Hebrews 11:32
And what more shall I say? Time will not allow me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets,
Sermons
A Summary of the Sufferings and Trials of BelieversD. Young Hebrews 11:32-38
A Bevy of HeroesH. Thorne.Hebrews 11:32-40
Barak's Name, Infirmities, and VirtuesW. Gouge.Hebrews 11:32-40
Faith a Arc De TriompheC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 11:32-40
Faith Victorious by the Prospect of Future BlessingC. New.Hebrews 11:32-40
Gideon's ExcellenciesW. Gouge.Hebrews 11:32-40
Illustrations of FaithE. Monro.Hebrews 11:32-40
Importance of Noble LivingJ. R. Macduff.Hebrews 11:32-40
Jephthah's ExcellenciesW. Gouge.Hebrews 11:32-40
Samson's FaithR . A. Hallam, D. D.Hebrews 11:32-40
The Faith of BarakFamily ChurchmanHebrews 11:32-40
The Heroes of FaithW. Stevenson, M. A.Hebrews 11:32-40
The Moral Meaning of Human HistoryHomilistHebrews 11:32-40
The Nobility of Samson's CharacterProf. W. G. Elmslie.Hebrews 11:32-40
Troubles Made BeautifulJ. Dallas.Hebrews 11:32-40


Note -

I. HOW THIS WRITER SPEAKS FROM FULLNESS OF KNOWLEDGE. AS one might think, he has already been tolerably copious, but he hints that there is really much more to tell. He has looked through all the records of God's people, and he finds faith everywhere. Thus has been produced in his mind a strong conviction of what man can do when he believes in the right way. And might we not attain to a similar fullness of knowledge? Reading ecclesiastical history, in the widest sense of the term, we should see how much stronger is the man of simple faith than the man of this world, with all his resources and ingenuity. As knowledge and experience of the right things grow, so must convictions with respect to them deepen.

II. HOW HE CLASSIFIES THE EXAMPLES OF FAITH. He shows us faith active and passive - what it can do and what it can bear. By his function the prophet had to be a man of action, and as the result of his action he had also to be a man of suffering. God sent him out to do special deeds - deeds beyond ordinary resources - and then he had also to make ready for sufferings out of the ordinary way. He who would do great things in the sight of God must be ready also to suffer great things. Live on the level of the world, and you may escape much in the way of toil and strain; but try to achieve the things which Christ sets before you, and then you will find you must not only have strong hands, but a brave and patient heart.

III. THERE IS PLENTY OF WORK FOR FAITH YET TO DO. There are kingdoms to be overcome, not by physical force, not by disciplined armies, but by those who, having yielded first of all to truth, know its claims and its power, and believe in persistent pressing of that truth on others. Righteousness has to be worked out, promises have to be appropriated; and if we would inherit the promises, we must accept the conditions of faith and patience. Our faith can achieve great things, and therefore great things are set before it. The faith of a simple, humble Christian has far greater things within its reach than anything to be attained by the unaided human intellect even at its best.

IV. SIMILARLY THERE IS PLENTY OF TRIAL FOR FAITH YET TO ENDURE. The more there is to be done, the more there is to be suffered. Ingenious torments and cruel deaths there may not be, but the spirit of the world is unchanging. Let a man persevere as seeing the invisible one, and he will have to suffer. He may not be stoned, but he will be pelted with the sneers of thoughtless and ignorant men. Those who through mere self-respect would refrain from a blow with the fist yet delight in the most cutting words. - Y.







