Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, and Samuel

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets.”

(Hebrews 11:32)

Believers are not all the same. We all have the same faith. We all have the same hope. We all have the same redemption, the same righteousness, the same heaven, and the same promises of grace to sustain us along the way. Still we are not the same. Paul could not have given us six names that more clearly reflect the great diversity there is among God’s people than those given in this verse. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae, David, and Samuel were all men who believed and served God; but they were unique individuals.

A Question

This passage begins with a question. —“And what more shall I say?” Need he add more examples of faith? Need he say anything more to prove the necessity and effectiveness of faith in Christ? He admits that he does not have the space or time to do it, “For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets.”

We might wish he had written several more chapters on faith. But he has made his point without being redundant. Faith in the Christ satisfies believers through the ages, cultures, circumstances, and personalities represented in human history.

Great Diversity

Yet, the six examples here used by the Spirit of God to exemplify faith in Christ show us that true believers are people of great diversity with varying personalities. God does not stamp us out with a cookie cutter, making us all alike. Each of us is dealt with personally by the Lord, and individually shaped in the image of Christ. Each experiences the providential working of God in his life, tailored to affect every detail to bring the whole of his existence into conformity with Christ and to the glory of God.

Four of these men are identified in the book of Judges during a period when “every man did what was right in his own eyes,” and faith appeared to be almost non-existent. David and Samuel appear in the book of 1 Samuel, with David following in many other portions of Scripture. As we have seen, Paul picked these names somewhat randomly rather than chronologically. They are paired out of order. His purpose was not to chronicle their acts of faith but to give us a broad display of those who believe God. In doing this, he assures us of the legitimacy of our own faith, though it is housed in the weakness of our personalities.

Weakness and Sin

All believers face the fact that they are weak and sinful, always weak and sinful. This we acknowledge before God (1 John 1:7-10). Yet, nothing causes us more pain and difficulty. Our faith is never perfect. Far from it; it is always marred by our unbelief. The men here set before us as examples of faith were no different. They all had defects in their faith.

·         Gideon was slow to take up arms against God’s enemies, slow to obey the revealed will of God. He did conquer the massive Midianite army with his 300 men, but was slow to take action.

·         Barak hesitated and went forward only when Deborah encouraged him. He did lead the charge against the army of Sisera, the Canaanite commander, but he refused to lead without Deborah the prophetess at his side. He was a man of faith, but a man with such shameful weakness that he had to be led by a woman into battle.

·         Samson was enticed by Delilah. He was a remarkable man and did great things. Yet Samson was a man of great weakness, whose life is shrouded under a cloud of great sin.

·         Jephthah made a rash vow. He is to be commended for much. He was a man of remarkable character; but his rash vow was terribly costly to him, his daughter, and his family.

·         Samuel was a great prophet and a mighty judge in Israel. He was a man who seemed to know no fear, because he believed God. Yet, he was fearful and hesitant in anointing David as king, because Saul might kill him.

·         David was a man after God’s own heart. What a remarkable man of faith he was! Yet, his name is always linked with great shame because of the matter of Bathsheba and Uriah. In shameful pride, he numbered Israel, ignoring God’s law. He even got mad at God for killing Uzza, when he put his hand to the ark of God.


Not Faith But Christ

“In every saint there is always to be found something reprehensible. Nevertheless, although faith may be imperfect and incomplete, it does not cease to be approved by God.” (John Calvin)

It is not the perfection of our faith that God honors, but the perfection of its Object. God approves faith even when it is displayed through the weakness of flawed personalities, because faith looks to Christ. It is not our faith that gives us acceptance with God, but Christ, the Object of our faith.