But many came. A crowd of volunteers came hurrying from farms and caves, bringing such weapons probably as they had been able to keep in hiding. They were willing to respond. It was a motley crowd, no doubt. There were thirty-two thousand of them. These four tribes had once numbered as many as one hundred and eighty-four thousand five hundred fighting men. And at another, later, enumeration they had two hundred and twelve thousand men of war age. Their numbers may be smaller now, though possibly not. It looks as though only a small minority of all had responded, maybe one in six or so.
These men had the first great qualification for service, they were willing. They were actively willing. They willed to come down to the front and help fight the enemy, and deliver their nation. It is a great quality this of being willing. That prophetic One Hundred and Tenth Psalm mentions this as the great characteristic of those who shall rally about God's King in a coming day of power. God reckons our service not by our ability but by our willingness.
Whatever is given out of a warm, willing heart is eagerly accepted by Him. The Hebrew tabernacle was constructed of free-will offerings. The people came willingly with their offerings and left them for Moses' use. Some brought gold and silver, some finely woven tapestries and silks. Here was one poor woman who wanted to give but had very little. So she went out to her little flock of goats whereby her living came to her, and cut off a big bunch of goat's hair, and then with much pains dyed it red.
And then one day she went up to where they were presenting their gifts and timidly laid her bunch of goat's hair on the pile of offerings, and quietly, quickly slipped away. It seemed very small on that pile of gold and silver and richly-colored weavings. But it was the gift of her heart. They had to have goat's hair as well as gold. And her offering was acceptable because it came from a willing heart. Willingness is a heart quality. It is the heart volunteering.
|Our wills are ours to make them Thine.|
This was the first test. Thirty-two thousand out of four tribes stood this test. Gideon's army had one great qualification at the start.