And what shall I more say?
I. HEROIC NAMES (ver. 32). The men of faith. Six names are given. Some of them are names that few would have selected to occupy such a position as is here assigned to them. Note in this list —(1) A disregard of chronological order. Gideon is put before Barak, and Samson before Jephthah. There will be a Divine re-arrangement of the order of all names soon, and "there are first which shall be last" (Luke 13:30).(2) The men of pious parentage. Samson's father and mother appear to have feared God (Judges 13.), Jesse, David's father, was, we may well believe, a godly man (1 Samuel 16:1-3), and the mother of Samuel was a woman of prayer (1 Samuel 2:1). Samson's strength, David's piety, and Samuel's wisdom were doubtless begotten in answer to prayers of faith presented by their revered progenitors (cf. 2 Timothy 1:5).(3) Heroes from the ranks of the lowly. Gideon was an agricultural labourer (Judges 6:11), David a shepherd lad (1 Samuel 17:34), and Samuel a servitor in the Temple of God (1 Samuel 3:1), but all were exalted to honour. Some of the grandest revelations of God have been made to the humblest of men (cf. Luke 2:8, 9, and Matthew 11:25).(4) The dignity of faith springing from the dust of shame. Jephthah was the son of a harlot, but he came to be a judge in Israel (Judges 11:1; Romans 5:20).(5) Faith conspicuous in men of conspicuous failings. Gideon put an "if" against the solemn promise of God (Judges 6:36). Barak trusted too much to Deborah (Judges 4:9). Samson was bound by the wiles of Delilah (Judges 16:16, 17). Jephthah sinned in making a rash vow, and added to his folly by observing it (Judges 10:30, 31, 39). David was guilty of murder and adultery (2 Samuel 12:9), Samuel failed to correct his sons (1 Samuel 3:13). They fell, but rose again, and " all died in faith." We should be patient with the erring, and though we have erred ourselves we should not despair. For illustrations of the faith of these men see Barak in pursuit (Judges 4:16), Gideon giving glory to God (Judges 7:15), Samson acknowledging the help of God (Judges 15:18), Jephthah realising dependence upon God (Judges 11:9), David expressing confidence in God (1 Samuel 17:37), and Samuel rehearsing the goodness of God (1 Samuel 12.).

II. HEROIC DEEDS (vers. 33-35). Faith often finds utterance in words (2 Corinthians 4:13), but most frequently in acts. See here faith on the battle-field ("kingdoms" — cf. "world," 1 John 5:4; "flesh," Galatians 2:20; "devil," 1 Peter 5:9); in the workshop ("wrought" — cf. Mark 14:6); taking hold of God's word ("obtained," Greek, ἐπιτυχάνω, to happen or come upon); in the lion's den (Daniel 6:21, 22); in the furnace (Daniel 3:25) eluding violence ("escaped", Greek, φεύγω, to flee. Faith is prudent to avoid danger 1 Samuel 19:18; Genesis 39:12); recruiting strength (Samson was weak but was "made strong," Judges 16:28-30); routing foes (note the alliance of valour and victory), and raising the dead (2 Kings 4:35).

III. HEROIC ENDURANCE (vers. 35-38). See here —

1. The world's estimate of its best friends (cf. 1 John 3:13).

2. The believer's refusal of the world's help ("not accepting").

3. The world's unworthiness of the believer's mission ("not worthy").

4. The believer sustained by the hope of a future world ("better resurrection").

5. The coming union of all believers in that world (vers. 39, 40).

(H. Thorne.)

Homilist.
I. THE INHUMANITY OF MAN TO MAN. Man's cruelty argues —

1. His unnaturalness.

2. His need of the gospel.

II. THE FORCE OF FAITH IN HUMAN LIFE.

1. Power to conquer enemies.

2. Power to work out the right.

3. Power to realise the invisible.

4. Power to endure the overwhelming.

III. THE CHARITY OF HEAVEN IN ITS TREATMENT OF CHARACTER. Not a man mentioned in this paragraph was perfect. Falsehood, adultery, greed, cruelty, profanity, attached to most of them; to some in a pre-eminent degree, Yet here is no mention of their sins; they are put among the saints, canonised in the roll of heaven's illustrious heroes. The Great Father is more charitable in His treatment of human character than men in treatment of each other.

IV. THE UNWORTHINESS OF THE WORLD AS A SCENE FOR TRUE HEROES.

1. The world's ideas of true heroes.

2. God's idea of the worthiness of the world.

(Homilist.)

