33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Verses 33 and 34 chronicle various trials overcome by faith. The context for these verses is verse 32. Verses 33 and 34 are how people achieved what they did through faith.
The faith of those in verse 32 led to three kinds of application:
—some governed in a mighty way
—others triumphed over great odds
—still others were victorious in battle
who through faith
Faith comes from the conviction that God’s Word is true. All genuine faith requires an object. Biblically, that object is the promise of God or the Word of God.
“Subdued” means to struggle against, to overcome. Believers, by faith, entered mighty challenges when combating national entities. God enabled Joshua, for example, to conquer the Canaanites. God uses faith in warfare.
worked [administered] righteousness [justice],
“Righteousness” here is not personal righteousness but national righteousness or justice. Samuel “worked righteousness” or justice in Israel (1 Sa 8:9; 12:3–23; 15:33). David did as well (2 Sa 8:15; 1 Chr 18:14). The judges administered justice for Israel, especially Samuel (1 Sa 12:4).
God gave the prophets (v. 32) promises (Da 9:21). By faith, some believers secured God’s blessings. Joshua conquered Canaan as one example. It is one thing to hear about God’s promises, but it is another to obtain them by faith. It is one thing to understand a principle from God’s Word, but it is another to apply it.
stopped the mouths of lions,
This statement may refer to Daniel in the lion’s den (Da 6:21, 22). Samson fought lions (Jdg 14:6). David killed a lion while tending sheep (1 Sa 17:34–37). Later, Paul was delivered from the mouth of a lion (2 Ti 4:17). Faith confronted lions. The devil operates like a roaring lion (1 Pe 5:8).
quenched the violence of fire,
This phrase may refer to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego escaping the fiery furnace (Da 3:17–18, 27). By faith they refused to worship the king’s 90-foot statue. They emerged from the fire without a singe.
escaped the edge of the sword,
Jephthah, David, and Elijah escaped the sword (Jdg 12:3; 1 Sa 18:11; 1 Kgs 19:1; 2 Kgs 6:14).
out of weakness were made strong,
God gave Samson extraordinary strength to fight for Israel (Jdg 16:28).
became valiant in battle,
Barak was valiant in war (Jdg 4:14, 15).
turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Barak routed the enemies of Israel by breaking their military formation (Jdg 7:21–23).
There is power in the exercise of faith.
The power for accomplishment in God’s economy is faith in His promises. The Bible does not emphasize human prowess but faith that produces strength and victory.
In some areas of our life, we have no answers. The issues are too great for us to handle. In these situations, God gives us the capacity to endure them, the ability to exercise faith in His promises.