UnderDog or UnderGod?

By Mike Domeny Judges 7:1–19, Judges 7:21–25

Actor Mike Domeny brings to life the battle of Gideon and his army of 300 from Judges 7.

Art Form
Scripture Performance
Headshot by
Michael Cinquino
Artist curated by
Matthew Moore


Judges 7:1–19

1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. 2 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3 Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. 4 And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. 5 So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. 6 And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7 And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. 8 So the people took victuals in their hand, and their trumpets: and he sent all the rest of Israel every man unto his tent, and retained those three hundred men: and the host of Midian was beneath him in the valley.

9 ¶ And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. 10 But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: 11 And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. 12 And the Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude. 13 And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host.

15 ¶ And it was so , when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.

16 And he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet in every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers. 17 And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that , as I do, so shall ye do. 18 When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD , and of Gideon.

19 ¶ So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands.

Judges 7:21–25

21 And they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. 22 And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the LORD set every man’s sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Beth-shittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abel-meholah, unto Tabbath.

23 And the men of Israel gathered themselves together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after the Midianites.

24 ¶ And Gideon sent messengers throughout all mount Ephraim, saying, Come down against the Midianites, and take before them the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. Then all the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and took the waters unto Beth-barah and Jordan. 25 And they took two princes of the Midianites, Oreb and Zeeb; and they slew Oreb upon the rock Oreb, and Zeeb they slew at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian, and brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon on the other side Jordan.

Mike Domeny

Mike Domeny

From the Artist
Facing an enemy army numbering 135,000, Gideon’s modest 32,000-warrior army was already an underdog story in the making. However, God looked at Gideon’s army and saw too much of a cushion. [...] Read More

Facing an enemy army numbering 135,000, Gideon’s modest 32,000-warrior army was already an underdog story in the making. However, God looked at Gideon’s army and saw too much of a cushion. An underdog story, after all, praises the gritty, “we can do this!” attitude of the underdog, and God didn’t want Israel to be able to take the credit for his victory.

And although God stacks the odds so against Israel’s favor that they can only be in His, we still see Gideon rally his troops with a declaration of God’s power and his own leadership. It leaves us with a twinge of thinking, “Gideon, why are you adding your name to the victory?” It’s a little uncomfortable, and it taints this otherwise empowering story.

We want to think of Old Testament heroes as juggernauts of godliness (Gideon is, afterall, featured in Hebrews 11’s “Hall of Faith”), but we have to wrestle with the reality that they, like us, are capable of great acts of faith, mixed with questionable choices that reveal their selfish, sin-bent humanity. This chapter of Gideon's story still ends in victory, but his downfall came soon after (see Judges 8).

God doesn’t want an underdog story. He wants an under-God story. Can you fulfill the mission God put on your life, while surrendering your desire to etch your name next to God’s in the record books?

Judges 7, New Living Translation


Mike Domeny is a speaker and performer who helps people engage with the Bible in a conversational, approachable way through short-form videos, online resources, and live presentations.

Mike founded Outloud Bible Project to help people recognize their role in the conversation of the Bible by reading the Bible out loud on screen and on stage. He is the author of Thrown off Script, which draws on his decade of professional improv experience to help readers recognize unexpected changes as opportunities to grow closer to Jesus. He co-founded The Grove: Kingdom Creativity Collective to nurture and equip creative Christians to pursue their God-given mission.

"Everything you need to live a fulfilling, impactful life can be found in the Bible."-Mike Domeny


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