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…
Mark the characteristics of that faith, in virtue of which the writer brings together these honoured names, and by the power of which they were enabled to be God's instruments and deputies in carrying forward on the earth His great purposes of salvation. There are certain marks common to their faith, which will be found also to characterise those who have succeeded them in New Testament times.
I. The first is, that THEIR FAITH IS IN A LIVING GOD — a true believing that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. That is no very distinguishing characteristic, you may think; most men believe in God. Most men profess to believe in Him, but in how many does their conduct show that the profession is worth much? They believe in forms of words, in current opinion, in worldly maxims, in the conventions of society, in the fashions of the church; but genuine faith in a living God, whose righteous laws ought to be obeyed, whose promises are true and ought to be acted on, whose loving care guards and guides their lives, so that they have only to do His will and fear no evil — that is a Tare thing yet, and makes men more or less strange where it is seen. It was found in all these heroes of faith, so that they had strength and courage to do the will of God, when it seemed not only difficult, but utterly impossible.
II. A second characteristic of the faith of these heroes is that ITS GOAL IS IN THE FUTURE, its eye is fixed on the invisible. They felt the evil of the present state, its disorder, its degradation, its wrong, its misery; but they knew by the vision of faith that this visible world is girt about with the invisible, that there is a higher order of things, a kingdom of truth, of righteousness, of peace, of purity above, and that its powers and laws shall yet penetrate and rule this earth, and the kingdom of God be established among men. And though the promises, whose fulfilment bounded the horizon of pre-Christian believers, have now been accomplished, and faith has now that fulfilment to rest upon, it still looks forward to the future, to promises yet to be fulfilled of a better day and a better kingdom. But still it confidently lays hold of the invisible, and works towards an end which seems a mere will-o'-the-wisp in the judgment of ordinary men.
III. Again, the faith of these true heroes is marked by INSIGHT INTO PRESENT NEEDS AND DUTIES. Faith has a prophetic glance. Discerning God and God's holy order, it has an understanding of the times and the seasons, knows when to cast in the seed, and to put in the sickle, sees the fruit in the flower, and the great tree in the little germ. Hence the wonderful variety, for instance, in the work of these leaders of faith recorded in this chapter. They were not guided by custom, nor ruled merely by traditions of the past, but holding and living by the truth already given, they were led into fresh applications of it. The new time brought its new duties, and they obeyed God's call to face them; it disclosed fresh light, and they dared to open their eyes to let it in.
(W. Stevenson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: