The Fowler’s Snare Judges 8:27

It became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.—Jdg_8:27.

Gideon had led the people of Israel in a great battle and led them very successfully. Their enemies had been completely beaten and had fled, leaving a great many dead behind them. The Israelites were so delighted that they begged Gideon to be their king and rule over them, but he refused. But, as a reward for what he had done, he asked them to give him the gold earrings which they had taken from their defeated enemies. And he melted down the gold and made it into an ephod, a kind of image. Probably he did not think he was doing any harm, but rather good, in making a religious image. But the end of it all was that the people of Israel took to worshipping this image and “it became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house,” a trap that led them into idolatry.

Snares are often spoken of in the Bible. They were used for catching wild birds and small animals, and are used still. One kind of snare was a net kept open by a stick which sprang out when it was touched and left the bird in the net. Another was a wicker cage, the lid of which was propped open, and fell after the bird was in. Small birds like sparrows and linnets were caught by spreading sticky stuff, called bird-lime, on the branches of trees. A singing-bird was hung in a cage close by to attract the wild ones. These stuck to the lime and so were easily caught.

In some parts of the world the soul is thought to be a small creature like a bird, which may leave the body, fly away during sleep, and come back when the owner wakens. So in the islands of the South Sea there are sorcerers who believe they can catch the soul. They make snares of strong cord with loops of different sizes to suit the different kinds of souls. There are large loops for fat souls, and small loops for thin souls. These loops are set up near somebody’s house, and it is supposed that when the soul leaves, the body it may be caught in the snare; and if it is caught, it will be unable to get back, and its owner will die.

Now you cannot catch souls, like birds or butterflies, in a net; yet the soul has its snares and dangers, not made of loops of string, but just as real. If there is anything which the soul loves so much as to prevent it from loving God, that is its snare. It is caught in it like a fluttering bird that cannot soar up to heaven.

Many people have found money a snare. They cared more for money than for goodness. They gave all their hearts to getting more and more money. They could not bear to part with it even to do good, and at last their better self died, like a bird in a snare, and they became mere misers.

Many others have found amusement a snare, the kind of amusement, that is, that leads into bad company, and neglect of work, and the beginning of bad habits.

Then there is the snare of cowardice, the snare that makes us afraid to do right, because people may laugh at us. And there is the snare of the lips, the snare that catches us speaking words that are spiteful, or untrue, or angry, or profane.

With all these snares around it, how shall the soul escape? The Book of Psalms often speaks of the snares that are all around us, and the enemies that lie in wait, but this is what the Psalmist says about it—“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust. For he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler.” It is God alone who can save our souls from the net.