Remember Gideon's Mother

Bible Book: Judges  8 : 19
Subject: Mother's Day; Mother; Family

Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-1949), the well-known Scottish American preacher, twice appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate, explained, “The modern challenge of motherhood is the eternal challenge - that of being a godly woman. The very phrase sounds strange in our ears. We never hear it now. We hear about every other kind of woman - beautiful women, smart women, sophisticated women, career women, talented women, divorced women, but so seldom do we hear of a godly woman - or of a godly man either, for that matter.

I believe women come nearer fulfilling their God-given function in the home than anywhere else. It is a much nobler thing to be a good wife than to be Miss America. It is a greater achievement to establish a Christian home than it is to produce a second-rate novel filled with filth. It is a far, far better thing in the realm of morals to be old-fashioned than to be ultramodern. The world has enough women who know how to hold their cocktails, who have lost all their illusions and their faith. The world has enough women who know how to be smart. It needs women who are willing to be simple. The world has enough women who know how to be brilliant. It needs some who will be brave. The world has enough women who are popular. It needs more who are pure. We need women, and men, too, who would rather be morally right than socially correct.”1

With mothers and children, there are four possibilities:

The first is that godly mothers could have godly children.

The second is that godly mothers could have ungodly children.

The third is that ungodly mothers could have ungodly children.

The fourth is that ungodly mothers could have godly children.

The account of Gideon and his mother best fits the latter of the four possibilities. Rev. Samuel Conway (1834-1895), former longtime pastor of Marsh Street Congregational Church, Walthamstow, (1871-1895)2 and a considerable contributor to The Pulpit Commentary3 explains, “Sometimes the children, seeing how wretched sin makes their home, are led to seek ‘a more excellent way’ for themselves. The ways of godliness seem like paradise to the victim of the ungodliness of many a home. How Sunday school children — many of them from terrible homes — love their school!”4 In Judges 8:19 we read the words of Gideon, “. . . my mother.”

Remember Gideon’s mother.

I. Remember Gideon’s mother and her nameless identity.

Sometimes you will find an article or account with the following caption: “Name Withheld”. Some details are omitted in the Bible. John 20:30-31 reads, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 21:25 reads, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

Although we do not know her name, we know her husband was Joash the Abiezrite (Judges 6:11) and of her sons, Gideon was the youngest (Judges 6:15).

Sir John Suckling (1609-1641) gave us the following lines about another woman—

Her face is like the milky way i' the sky,—

A meeting of gentle lights without a name.5

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) shared these lines in “The Raven” (1844):

 Sorrow for the lost Lenore—

 For the rare and beautiful maiden,

 Whom the angels name Lenore—

 Nameless here for evermore.6

 Dr. Herbert Lockyer (1886-1984) shares the following on “Nameless Bible Women”:

“While there is a good deal of fascination in an understanding of the majority of named women of the Bible, its nameless women, many of whom hold a conspicuous place in sacred history, are often neglected by many writers of female biography. A somewhat baffling question is: ‘Why are these women associated with well-known men, and with outstanding events not named? What is the reason behind their anonymity?’ . . . .

There is no satisfactory answer to the silence of Scripture regarding the identity of its nameless women. George Eliot [pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880] once remarked that, ‘The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.’ But many of the happy—and unhappy &—; unknown Bible women left their impact upon history. They played their part in important events, but their signatures are not attached to their service. Surely, it was not the oversight of Bible writers to omit the names of those in female biography whose deeds are published. . . .

Plutarch, the ancient Greek biographer, once said that he ‘would not write the lives of bad men,’ but the divine Author of the Bible saw fit to delineate, not only good men and good women, but likewise the bad and corrupt. If we want to know what human nature actually is in the ungodly or godly, all we have to do is to study the biographies the Bible revolves around.”7

II. Remember Gideon’s mother and her noxious idolatry. 

Judges 8:28, 32-33 reads, “Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted their heads no more. And the country was quiet for forty years in the days of Gideon. . . . Now Gideon the son of Joash died at a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. So it was, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel again played the harlot with the Baals, and made Baal-Berith their god.”

Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, founder of Walk Thru the Bible, writes, “The Old Testament is an excellent source for illustrating New Testament principles (1 Corinthians 10:11). For instance, a way to point out our culture’s moral degradation is to examine Baal worship. Such worship was characterized by temple prostitution, human mutilation, and human sacrifice. Sound familiar? Think of prostitution, abortion, and suicide.”8 1 Corinthians 10:11, 14-22 reads, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. . . . Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” Numbers 22:41 reads, “So it was, the next day, that Balak took Balaam and brought him up to the high places of Baal, that from there he might observe the extent of the people.” 1 Kings 16:30-33 reads, “Now Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.” Ahab allowed his wife, Jezebel, to lead him and the people worship pagan fertility gods known as Baal and Asherah. Baal worship involves lewd and lascivious practices of “sacred” prostitution in the temples. Immorality follows idolatry like night follows day.

