Applying the scriptures: battles won by 'men of quality'

"Gideon, mighty man of ancient Israel, was called to rescue his people from a seven-year oppression by the Midianites and associated people," said Elder John A. Widtsoe in his October 1950 general conference address. "He raised an army of 32,000 men to fight the enemy. But in those days, as in ours, battles were won not by numbers but by men of quality. So he was commanded to proclaim:

" `Whosoever is fearful and afraid let him return. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand. . . . ' (Judges 7:3)"It was a high percentage. It is probably as high in the world today. Nevertheless Gideon's army was stronger because the faithful ones were left. Fear never fails to lead a man or a group of people to weakness and to ultimate failure.

"The fears of man are legion. They float to the surface from submerged corners in our consciousness. They are often the products of our imagination."

Elder Widtsoe said when Gideon of old was left with only 10,000 unafraid men, other tests were given this remainder of his once-large army. "Gideon could take no chances," Elder Widtsoe said. "The cause, the freedom of his people, was too great. So he watched his men.

"When the army, marching in the heat of the day, crossed a creek, some loitered, took their time, lay down to drink; others, however, only three hundred of the ten thousand, eager to meet the enemy could not wait; they merely cupped their hands and drank as they marched hurriedly along. They caused no delay. These three hundred became Gideon's army; the others were sent home. With these three hundred Gideon won glorious victories.

"With such men, in any day, every fear vanishes."

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