ideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah—by Faith
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideonand Barak and Samson and Jephthah. (Hebrews 11:32a)
So much has been noted in these chronicles of faith concerning the extensive consequences that appear as faith accesses grace. As our present verse implies, days and pages seem too short to also relate the testimonies of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah-who many might view as “unlikely examples” of living by faith.
In Gideon, God called an unlikely leader as His instrument to deliver His people. His humble reply was, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel?… I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15). The Lord’s promise was, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites” (Judges 6:16). When 32,000 Israelites rallied for battle (Judges 7:3), God diminished Gideon’s army to an unimpressive, outnumbered 300. “Then the LORD said to Gideon, ‘By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you'” (Judges 7:7). Gideon went forth by faith, and the Lord was faithful to His word. “When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his companion… and the army fled” (Judges 7:22).
Again, in Barak, another unlikely leader was selected by the Lord. Lacking courage, he would not go forth to battle unless the prophetess Deborah accompanied him. “And Barak said to her, ‘If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go'” (Judges 4:8). Also, his godless opponent was actually defeated by another woman. “Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber…Then Jael…took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand…and drove the peg into his temple…for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died”(Judges 4:17, 21). In Samson, we have another unexpected example of faith. Although he did many mighty exploits, he often proved to be a vain and foolish man (especially, concerning women). Yet, in his death, he won his greatest victory of all. “‘O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God’ …So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life”(Judges 16:28, 30).
In Jephthah, we have one more unlikely example of faith. He was the “son of a harlot” (Judges 11:1). He made what appears to be a foolish vow (Judges 11:1). Still, on occasion, his trust in the Lord was evident. “Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah…and the LORD delivered them into his hands”(Judges 11:29, 32).
Lord God of the “unlikely servant,” I thank You for these testimonies of those “likely to be overlooked by many.” Yet, in various situations, their faith in You was demonstrated. Lord, I am encouraged that You are not looking for the spectacular performer or the capable achiever. You are looking for people who will trust in You, as You deal with their shortcomings. I praise You, Lord, for such lovingkindness!