What if you have pagan parents? Exodus 20:12 reads, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 reads, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’” In Romans 1:30 and 2 Timothy 3:2 we find the phrase, “disobedient to parents”. Acts 5:29 reads, “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” While this verse speaks specifically to civil disobedience, in principle it speaks to parental disobedience. In either case, this disobedience is not marked by dishonor or disrespect. Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

Judges 6:25-32 reads, “Now it came to pass the same night that the Lord said to him, ‘Take your father’s young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it; and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement, and take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image which you shall cut down.’ So Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father’s household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night. And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, there was the altar of Baal, torn down; and the wooden image that was beside it was cut down, and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built. So they said to one another, ‘Who has done this thing?’ And when they had inquired and asked, they said, ‘Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.’ Then the men of the city said to Joash, ‘Bring out your son, that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the wooden image that was beside it.’ But Joash said to all who stood against him, ‘Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If he is a god, let him plead for himself, because his altar has been torn down!’ Therefore on that day he called him Jerubbaal, saying, ‘Let Baal plead against him, because he has torn down his altar.’” (Emphasis mine)

III. Remember Gideon’s mother and her new ideology.

Gideon’s mother learned from her son that Baal could not harm them and that Baal would not help them. Most likely Gideon's mother was converted as his father and others were. Joshua 24:15b reads, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Acts 16:31-34 reads, “So [Paul and Silas] said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Emphasis mine)

God brought deliverance from the Midianite oppressors for 40 years because of the obedience of Gideon. Well over a century ago the following appeared in the Albany Argus, a newspaper for Albany, New York: “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized during the lifetime of the opportunity.”9 Dr. Oscar L. Joseph (1873-1938) co-editor of The Expositor’s Bible with W. Robertson Nicoll (1851-1923), cited it in an article titled, “The Tide in the Affairs of Men.”10

William Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) character Brutus said the following:

There is a tide in the affairs of men,

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life

Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

On such a full sea are we now afloat,

And we must take the current when it serves

Or lose our ventures.11

Rev. George Albert Rogers (1814-1884), author of The Valour of Faith; or, The Gospel in the Life of Gideon, writes, “Mark, also, that Gideon’s obedience was eminently successful and strikingly rewarded. He was for God, and God was for him. The Lord made his way prosperous. Gideon’s ten servants did their work well. He was not left to do all the work himself. Doubtless they caught their master's spirit and zeal. It is astonishing how much influence for good or evil every master exercises over his own household. Eyes are upon him when he least suspects it. But Gideon was defended by one who of all others seemed pledged to oppose him. His father ceased to be an idolater that very night. Perhaps the bravery of his son, or his steady and consistent piety and zeal, convinced him of his sin, or perhaps the impotency of Baal to save himself was conclusive logic to his mind. Who can tell how many fathers and mothers in Israel, how many sons and daughters, relatives and friends, would be converted and saved, were Christian men and women as faithful to their God as was Gideon? You think to conciliate the world by concession, by connivance at their sinful principles and customs. Alas! your inconsistency only leads them to despise you. Be consistent, be uncompromising in serving the Lord; be courageous—obey God rather than man, and God will honour you, as he Has honoured many, and made them instruments in winning father and mother, brothers and sisters, to Christ.”12 (Emphasis mine)


Remember Gideon’s mother and her nameless identity.

Remember Gideon’s mother and her noxious idolatry.

Remember Gideon’s mother and her new ideology.

Andrew Gribble writes, “After all these years, legendary Alabama coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant's [1913-1983] ‘Have you called your mama today?’ commercial for South Central Bell Telephone Company continues to resonate with college football fans and beyond.”13 I know this is a tough day for a lot of folks. Some can’t call their mother; others can’t even recall their mother. Whether you can remember your mother or not, remember Gideon’s mother.

1Brainerd Baptist Commission, [Newsletter] Vol. 29, No. 18, Brainerd Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee, May 7, 1986. 

2A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6, ed. W. R. Powell (London: British History, 1973), 294-304. 

3The Essex Review: An Illustrated Quarterly of Everything of Permanent Interest in the County, ed. Edward A. Fitch, Vol. 4 (Chelmsford, England: Edmund Durrant, 1895), 214.

4The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell The Prophet Jeremiah, Chapters 1-30, Vol. 1, Homily on Jeremiah 22:18 by Rev. Samuel Conway, B.A. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1883), 506.

5Alfred Suckling, Selections from the Works of Sir John Suckling (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green & Longman, 1836), 290.

6Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven and Other Poems (New York, NY: Wiley and Putnam, 1845), 14-15.

7Herbert Lockyer, All the Women of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1967), 170-171.

8Bruce Wilkinson, Almost Every Answer for Practically Any Teacher, “For Fresh Repetition” (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1992), 150. 

9The American Friend, ed. Rufus M. Jones, Vol. 8, No. 39 (Philadelphia, PA: The American Friend Publishing Company, 1901), 930.

10The Epworth Herald, ed. Stephen J. Herben, Vol. 18, No. 12, August 17, 1907 (New York, NY: Cranston & Stowe, 1907), 290.

11William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3, Page 11.  

12George Albert Rogers, The Valour of Faith; or, The Gospel in the Life of Gideon (London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt, 1859), 72-73.

13Andrew Gribble, “On Mother's Day, a look back at Bear Bryant's ‘Have you called your mama today?’ commercial (video)”, Accessed: 04/21/16  .

Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Don’t Miss the Revival! Messages for Revival and Spiritual Awakening from Isaiah and

Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice [Both available on in hardcover, paperback and eBook] & /   / (251) 626-6210

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