I. THE FAITH OF OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS, AND ITS IMPERFECT REWARDS.

1. This faith was the secret of most wonderful victories (vers. 32-38).

2. This was inspired by the promise of certain future blessings. "The promise."

3. They did not receive those blessings in this life. Their faith was rewarded here in the victories it secured, but its great reward was unbestowed when their earthly course ended. So with faith always; its best blessings are to come.

II. THE FAITH OF NEW TESTAMENT SAINTS, AND ITS MORE PERFECT HELP,

1. a contrast. "God having provided some better thing for us." Then what should not our faith accomplish!

2. A resemblance. The object of our faith, like theirs, is still future.

III. THE FAITH OF OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT SAINTS IN ITS PERFECT CONSUMMATION.

1. The present imperfection of the saints in heaven.

2. Their perfection and ours is to be simultaneous.

3. The present waiting of the redeemed in glory must then involve profound interest in the affairs of earth.

(C. New.)

1. Has your faith "subdued kingdoms"? Here is the subduing power of faith declared. If final judgment were to-night, is your heart subdued? I do not mean, is the inclination for sin no longer existing? but I mean, are you able to overcome it by God's grace?

2. Have you by faith "wrought righteousness"? Behold the man without faith working; he "works all uncleanness with greediness"; he works for self and despises the command of God.

3. Has your faith "obtained promises"? The Lord Jesus Christ, before He left this world, at the ascension, left us certain promises, which on certain conditions we should obtain. If we abide in Him that we should bring forth fruit. Do you do it? If we pray that we should receive the gift of the Spirit. Do you receive it? If we love Him that we should have peace. Have you peace? If we serve Him that we should be hated by the world. Are you hated by it?

4. Have you " stopped the mouths of lions"? The devil is "the roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour," and when we stand before God to be judged, the devil will be there to accuse us, and to bring against us the charge of every sin we have committed at his instigation.

5. Have yon" quenched the violence of fire"? There is a fire now preparing for the lost in which Satan and his angels are making ready an abode for their miserable victims. None shall be able to quench its violence and escape its fury save those who have lived by faith. Have you thought of that fire, feared it, shunned it? If not, you are not prepared to meet the Judge.

6. "Out of weakness were made strong." Have you been weak and are now strong? Faith gives strength to every feeling and principle in us.

7. Has your faith led you to bear the trial of "cruel mockings"?There are many mockings we meet with from the world if we live by faith.

1. There is the open opposition, an unbridled, undisguised hatred of the world, more exactly " cruel mockings," which led men in times of yore to drive families from their quiet homes.

2. There is the "cruel mocking," more difficult, perhaps, to bear, and which we are more called to bear — the silent and significant remarks made in a general way, yet intended personally; the mocking of sacred and holy subjects in our presence, when we know it is intended for and directed at ourselves; the laugh of open ridicule, or the smile of half-concealed contempt; the attacks on the faults and inconsistencies of religious characters, which we well know to be intended for our own.

(E. Monro.)

Mark the characteristics of that faith, in virtue of which the writer brings together these honoured names, and by the power of which they were enabled to be God's instruments and deputies in carrying forward on the earth His great purposes of salvation. There are certain marks common to their faith, which will be found also to characterise those who have succeeded them in New Testament times.

I. The first is, that THEIR FAITH IS IN A LIVING GOD — a true believing that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. That is no very distinguishing characteristic, you may think; most men believe in God. Most men profess to believe in Him, but in how many does their conduct show that the profession is worth much? They believe in forms of words, in current opinion, in worldly maxims, in the conventions of society, in the fashions of the church; but genuine faith in a living God, whose righteous laws ought to be obeyed, whose promises are true and ought to be acted on, whose loving care guards and guides their lives, so that they have only to do His will and fear no evil — that is a Tare thing yet, and makes men more or less strange where it is seen. It was found in all these heroes of faith, so that they had strength and courage to do the will of God, when it seemed not only difficult, but utterly impossible.

