Have you ever noticed the people that the writer of Hebrews mentions as “paragons” of faith in verse 32? Most of them were hardly paragons.
Samuel, though he was a great judge and prophet, failed greatly when it came to raising his sons.
And while David was the greatest king in Israel’s history, he stumbled badly twice, once in his sin with Bathsheba, and once in counting his fighting men out of his pride.
Yet at least for the most part, these were good and faithful men.
Most people when they think about Gideon only think about his triumph over the Midianites. But after that, his actions were hardly stellar. He took vengeance on two cities that refused to help him in his fight against the Midianites. Then, although he refused kingship, he nevertheless started to act like one taking multiple wives, and even naming his son Abimelech which means, “My father is king.”
More, he made a golden ephod which was usually a garment that priests used for consulting God. So it almost looks like he was trying to take on that duty as well. Worse, the people started to worship that ephod and it became a snare to him and his family.
Barak? He refused to go to war against Israel’s oppressors unless Deborah the prophetess went with him.
Samson? Sure he brought a measure of deliverance to the Israelites from the Philistines. But he broke all his Nazirite vows in the process, drinking wine, touching dead carcasses, and allowing his hair to be cut. More, he was sexually immoral and vindictive. The fact that he delivered the Israelites seemed more incidental than intentional on his part.
Jephthah? By a foolish vow he made, he either unintentionally was forced to put his daughter into the service of the Lord, never to marry or have children, or he actually sacrificed his daughter on an altar, completely contrary to the commands of God.
Why in the world, are these latter 4 mentioned as paragons of faith?
Maybe for the simple reason that they are not paragons.
They were ordinary sinners just like us. They did many awful things. But when they actually did put their trust in God, they did awesome things.
What can we learn from them? God can use you to do great things if you’ll just trust in him day to day.
But when you fail to do so, you are also capable of doing horrific things.
How people will look at you at the end of your life will greatly depend on how you live. Will you consistently, day in and day out, put your trust in God? Then people will look at you as they do with Daniel and his friends. As men that shut the mouths of lions and quenched the fury of the flames.
But if you are one day trusting him, and one day living for yourself, you’ll find yourself with the legacy of a Samson or Gideon. People who accomplished great things when trusting God, but making an utter of mess of things when they didn’t.
Which will you choose?