‘And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak’, Judg. 6. 11.
Biblical commentators suggest that there is some difficulty in determining the exact meaning of the words translated ‘oak’ in the Old Testament. Sometimes, evidently, the terebinth or elm is intended and, at others, the oak. However, there are a number of varieties of oak in Israel, and, along with the cedar, the oak tree is symbolic of strength and durability, 2 Sam. 18. 9; Ezek. 6. 13.
It is somewhat significant that in a time of Israel’s weakness the angel of the Lord should appear sitting under an oak. The man that he comes to, Gideon, is hardly the typical warriorleader of the people. He is threshing wheat ‘by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites’, the oppressors of his people, Judg. 6. 11. He says of himself, ‘my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house’, v. 15. He is hesitant, seeking a sign to verify the message that he receives, v. 17.
As he brings a meal back to the oak tree under which the angel of the Lord is sitting, he is brought to realize something of the symbolism. As the oak tree derives its strength from divine design, our strength should be derived from the same source - God. Israel’s greatest warrior-king, David, acknowledged, ‘God is my strength and power’, 2 Sam. 22. 33. Hence, says the angel of the Lord to Gideon, ‘The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour’, v. 12. It might not have been our assessment and it wasn’t Gideon’s self-assessment, but the angel did not address Gideon as the man he was then. Inrig, quoted by Constable, states, ‘One of the great truths of Scripture is that when God looks at us, He does not see us for what we are, but for what we can become, as He works in our lives’ (Expository Notes, e-Sword resource). Are we willing to let God mould and shape us to be something for Him?
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