II. A second characteristic of the faith of these heroes is that ITS GOAL IS IN THE FUTURE, its eye is fixed on the invisible. They felt the evil of the present state, its disorder, its degradation, its wrong, its misery; but they knew by the vision of faith that this visible world is girt about with the invisible, that there is a higher order of things, a kingdom of truth, of righteousness, of peace, of purity above, and that its powers and laws shall yet penetrate and rule this earth, and the kingdom of God be established among men. And though the promises, whose fulfilment bounded the horizon of pre-Christian believers, have now been accomplished, and faith has now that fulfilment to rest upon, it still looks forward to the future, to promises yet to be fulfilled of a better day and a better kingdom. But still it confidently lays hold of the invisible, and works towards an end which seems a mere will-o'-the-wisp in the judgment of ordinary men.

III. Again, the faith of these true heroes is marked by INSIGHT INTO PRESENT NEEDS AND DUTIES. Faith has a prophetic glance. Discerning God and God's holy order, it has an understanding of the times and the seasons, knows when to cast in the seed, and to put in the sickle, sees the fruit in the flower, and the great tree in the little germ. Hence the wonderful variety, for instance, in the work of these leaders of faith recorded in this chapter. They were not guided by custom, nor ruled merely by traditions of the past, but holding and living by the truth already given, they were led into fresh applications of it. The new time brought its new duties, and they obeyed God's call to face them; it disclosed fresh light, and they dared to open their eyes to let it in.

(W. Stevenson, M. A.)

In the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul erects a triumphal arch to the honour of faith. It did not require much labour to make a selection of brave deeds to be engraven upon the monument; for faith's prowess has been shown in so many fields, and it has wrought such varied marvels, that when long lists of its deeds are mentioned far more are left. Time would fail to tell of the achievements of faith, but its record will never come to an end for lack of matter. It is somewhat striking that no such trophy has ever been raised to unbelief! None such could be raised, for it has done nothing worthy of remembrance. Subduing kingdoms, working righteousness, stopping the mouths of lions, and so forth, are quite out of its line, and it knows nothing of "a better resurrection." But it might have tried its hand at founding hospitals, erecting orphanages, and other ordinary fruits of a belief in Christianity. Why has it not done so? It is altogether negative, destructive, sterile; and is therefore by no means the principle upon which to build a life if a man designs to make it useful and honourable. Show us the value of your scepticism by its purifying influence upon the characters of sceptics, and the fruitfulness of atheism by the beneficence which has proceeded from its constraint, and we will consider the matter. But as yet we question whether any one of the human race was ever raised to anything noble, spiritual, or unselfish by the force of unbelief. The doubt which is nowadays cried up with as much noise as that of the craftsmen of Demetrius when they shouted for the space of two hours, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians," is a dead idol as far as any working out of good is concerned. Be it ours to be actuated by a principle tried and proved in all ages by the saintly and the heroic. Let those who prefer it choose to doubt; be it ours to believe. No man has ever had the hardihood to preach " Doubt and live"; but "Believe and live" is the essence of the message from heaven.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Life and not death is the all-important part of human history. We test the strength of the vessel not by the way in which she entered the sheltered harbour but by how she wrestled with the storm out in the defenceless ocean. We estimate the prowess of the warrior, not as he returns at the close of conflict, weak and weary, but as he bore himself up amid the fray, in the heat of battle. It is the opening and middle chapters of a man's biography that are the momentous ones, and which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, determine the character of the closing scene.

(J. R. Macduff.)

Most of the shells of the oyster are pearly in the interior; and as the true pearls are merely morbid growths, they may all produce pearls of various qualities. The formation of pearls is caused by the introduction of irritating substances, such as grain of sand, between the mantle and the shell. The irritation causes the animal to cover the obnoxious objects with layers of pearl, which generally attach the foreign body to the interior of the shell. The Chinese produce pearls artificially by placing substances in the position just described; and we have seen some shells, to the interior of which small metal images were attached in this manner by the pearly secretion. When we look at a pearl we look at an annoyance which has been ennobled. The oyster by itself is of merely nominal value. But the result of the oyster's own treatment of its irritations in this world — the pearl — is something "of great price." Apart from its pecuniary worth, this gem has a moral significance. It suggests that troubles may be made beautiful, and reminds us that amongst mankind some martyrs are more remembered by the glory with which they invested their sorrows than by any other portion of their lives. Biography has its moral pearls, which are treasured long after the creators of them have perished, just as material pearls are valued long years after the oysters have been discarded.

