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Hebrews Chapter 11:32-34

32. And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

32. Et quid amplius dicam? deficiet enim me tempus narrantem de Gedeon, Barac, et Samson, et Jephta, et David, et Samuel, et Prophetis;

33. Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

33. Qui per fidem expugnaverunt regna operati sunt justitiam, adepti sunt promissiones, obturarunt ora leonum.

34. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

34. Extinxerunt vim ignis, effugenunt aciem gladii, robusti facti sunt ex infirmatate, fortes redditi sunt in praelio, profligarunt exercitus alienorum.

 

32. And what shall I say more? etc. As it was to be feared, that by referring to a few examples, he should appear to confine the praises of faith to a few men; he anticipates this, and says, that there would be no end if he was to dwell on every instance; for what he had said of a few extended to the whole Church of God.

He first refers to the time that intervened between Joshua and David, when the Lord raised up judges to govern the people; and such were the four he now mentions, Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah.

It seemed indeed strange in Gideon, with three hundred men to attack an immense host of enemies, and to shake pitchers appeared like a sham alarm. Barak was far inferior to his enemies, and was guided only by the counsel of a woman. Samson was a mere countryman, and had never used any other arms than the implements of husbandry: what could he do against such proved conquerors, by whose power the whole people had been subdued? Who would not at first have condemned the rashness of Jephthah, who avowed himself the avenger of a people already past hope? But as they all followed the guidance of God, and being animated by his promise, undertook what was commanded them, they have been honored with the testimony of the Holy Spirit. 235235     The history of Gideon we have in Judges 6:11, to the end of the 8th chapter: of Barak, in Judges 4:6, to the end of the 5th: of Samson, in Judges 13:24, to the end of the 16th: and of Jephthah, in Judges 11:1, to the end of the 12th chapter. Thus we see that the order of time in which they lived is not here observed, it being not necessary for the object of the Apostle. Barak was before Gideon, Jephthah before Samson, and Samuel before David. — Ed.

Then the Apostle ascribes all that was praiseworthy in them to faith; though there was not one of them whose faith did not halt. Gideon was slower to take up arms than what he ought to have been; nor did he venture without some hesitation to commit himself to God. Barak at first trembled, so that he was almost forced by the reproofs of Deborah. Samson being overcome by the blandishments of a concubine, inconsiderately betrayed the safety of the whole people. Jephthah, hasty in making a foolish vow, and too obstinate in performing it, marred the finest victory by the cruel death of his own daughter. Thus, in all the saints, something reprehensible is ever to be found; yet faith, though halting and imperfect, is still approved by God. There is, therefore, no reason why the faults we labor under should break us down, or dishearten us, provided we by faith go on in the race of our calling.

Of David, etc. Under David’s name he includes all the pious kings, and to them he adds Samuel and the Prophets. He therefore means in short to teach us, that the kingdom of Judah was founded in faith; and that it stood to the last by faith. The many victories of David, which he had gained over his enemies, were commonly known. Known also, was the uprightness of Samuel, and his consummate wisdom in governing the people. Known too were the great favors conferred by God on prophets and kings. The Apostle declares that there are none of these things which ought not to be ascribed to faith.

But it is to some only of these innumerable benefits of God that he refers, in order that the Jews might from them draw a general conclusion, — that as the Church has always been preserved by God’s hand through faith, so at this day there is no other way by which we may know his kindness towards us.

It was by faith that David so many times returned home as a conqueror; that Hezekiah recovered from his sickness; that Daniel came forth safe and untouched from the lions’ den, and that his friends walked in a burning furnace as cheerfully as on a pleasant meadow. Since all these things were done by faith, we must feel convinced, that in no other way than by faith is God’s goodness and bounty to be communicated to us. And that clause ought especially to be noticed by us, where it is said that they obtained the promises by faith; 236236     The previous sentence, “wrought righteousness,” is differently understood. Some refer it to a righteous and upright course of life, and others to the conduct of rulers and judges. The latter is the most suitable meaning here; and the words may be rendered “executed justice.” Samuel was an example of this.
   To “obtain promises” is to receive the things promised. — Ed.
for though God continues faithful, were we all unbelieving, yet our unbelief makes the promises void, that is, ineffectual to us.

34. Out of weakness were made strong, etc. Chrysostom refers this to the restoration of the Jews from exile, in which they were like men without hope; I do not disapprove of its applications to Hezekiah. We might at the same time extend it wider, that the Lord, by his hand, raised on high his saints, whenever they were cast down; and brought help to their weakness, so as to endue them with full strength.


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