Online Bible Commentary
Having a Great Faith
Hebrews 11:32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. (NIV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews has used this chapter to proclaim the great faith of men and women of God. With this passage, he realizes that there is not enough “time” (v. 32a) to write of all the many who are worthy of such recognition. He specifically mentions a few names, such as “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets” (v. 32b). Then, in the rest of the passage, he mentions many more, describing them in general terms of their faithful behavior which led to this recognition of them as God’s faithful ones.
Gideon reduced his army from 32,000 to 300 through his faith in God and still defeated the Midianites (Judges 7). Barak, relying on God and the prophetess Deborah routed the Canaanites. Samson, through his faith, conquered the Philistines. Jephthah, through his faith, delivered his people from the Ammonites.
David, the warrior king who united Israel and Judah, displayed his faith by seizing Jerusalem from the Jebusites, conquering the Philistines to the west, the Moabites and Ammonites to the east, the Syrians to the northeast, and the Edomites to the south. Samuel, through his faith, anointed David king, displacing Saul, and became David’s spiritual leader. The prophets, through their faith, became spokesmen for God, often dying for their faith.
So these great men of faith “conquered kingdoms” (v. 33a). Gideon and the other judges and kings of faith “administered Justice” (v. 33b). Abraham, Moses, David, and Solomon “gained what was promised” (v. 33c) by God. Daniel, David, and Samson “shut the mouths of lions” (v. 33d).
The three Hebrew friends of Daniel (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) “quenched the fury of the flames” (v. 34a). David, Elijah, and Elisha “escaped the edge of the sword” (v. 34b). Samson’s “weakness was turned to strength” (v. 34c). Those previously mentioned “became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies” (v. 34d).
Women, the widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs. 17:22), the woman of Shunem (2 Kgs. 4:34), and Mary and Martha (Jn. 11), through their faith, all “received back their dead, raised to life again” (v. 35a). Prophets and others of great faith “were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection” (v. 35b).
The writer brings to light the examples of all of these great men and women of faith to show the first century Hebrew Christians, and all Christians today, the power of faith. All things are possible through faith. Nothing is possible without faith. God is always present, always with us. He stands by waiting to do great things in our lives. But it takes faith. We must take the first step. After we do that, God takes over. He will open doors, but we always must be taking steps of faith to go through those doors.
This is the life of the Christian. We can go as far as our faith in God takes us. Little faith brings little results. Great faith brings great results. Even in prayer, nothing happens unless we pray boldly, expecting God to work. That is the way God works. That is the way faith works. Like these great men and women of faith, we too can do great things for God, but only if we have a great faith!