(J. Dallas.)

Gideon.
The excellencies noted of Gideon m his history are these:

1. His providence in time of extremity (Judges 6:11). The point of providence is commended in Joseph (Genesis 41:48), and pressed by the wise man (Proverbs 6:8).

2. His valour (Judges 6:12). It is of excellent use for the managing of weighty works.

3. His acknowledgment of God to be the disposer of all (Judges 6:13).

4. His humble, lowly mind (Judges 6:15).

5. His desire to have his faith strengthened in God's promise (Judges 6:17).

6. His gratitude to him that brought him the glad tidings of his delivering Israel (Judges 6:18).

7. His liberal hospitality (Judges 6:19).

8. His fear and trembling at God's presence (Judges 6:22).

9. His piety towards God, manifested both by building an altar to God (which was in those days a solemn rite of worshipping God thereby), and also by the name he gave to the altar.

10. His obedience to God's charge, and that both in the general substance, and particular circumstances thereof (Judges 6:27, 28).

11. His prudence in making preparation for that work whereunto God had called him (Judges 6:34, 35). This care of preparing means may well stand with true faith: yea, it is a fruit thereof,

12. His care to encourage others to that whereof himself was confident (Judges 7:15).

13. His care to raise up the hearts of his soldiers to God (Judges 7:18).

14. His meek spirit, and soft answer, whereby he pacified the furious rage of the Ephraimites (Judges 8:1-3).

15. His constancy in pursuing a victory well begun (Judges 8:4, 11, 12).

16. His care to refresh his soldiers, weary with pursuing their enemies (Judges 8:5, 8). Jonathan doth set out the benefit hereof (1 Samuel 14:27).

17. His just revenge on the inhuman, and scornful men of Succoth and Penuel (Judges 8:15, dec.).

18. His modesty in refusing that honour which the people would have conferred upon him (Judges 8:23). How few are of that mind?

19. His care to preserve peace after he had got full conquest upon his enemies; for it is noted, that after the conquest the country was in quietness all his days (Judges 18:28). This is the most proper end of war.

20. His contentedness with his own private means (Judges 8:29). In which respect he is said to dwell in his own house. The principal observation concerning Gideon's faith is, that it made him with three hundred unarmed men, upon God's command, set upon an army of many thousands (Judges 7:7). So as faith resteth on God with small means as confidently as with great (1 Samuel 14:6; 2 Chronicles 14:11).

(W. Gouge.)

Barak
Family Churchman.
I. THERE WAS FAITH IN ONE OF SO OBSCURE POSITION UNDERTAKING THE LEADERSHIP OF THE HOST OF ISRAEL. We read nothing of him previously, and after his service was rendered he seemed to have retired into the obscurity out of which he had emerged. It was not self-confidence or ambition that brought him forward, it was faith in the summons of Jehovah.

II. THERE WAS FAITH IN HIS OBEYING THE VOICE OF THE LORD'S PROPHETESS. Deborah, whether sitting under her palm-tree to administer justice, or standing upon the heights of Tabor, and giving the word of command to the warriors of the north, or singing praises to the Lord for the avenging of Israel, is a grand poetic figure. And it was Barak's faith that discerned, in this woman's voice the voice of the Lord that led him to exclaim, "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go."

III. THERE WAS FAITH IN HIS DISREGARD FOR HIS OWN FAME. Deborah warned him that, though the devotion, the daring, the danger were his, he should not have the honour of Sisera's death, which should be the work of a woman. It is the part of selfishness to toil, to fight, to suffer, for honour and applause. Faith rises above such motive, loses self in duty, in obedience to God.

