I substitute-taught Sunday school this morning for the 1st-3rd grade class. (We missed you Rach!) The lesson was about Gideon. In preparing for the lesson, I was thinking about how we often condemn Gideon for his lack of faith. He had to be reassured over and over that God was really with him. First, he required the sign of the burnt offering from the Angel of the Lord. Then, we wanted the two different versions of the sign of the fleece. Finally (in next week's lesson!) he had to go down and eavesdrop in the Midionite camp to be reassured that God was working. All in all, not a very faith-filled guy. However, God didn't condemn him for a lack of faith; God was very patient with him. And, Gideon was even included in the "Hall of Faith."
I think one of the reasons behind this lies in where Gideon was coming from. He lived in a nominally "Yawehistic" culture. People still talked about God, but included Him in a pantheon of other gods which most notably included Baal and Ashteroth. Gideon himself, upon first meeting the Angel of the Lord, confirmed that all he really knew about God were the stories that "our fathers told us about." So, considering the lack of revelation Gideon had, maybe his lack of faith is more understandable. However, since we hold the complete cannon of Scripture in our hands, we have little excuse for not believing God. We know who God is and we can be convinced of what He can and will do. After all, "faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1 NIV).