Beginning, Middle, End – I Romans 8:28-31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

There is a beginning, a middle, and an end to just about anything! So it is with the Christian life. And these three stages, the beginning, middle, and end are shown in the featured Scripture of Romans 8:28 through 31:

     And we know that all things work together for good to those 
     who love God, to those who are the called according to His 
     purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be con-
     formed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-
     born among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these 
     He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and 
     whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall 
     we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against 

I said ‘just about anythinghad a beginning, a middle, and an end because something (or someOne) is excluded from this! For when it comes to God…

  • …He has no beginning!
         Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God....” In this 
           simple but profound opening phrase of the Bible, 
           when creation began, God was already there!

        Colossians 1:16 and 17 – Speaking of Jesus Christ, 
           God the Son: “All things were created through Him 
           and for Him. And He is before all things, and in 
           Him all things consist.Jesus was already there 
           before anything else existed!
  • …He has no end!
       Psalm 102:27 – Speaking of the LORD: “...You are 
           the same, and Your years will have no end.  Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13 – Three times in Rev-
           elation, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, 
           the Beginning and the End.” (Alpha and Omega are 
           the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet).
  • …He has no middle! (God does not change between the beginning and the end).
         Malachi 3:6 – The Father states to the Jews, “...I 
           am the LORD, I do not change....  Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, 
           today, and forever.

But, when it comes to the Christian life we humans are called to live, we have a beginning, a middle and an end!

Our beginning:

  • As we are born into this physical life, so we must be born into the Spiritual life!
        John 1:13 – “[We]...were born, not of blood, nor 
           of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
           but of God.The Wycliffe Bible Commentary gives 
           this explanation of verse 13:

             Believers...are born of...God. This is not a 
             natural process such as brings people into the 
             world — not of blood (litterally bloods), sug-
             gesting the mingling of paternal and maternal 
             strains in procreation. The will of the flesh 
             suggests the natural human desire for children, 
             as the will of man (the word for husband) sug-
             gests the special desire for progeny to carry 
             on a family name. So the new birth, somethiing 
             supernatural, is carefully guarded from confu-
             sion with natural birth.

        John 3:3, 5, 6 – “Jesus...said to [Nicodemus]..., 
           ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born 
           again, he cannot see the kingdom of God....he can-
           not enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of 
           the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the 
           Spirit is spirit.’

How does one get born again?

       John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him [the Lord 
           Jesus Christ], to them He [the Father] gave to right 
           to become children of God, to those who believe in 
           His [Christ’s] name. Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and 
           you will be saved.... Romans 10:9, 13 – “...if you confess with your mouth 
           the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has 
           raised Him from the dead, you will be saved....For who-
           ever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.

This is the beginning of the Christian life! But some people go no further than this beginning! It is like they step into the kingdom of God, having come through the gate, and there they stand, beholding the initial wonders of eternal life, but going no further to explore their inheritance!

  • The gate (or the door) is Jesus Himself!
     Matthew 7:13, 14 – “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is 
           the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, 
           and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is 
           the way which leads to life, and there are few who find 
           it.” (see Proverbs 14:12; 16:25 – King James Version).

       John 10:9 – Jesus said, “I am the door.  If anyone enters 
           by Me, he will be saved....
  • Abraham was told by God in Genesis 13:17 to explore the Promised Land of Canaan that the LORD would give to his descendants: “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.
  • We are told to explore the kingdom (the new life of the Spirit), and to grow and mature in Jesus Christ! (see Ephesians 4:15; I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18).

When I was the pastor of my first church almost 50 years ago, I got to know the town mayor. One day he told me of his daughter Melanie. She was in her 20’s but had never matured. I asked if I could see her and, after some hesitation, he said yes. Melanie was no bigger than a child of four or five. She lay in a crib, not being able to speak or interact with anyone. Although she was loved and well cared for, she was totallty dependant on her caregivers. I asked her father if I could offer a prayer for his daughter and her family. With his permission I prayed for Melanie and for those who loved her.

This visit left a life-long impression on me! When someone is born into this world, the family and friends are excited for that one to grow, mature, and fully explore what life has to offer them. It is a tragedy if that one never matures out of the infant stage of life.

Far too many Christians are like Melanie! They are born into God’s kingdom but they remain spiritual infants!

  • Paul wrote concerning such immature believers in…
     I Corinthians 3:1 and 2 – “...I...could not speak to you 
           as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in 
           Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; 
           for until now you were not able to receive it, and even 
           now you are still not able.... Hebrews 5:12, 13 – “...though by this time you ought to 
           be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the 
           first principles of...God; and you have come to need 
           milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes 
           only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, 
           for he is a babe.
  • No wonder the apostle writes in Ephesians 4:15, “…speaking the truth in love, may [we] grow up into all things into Him who is the head — Christ….

So how is the beginning of the Christian life shown in Romans 8:28 through 31?