IV. THERE WAS FAITH IN HIS ATTACKING A FORMIDABLE FOE IN THE NAME AND WITH THE HELP OF THE LORD. Had Barak thought of the mighty army of the Canaanites, and their nine hundred chariots, his heart might well have failed him. But when he heard the appeal of Deborah: "Is not the Lord gone out before thee?" his courage rose, and he put to flight the armies of the aliens.

V. THERE WAS FAITH IN HIS ASCRIPTION OF VICTORY TO THE GOD OF HOSTS. He "rehearsed the righteous acts of the Lord," who had "made him have dominion over the mighty."

(Family Churchman.)

1. Barak's name signifies lightning (Ezekiel 1:13). He was a terrible lightning to Sisera, and his host. He was chosen general against the army of Jabin, king of Canaan, who had oppressed Israel twenty years (Judges 4:2, 3).

2. One infirmity is noted of him which was this, that being called of God he refused to go except Deborah went with him (Judges 4:8). This showed both diffidence in God's power and truth, and also disobedience to God's charge. But it seemeth that these came rather from the weakness of his flesh than from the obstinancy of his disposition. For he quickly recovered himself.

3. His virtues were these:(1) Prudence, in preparing an army out of those among whom he dwelt, and whom he might best command, and in whom he might best confide.(2) Obedience, in ordering matters according to the charge given unto him.(3) Courage, in setting upon a huge host well prepared, with so few as he did.(4) Constancy, in pursuing the victory.(5) Piety, in returning the praise to God.

4. In Barak's example we have a proof that such as are weak in faith may become strong.

(W. Gouge.)

Samson
Whether the faith attributed to Samson was a faith that purified and saved his soul, or only a faith that made him an efficient and conspicuous actor in the Church's external history, is a question not easy to solve. Faith is an element of power sometimes where it is not saving. Any strong persuasion, any earnest belief, nerves the heart and strengthens the arm; and thus a deep and firm conviction may make a mighty and effective actor of one on whose character it exerts no salutary influence. The Crusaders are a striking instance of the power of a belief to produce labour and self-denial in men for an end, while yet they remain full of worldly passion, and are carried by it into gross crimes and excesses. They were not holy men because they went to a holy war, and were actuated by a lively and energetic faith in the object it contemplated, even though that faith was one which filled them with a certain sort of religious zeal and enthusiasm. Perhaps Samson's faith was of this sort.

(R . A. Hallam, D. D.)

I am astonished at those rationalistic critics who mock at the story of Samson, and ridicule it as base and ignoble. If it was such a poor and vulgar affair, how came it that he occupies a place among the saints and sages of the Old Testament, and that his story is preserved while so much else is thrown aside? And how was it that every Hebrew was proud of Samson, and that he was loved more than all the other judges? Ah there must have been something grand and noble in the man, we feel his strange attractiveness. He was such a real man; his wit, humour, irony, his very sins and weaknesses bring him near to us. Remember how, when the Philistines demanded him, and the men of Judah made the cowardly proposition that he should give himself up to save their property from being plundered, the big-souled man replies, "Yes; make me your sacrifice." There is a touch of Samson's nobility.

(Prof. W. G. Elmslie.)

Jephthae
1. His valour (Judges 11:1). That phrase implieth that he was a man of a strong body and courageous mind.

2. His improvement of his valour against enemies (though he were disgracefully thrust out by his countrymen), as is implied in this phrase, "Went out" (Judges 11:3).

3. His care of others like himself. "He went out with them that were gathered to him;' (Judges 11:3), so dealt David with his (1 Samuel 22:1, 2).

4. His providence in securing himself and his country for the future, which was manifested by binding them to make him their head (Judges 11:9-11), so long as he was head he had power to order matters; and he was privy to his own purpose and the integrity thereof.

5. His fear dealing with his enemies (Judges 11:12, 13, &c.). He expostulates their wrongs; he adviseth them to desist; he manifesteth the equity and necessity of the engagements.

(W. Gouge.)

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