The Mighty Man of Valor
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6:11-12 ESV)
A title is usually earned. No one hands the Heisman to a pee wee player. The MVP gets chosen after he’s proven himself in the game. God doesn’t operate like this, though. He gives a title and then makes the man.
Consider Gideon. He was the runt of a family in the runtest of clans. One day he is trying to hide some wheat from raiders. You see, every time the Israelites would harvest a crop, the Midianites, Amelekites, and others would come visit. They would bring their men and animals and they’d lay waste to the land. When the swarm of looters left, only dirt would remain.
Gideon beats the wheat, looking around and hurrying. Then an angel appears under a nearby tree. He greets him as a “mighty man of valor.”
So the weakest guy in the weakest clan who is hurrying to hide food so it isn’t taken from him is a “mighty man of valor?” Gideon doesn’t get it, either. The angel tells him he’s going to face the bully nation – the Midianites – himself. He will lead the charge. After some questions to the angel and a bit of backpedaling, he obeys. He raises a large army and gathers momentum. Then God decides to thin Gideon’s army substantially to decrease Gideon’s odds. (God likes to show off.) Gideon presses on and raids the Midianite camp and wrecks shop with God’s help.
Only then does Gideon’s title make sense.
God knew who Gideon would become because He intended to make Gideon into the man he would become – a mighty man of valor indeed.
The Titles He Gives
As men, we get titles like an author gets an advance. Big time authors get an advance of cash from their publisher for writing a book. These advances can be huge if the author is accomplished – but the author may not have written a word of the book yet. Just as the author gets the cash before she’s done anything, we men get titles before we’ve done anything. Huge advances.
A man becomes a dad before he has any clue as to how to raise children.
A man becomes a husband with no understanding of how to lay his life down for his wife.
Jesus calls us a friend when we have done nothing to earn His friendship (John 15:15).
We are sons of God, adopted into His family while dead in our sins (Galatians 3:26).
The difference between an author’s advance and God’s advance titles He gives to us is that the author is given the cash based on their talent. The publisher assumes because the author is a pro they will write a killer book and thus it’s a safe bet to front the money to them. On the other hand, our titles are given based on the greatness of God. So when, like Gideon, God calls you to be a mighty man of valor, you don’t have to look around and go, “who – me?” You can think ah-ha. He will come through.
David and Goliath
When David came out against Goliath, he had swag. He was just a shepherd boy with no great physical prowess, but he had tested his skill against apex predators who tried to kill his father’s sheep. But more than that, David had confidence because he knew God was with him. He knew how to use a rock sling like a sniper but Goliath was a hulking terror of a man. He’d need some help. When he raised his hand and volunteered to go toe to toe with Goliath, Saul rolls his eyes:
And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” (1 Samuel 17:32-33 ESV)
Saul tells David he is “but a youth.” That’s the kind of titles the world likes to give us. When you want to do something that matters, you will be called a dreamer, a kid, or a fool. You might not hear it from another person, either – you may be the one who downgrades your title.
These denigrating titles are usually a sign post on the journey of doing something worth doing. They mean you’re on the right track. Press on.
David knew God would deliver him. He just did. He trusted and he walked out on the battlefield to meet Goliath. And he slayed Goliath where he stood. We know the rest of David’s story, how he becomes King David and how he is a man after God’s heart.
Real growth happens when God places His hand on your back and says to go, especially when He’s calling you to something terrifying. Go ask that girl out. Stand up to that bully. Speak up for the marginalized. Show the world your poetry that you love. You know how you know you’re about to enter a refining time in your manhood? You are scared. Your breaths are shallow and your palms grease. Your brain hones in on one thing and try as you might nothing else will come to mind. You know you might as well face it but you’d rather about-face.
You may be a youth, like David. But if God has called you to something, borrow some armor and meet that giant on the battlefield. You may not be good with a sling, but you were given an advance promotion by the God of the universe. He’ll show up.
fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)