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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 11 - Verse 32

 

Verse 32. And what shall I more say? "There are numerous other instances, showing the strength of faith, which there is not time to mention."

For the time would fail me to tell. To recount all that they did; all the illustrations of the strength and power of faith evinced in their lives.

Of Gedeon. The history of Gideon is detailed at length in Jud 6, 7, and there can be no doubt that in his wars he was sustained and animated by strong confidence in God.

And of Barak. Jud 4. Barak, at the command of Deborah the prophetess, who summoned him to war in the name of the Lord, encountered and overthrew the hosts of Sisera. His yielding to her summons, and his valour in battle against the enemies of the Lord, showed that he was animated by faith.

And of Samson. See the history of Samson in Jud 14-16.

It is not by any means necessary to suppose that, in making mention of Samson, the apostle approved of all that he did. All that he commends is his faith, and though he was a very imperfect man, and there were many things in his life which neither sound morality nor religion can approve, yet it was still true that he evinced, on some occasions, remarkable confidence in God, by relying on the strength which he gave him. This was particularly true in the instance where he made a great slaughter of the enemies of the Lord and of his country. See Jud 15:14; 16:28.

And of Jephthae. The story of Jephtha is recorded in Jud 11. The mention of his name among those who were distinguished for faith, has given occasion to much perplexity among expositors. That a man of so harsh and severe a character, a man who sacrificed his own daughter in consequence of a rash vow, should be numbered among those who were eminent for piety as if he were one distinguished for piety also, has seemed to be wholly inconsistent and improper. The same remark, however, may be made respecting Jephtha which has been made of Samson and others. The apostle does not commend all which they did. He does not deny that they were very imperfect men, nor that they did many things which can not be approved or vindicated. He commends only one thing—their faith; and in these instances he particularly alludes doubtless to their remarkable valour and success in delivering their country from their foes, and from the foes of God. In this, it is implied, that they regarded themselves as called to this work by the Lord, and as engaged in his service; and that they went forth to battle depending on his protection, and nerved by confidence in him as the God of their country. Their views of God himself might be very erroneous; their notions of religion—as was the case with Jephtha—very imperfect and obscure; many things in their lives might be wholly inconsistent with what we should now regard as demanded by religion, and still it might be true that, in their efforts to deliver their country, they relied on the aid of God, and were animated to put forth extraordinary efforts, and were favoured with extraordinary success from their confidence in him. In thee case of Jephtha, all that is necessary to suppose in order to see the force of the illustration of the apostle is, that he had strong confidence in God—the God of his nation—and that, under the influence of this, he made extraordinary efforts in repelling his foes. And this is not unnatural, or improbable, even on the supposition that he was not a pious man. How many a Greek, and Roman, and Goth, and Mohammedan, has been animated to extraordinary courage in battle by confidence in the gods which they worshipped! That Jephtha had this no one can doubt. See Jud 11:29-32. Even in the great and improper sacrifice of his only daughter; which the obvious interpretation of the record respecting him, in Jud 11:39, leads us to suppose he made, he did it as an offering to the Lord; and under these mistaken views of duty he showed, by the greatest sacrifice which a man could make—that of an only child —that he was disposed to do what he believed was required by religion.

A full examination of the case of Jephtha, and of the question whether he really sacrificed his daughter, may be found in Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, Book ix. Notes; in Bush's Notes on Judges xi.; and in the Biblical Repository for January, 1843. It is not necessary to go into the much-litigated inquiry here whether he really put his daughter to death—for, whether he did or not, it is equally true that he evinced strong confidence in God. If he did do it in obedience, as he supposed, to duty and to the Divine command, no higher instance of faith in God, as having a right to dispose of all that he had, could be furnished; if he did not, his eminent valour and success in battle show that he relied for strength and victory on the arm of Jehovah. The single reason why the piety of Jephtha has ever been called in question, has been the fact that he sacrificed his own daughter. If he did not do that, no one will doubt his claims to an honoured rank among those who have evinced faith in God.

Of David also. Commended justly as an eminent example of a man who had faith in God, though it cannot be supposed that all that he did was approved.

And Samuel. In early youth distinguished for his piety, and manifesting it through his life. See 1 Sam.

And of the prophets. They were men who had strong confidence in the truth of what God directed them to foretell, and who were ever ready, depending on him, to make known the most unwelcome truths to their fellow-men, even at the peril of their lives.

{*} "Gedeon" "Gideon" {b} "Gideon" Jud 6, 7

{c} "Barak" Jud 4:6 {d} "Samson" Jud 15, 16

{e} "Jepthae" Jud 11:32 {+} "Jepthae" "Jepthah" {f} "David" 1 Sa 17:45 {g} "Samuel" 1 Sa 7:9

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