God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ who promised rest to all who came unto him (Matthew 11:28).
There is a particularly interesting phrase in Judges 8:4 that caught my attention. When describing Gideon and his 300 men who crossed Jordan in pursuit of their enemies, it records that they were “Faint, yet pursuing. . . .” What an interesting description. What mind pictures it provokes. The enemy was being routed, but in order to finish the job, Gideon’s little army, exhausted as they were, eagerly continued pursuit. God had delivered the Midianites into their hands, but to complete their overthrow Gideon pursued those who had escaped across the Jordan. They eventually overtook them on the eastern boundary of Gilead and smote them there.
Their fortitude, disregard of ease, and devotion to what they were engaged in was indeed noteworthy. Their sense of duty was noble. Smelling victory and tasting success, they were highly motivated to finish the course. They were willing to forego the usual eating and sleeping schedule in order to press the battle to completion. The victory had been won, but there were some loose ends that needed to be tied-up.
Some versions more modern than the KJV translates the phrase, “exhausted yet pursuing” or “weary yet pursuing.” The Hebrew word for “faint” is ayeph, meaning “faint,” “weary,” or “exhausted.” We find its first two uses in Genesis 25 where Esau sold his birthright to Jacob because he fainted, ayeph.
And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint [ayeph]: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.
Esau gave in to his weariness. So little did he esteem his birthright that he traded it for a meal. Physical needs can indeed be powerful, but they must not get the upper-hand. They must be bridled and properly addressed. Sometimes they must be delayed in order to fulfill other responsibilities. We must trust God to supply when the time is right. Isaiah encourages us to wait upon the lord and renew our strength. Although ayeph is not used in Isaiah 40:31 two synonyms for it are.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary [yaga]; and they shall walk, and not faint [yaeph].
There are times in our lives when we need Gideon’s mentality. Sometimes we, too, are exhausted but still in pursuit with victory in sight, the enemy is on the run, and a few extra hours are needed to wrap things up. At those times we must push on and diligently pursue until the work is complete. We can’t completely disregard our proper rest and nourishment, but there are times when the need so requires. Then we go into God-gear and renew our strength.
“Faint, yet pursuing” does reveal how the thrill of conquest, the assurance of victory, and the joy of knowing we are winning in the contest against our enemy will spur us on. Those times are important to recognize, for if we don’t, we’ll never completely subdue our enemies. We can renew our strength as we wait upon the Lord and finish his work as the occasion requires (John 4:34).