  • Romans 8:28 – Paul wrote of “…those who are the called according to His purpose.” Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him….Through the Holy Spirit, the Father draws sinners to His Son so they can make a decision to accept Him as their Savior!
  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son….God is omniscient, which means He knows everything, past present and future! So God knows from eternity past who will accept the sacrifice of the Son of God to save them from hell and into eternal life. Such acceptance is the beginning of the Christian life! And so knowing, He predestined those who would be saved to become more and more like Jesus! But this is getting into the middle and the end of the Christian life, which is the subject of two future Gems.
  • Romans 8:29 – “…that He [Jesus] might be the firstborn among many brethren.” That term, the firstborn refers not to His physical birth, but to His resurrection! For it was by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead that the Father put His stamp of approval upon His Son’s sacrifice on the cross, taking our sins upon Himself and paying for them fully! (see II Corinthians 5:21). But “…the firstborn…also hints at the spiritual rebirth we must all experience to be saved from sin, death, and hell! See above where Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 through 5, “…you must be born again….

But this is just the beginning!
There is still a middle and an end!
And it is the middle where the hard work begins!

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – III

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We have examined verses 1 through 3 and 5 through 7 of Psalm 37. Why did I skip verse 4? Because it summerizes the other verses. And this one verse shows clearly the secret of how to get your prayers answered! But it comes with a warning: it is not a quick and easy answer! Once more, here is Psalm 37:1 through 7:

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give 
     you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, 
     trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall 
     bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your jus-
     tice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently 
     for Him....

Now let’s concentrate on verse 4 – “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

  • Delight yourself also in the LORD….How am I to delight myself in the LORD?
         Delight in Hebrew is ענג, pronounced aw-nag’.  The mean-
           ing is a bit difficult to discern! Here is what it says 
           in Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary:  “ be soft or pli-
           able, that is, (figuratively) effeminate or luxurious: 
           [translated in KJV as] delicate (-ness), (have) delight 
           (self), sport self....”

Here are how other translations and paraphrases deal with the word Delight:

       Easy-to-Read Version – “Enjoy serving the LORD....   Good News Bible – “Seek your happiness in the 
               LORD....    God’s Word (to the Nations) – “Be happy with the 
               LORD....   Lexham English Bible – “Take pleasure in Yahweh 
               as well....   Revised Standard Version – “Commit your way to 
               the LORD.... New World Translation (Disclaimer! I do not recom-
               mend the NWT translation.  The Watchtower Bible and 
               Track Society [Jehovhah’s Witness] does not present 
               a scholarly interpretation, and the theology of 
               Jehovah’s Witness is heretical. However, in this 
               case of Psalm 37:4, I believe they have it right) – 
               “Also take exquisite delight in Jehovah.... So the idea of delighting yourself in the Lord means... be tender and soft, thoroughly open to God – 
               all that He is and all that He wants to do in your 

    be pliable under His transforming touch! 

    be gentle in that you will not fight Him or 
               struggle against what He is doing or wants to do 
               in and through you! be sincerely saying in all things,...
               nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done.” 
               (Luke 22:42).

So the idea is to totally align your will to God’s (and His will to yours). And to do it with delight, enthusiasm, and dedication – nothing held back!

         It means to take exquisite delight in the first and 
           greatest commandment: Hear...the Lord our God, the 
           Lord is one.  And you shall love the Lord your God 
           with all your heart, with all your soul, with all 
           your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:
           29, 30).

        And, since Jesus tells us in John 14:15 (The Living 
           Bible), “If you love Me, obey Me...,” we can substi-
           tute ‘obey’ for the word ‘love’ in the first and 
           greatest commandment:Hear...the Lord our God, the 
           Lord is one. And you shall obey the Lord your God 
           with all your heart, with all your soul, with all 
           your mind, and with all your strength.

And we are to do this all the time!

  • …and He shall give you the desires of your heart.When you so align your heart, soul, mind, and strength with God’s, then…
       ...what He wants will be exactly what you want!
 will be praying according to His will!  For 
           it is written in I John 5:14 and 15:

              Now this is the confidence that we have in 
              Him, that if we ask anything according to 
              His will, He hears us.  And if we know that 
              He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that 
              we have the petitions that we have asked of 
 will get your prayers answered!

Earlier, in both How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – II, and at the beginning of this Gem, I warned you, this will not be a quick and easy answer! As a matter of fact, it is a very difficult answer! But the more you “Delight yourself also in the LORD…[the more] He shall give you the desires of your heart.

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – II

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Here are verses 1 through 7 of Psalm 37. It is within these verses I have found the secret of how to get your prayers answered! But I warn you, it is not a quick and easy answer!

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give 
     you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, 
     trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  He shall 
     bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your jus-
     tice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently 
     for Him....  

In the last Gem we covered the first three verses of Psalm 37. You would think logically that we’d study verse 4 next. But no! I believe verse 4 is the summary of how to get your prayers answered! So let’s go on to verses 5 through 7, and then we’ll bring it all together with verse 4.

