The Golden Snare
After the stunning victory over the Midianites and their allies, the men of Israel strongly requested that Gideon rule over them, with his sons carrying the mantle of rulership after he died (Judges 8:22). The people thought Gideon deserved some excellent reward for delivering them from Midian, who had oppressed them heavily for the past seven years (Judges 6:1). The glorification of a man was precisely the outcome that God did not desire. God wanted the people to understand that He had delivered them and that nothing had been done by the might of any man (Judges 7:2).
When the men of Israel demanded Gideon begin a new dynasty of rulers over them, Gideon wisely refused. If Gideon were wiser, he would have directed them to let God rule them instead. Instead, he proceeded to make this request, in Judges 8:24:
“Yet Gideon said to them, ‘I would request of you, that each of you give me an earring from his spoil.’”
The people gladly complied, and according to Judges 8:27:
“Gideon made it into an ephod, and placed it in his city, Ophrah, and all Israel played the harlot with it there, so that it became a snare to Gideon and his household.”
Gideon should have done better. He knew the people were idolatrous; they had been serving Baal and the Asherah (Judges 6:25). Even knowing this, Gideon made them a thing riddled with gold and placed it in the city like a monument. He missed the opportunity to influence Israel to honor God and led them back into idolatry.
Just like Gideon, we each have opportunities to influence people. Your actions and words lead others. Lead them to God, and teach them to submit to His rulership.