Gideon Defeats the Midianites
An assembly in the 'Hello, Scruff!' series
by the Revd Sylvia Burgoyne
Suitable for Reception / Key Stage 1 - Church Schools
To explore the idea that God only needs a few obedient people to achieve great things.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a pack of flash cards of times tables.
- Familiarize yourself with the Bible story in the passage Judges 7, which is about when Gideon defeated the Midianites by taking God's advice.
- You will also need a glove puppet or sock puppet of a donkey called Scruff.
- As the assembly begins, ensure that you already have Scruff the puppet on your hand.
Scruff waves to the children. Encourage them to say, ‘Hello, Scruff!’It was Friday teatime and, usually when Lucy Jane came home from school, she would run across to the stable to see Scruff with a big smile on her face. 'No school for two days. Hurrah! What shall we do, Scruff?'
If this is the first time the children have met Scruff, you will need to use the following introduction.
Scruff lives on a farm with Lucy Jane, her mum, Mrs B, her dad, Farmer Brown, and her baby brother, Tom. Lucy Jane loves Scruff. She looks after him. She plays with him and she talks to him – when she’s happy and when she’s sad. Scruff is her best friend!
Not tonight, though. She was really down in the dumps. 'The teacher tested us on our times tables this morning and I got lots of them wrong. I wasn’t the only one, but she told us we must learn them over the weekend and she’s going to give us another test on Monday. Mum says I can practise some after tea, so we won’t be able to go for a ride. Sorry, Scruff!' 'Hee-haw, hee-haw!' neighed Scruff quietly.
- By the morning, Lucy Jane had cheered up. Scruff stood by the picnic table in the farmyard and watched as Mrs B placed a pack of cards in the centre of the table. One by one, she showed them to Lucy Jane, who had to answer the sum. If she got it right, she kept the card, but if her answer was wrong, the card went back to the bottom of the pile.
Say to the children, 'We can play Lucy Jane’s game.' Use the times tables that the children know. The first child to give the right answer keeps the card. Keep the game short and snappy. After a little while, stop and say, ''Well done, everybody.'
'Well done, Lucy Jane!' her mum said when she had all the cards in front of her. Her mum was so pleased with her that she said they would now take a picnic to the beach. 'Hoorah!' shouted Lucy Jane. Scruff joined in of course, saying 'Hee-haw, hee-haw!'
Take off Scruff.
- Let's listen now to a story from the Bible that shows small numbers can do great things with God's help.
Gideon defeats the Midianites
Gideon was only young, but he was beginning to think that he was better at numbers than God.
God had asked him to fight the Midianites, so he had collected a large army of 32,000 men. You can imagine his surprise when God said, 'You have too many men for me to defeat the Midianites. Anyone who is frightened must go home!' Some 22,000 men were only too happy to leave.
How many stayed? Who can do this big sum?
32,000 - 22,000 = ?
God still wasn’t happy. 'There are still too many men. Take them down to the river for a drink and I will tell you who should go and who should stay.'
Gideon watched as 300 men lapped the water from their hands, looking around them all the time. The rest knelt down with their faces in the water. 'Send those men who are kneeling down back home', God said.
Do you know why? Who can do the next sum?
10,000 - 9,700 = ?
Now God was satisfied. 'With only 300 men, we will defeat the Midianites.'
Did Gideon believe him?
That night, God told Gideon to get up and go. Gideon thought of a very clever plan. He divided the 300 men into three groups.
Do you know how many were in each group?
He gave every man a torch, a trumpet and a glass jar.
'Follow me,' he said. 'When we reach the camp from three sides, my group will blow our trumpets, smash our jars on the ground and wave our torches around. Then you must do the same.'
What a terrifying noise filled the night as trumpets blew loudly, glass jars smashed and lights seemed to be coming from every direction. The Midianites woke up with a start and, because there was so much noise, they thought they were surrounded by thousands of men, not just a few hundred, so they ran away as fast as they could.
So, God helped Gideon to defeat the Midianites with only 300 carefully selected men.
Time for reflection
Are you facing something you have to do today that feels impossible?
Christians believe that God can help us with these big things.
Thank you for the story of Gideon, who showed us that only a small number of people can do something big with your help.
'One and two and three and four' (Come and Praise Beginning, 22)
'God is so great' (Come and Praise Beginning, 2)