amen.

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