32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets:
Up to this point in this chapter 11, we have seen 18 examples of faith. The next unit runs from verse 32 to verse 38.
The first paragraph covers three periods: The Judges, early Monarchy (Samuel, David), and the Prophets. The six men named in this verse were all leaders. Verses 32 and 33 refer to those who attained great things for God.
32 And what more shall I say?
There were too many who lived by faith in the Old Testament for the book of Hebrews to deal with them all. The length of the book would not be suitable for the Holy Spirit’s purposes.
The author of Hebrews mentioned himself for the first time in this verse.
For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon
The first four people who lived by faith did so during the time of the Judges. Faith was at a premium during this age. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Jdg 6:10; 17:6). It was a period of apostasy in Israel. The nation was at a low ebb. Their apostasy brought the invasion of the Midianites (Jdg 6:4, 6). The penalty for denying worship of Baal was death (Jdg 6:28–30).
We find the account of Gideon in Judges 6:33–8:21. He was both a judge of Israel and a military leader. This man reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 men to fight the Midianites and Amalekites, which was an act of faith. Israel’s might was not in her military power but God. God made good on His word by giving victory to Gideon (Jdg 6:12–14, 16; 7:9).
Barak was the military commander who led Israel to victory over the Canaanite commander Sisera (Jdg 4:4–5:31). Sisera had 900 iron chariots. Israel defeated this powerful army with only a token army (Jdg 4:15, 16). The glory would not be Barak’s but God’s. When Sisera, the captain of the army of Jabin, king of Canaan, threatened Israel, God gave a promise to Deborah (Jdg 4:7). Both she and Gideon believed that promise. God honored their faith by routing Sisera with his hundreds of chariots (Jdg 4:15.
We locate Samson’s sordid story in Judges 13:1–16:31. He was an immature and gullible man and was susceptible to the lure of women; yet, he was a man of faith (Jdg 13:25; 14:19; 15:14; 16:28). He knew the source of his power was from God.
Samson was a judge or leader of Israel. The Philistines ruled over Israel at this time. God’s plan for him was to defeat the Philistines (Jdg 13:5; 16:30). Single-handedly he attacked the Philistine army with a jawbone of a donkey (Jdg 15:15). God commended this man, not for his failures but for his faith.
Jephthah was a bastard. The Mosaic law excluded this type of person from the congregation (Deut 23:2); nevertheless, God conferred on him high dignity. Jephthah defeated the Ammonites (Jdg 10:6–11:32). He was a judge prior in time to Samson. God gave him the task of defeating the Ammonites. He was another man of faith (Jdg 11:9–10, 29, 32). He ascribed his victories to the Lord (Jdg 11:21,23). The Spirit of the Lord empowered him (Jdg 11:29). God honored him for his faith, not his mistakes. He made a rash vow about his daughter, but God used him anyway.
also of David
David was Israel’s greatest king. He was a warrior king. We find his story from 1 Samuel 15 to 2 Samuel 24. He was a person of faith even as a young man while tending sheep. He killed lions and bears. He killed the giant Goliath (1 Sa 17:46-47)! David failed by committing adultery with Bathsheba and killing her husband. Yet God used him to write Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 after that. He was a man after God’s heart who wanted to do His will (Ac 13:22). God was pleased with him, not because of his failures but because of his faith.
Samuel was both a judge and a prophet (1 Sa 9:9). He appointed the first two kings of Israel. He was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. His enemies were Israelites who committed themselves to idolatry and immorality. This man took a stand against his people. It takes a special kind of courage to confront one’s own people (1 Sa 12:16–18).
and the prophets:
“Prophets” would include all the prophets from the judges forward. These men did not fight on the battlefield, but in the realm of the spiritual they fought for truth. Their communication was “thus says the Lord.”
Faith is crucial in times of conflict.
All the men in our verse faced different challenges, yet their faith carried them through each situation. Their confidence did not falter under duress. All these men had their problems and failures but, when it came to faith in God, they stood firm.