Verse 5 – “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

  • Commit your way to the LORD….” The Hebrew word for Commit is גּלל, pronouced gaw-lal’, and meaning “to roll” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary). The word is used in:
        Genesis 29:2 and 3 (would roll) – When Jacob first arrived 
           in Padan Aram, his mother Rebekah’s home town (about 400 
           miles northeast of Beersheba where Isaac and family were 
           staying), he “...saw a well in the field; and...there were 
           three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well 
           they watered the flocks. A large stone was on the well's 
           mouth. Now all the flocks would be gathered there; and 
           they would roll the stone from the well's mouth, [and] 
           water the sheep....   Joshua 5:9 (rolled away) – Circumcision was the covenant 
           sign carried by the Hebrew male that the people of Israel 
           belonged to God. But during the forty years of wandering 
           in the wilderness, no one was circumcised. Now Israel had 
           just arrived in the Promised Land of Canaan. So God com-
           manded Joshua to circumcise all the males, which was done 
           at Gilgal. “Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘This day I have 
           rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’  Amos 5:24 (run down) – Amos prophesied to the northern 
           kingdom of Israel around 750 BC. He was concerned about 
           the sinfulness of the people in light of God’s holiness. 
           Through His prophet God told the sinful Israelites, “But 
           let justice run down like water, And righteousness like 
           a mighty stream.

Applied to believers, the following convey what it means to Commit!

      Roll the heavy burden of your way away, and roll His way 
           into every area of your life!

      Allow everything that does not please the LORD to be cut 
           away!  And your reproach will be rolled away!
  As water, unimpeded, runs down as a mighty stream, cleans-
           ing and carrying the dirt away, so committing to let God’s 
           way flow in your life will result in a mighty stream of 
           justice and righteousness!
  • …trust also in Him….” In Hebrew, ‘trust’ is בָּטַח, pronounced baw-takh’. According to Strongs Hebrew Dictionary, it means what you are to do, do it quickly! In Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions it means, “to trust, be confident in, be bold, be secure.” There are 107 instances in the Old Testament that translate baw-takh’ as ‘trust’. I have chosen two:
       Ruth 2:12 (Modern King James Version) (trust) – Ruth, a 
           Moabite widow accompanied her mother-in-law Naomi from 
           Moab back to Israel. To provide food, Ruth gleaned 
           barley in the field owned by Boaz, a wealthy relative 
           of Naomi. He told her he had heard about Ruth leaving 
           her home county to be with her mother-in-law in Israel. 
           He said, “May Jehovah repay your work, and may a full 
           reward be given you from Jehovah, the God of Israel, 
           under whose wings you have come to trust. Psalm 2:12 (trust) – A psalm written as a warning to the 
           Gentile nations: “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And 
           you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a 
           little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

As Ruth traveled to Israel trusting Israel’s God to take care of her; as the leaders (and their peoples) of the nations of the world are admonished to make peace with God – to be blessed as they put their trust in Him; so are believers to continually…trust also in Him….

  • …and He shall bring it to pass.
       What will God bring to pass? The way your life is going!
           The plans and decisions you are making as you go!

     ✡ is based on the first two parts of the verse:Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him...Commit your way totally to God!  Trust also in Him 
           totally! Then...He shall bring it to pass.!

Verse 6 – “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.” These clear manifestations of your righteousness and justice are the result of your total commitment to God and your total trust in Him.

  • He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light….
      Paul tells us in Romans 3:10 (referencing Psalm 14:1-3; 
           53:1-3; and Ecclesiates 20), “There is none righteous, 
           no, not one. Isaiah explains it this way in Isaiah 64:6, “But we are 
           all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses 
           are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our 
           iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

We have no righteousness in our selves before God! So how do we get it?

      There is no verse that explains it better than II Corin-
           thians 5:21:  “For He [God, the Father] made Him [Jesus, 
           the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might 
           become the righteousness of God in Him.

It is like changing clothes. Jesus removed our filthy rags of sin, and clothed us with His own robe of righteousness! (see Zechariah 3:1-5). That is the only righteousness that holds any value before God! And it is given only when we accept Jesus as our Savior!

  • …and your justice as the noonday.Justice is the outworking of righteousness within! When you are given in total to the Lord Jesus Christ, what you do will be a reflection of who you are! Maybe we should say, …Whose you are!

Verse 7 – “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him….

  • Rest in the LORD….
Jesus gives this invitation in Matthew 11:28 through 30:  

             Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
             and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and 
             learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
             and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke 
             is easy and My burden is light.  

We all need rest – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. And we need to rest regularly!

      That’s why God set the ‘1 in 7' standard.  In Exodus 
           23:12 He summarized this standard  (see the full com-
           mandment, the fourth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 

               Six days you shall do your work, and on the 
               seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and 
               your donkey may rest, and the son of your 
               female servant and the stranger may be re-
  • ….and wait patiently for Him….
     As Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:26, “It is good that 
          one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the 
          LORD.And this was in the middle of seeing the complete 
          destruction of Jerusalem and the holy temple at the hands 
          of the Babylonians!

     God’s timing is not ours! Sometimes we just have to wait 
          for His perfect will to be manifest.  But the LORD gives 
          the gift of patience, as one of the gifts of the Spirit! 
          (see Galatians 5:22, 23 – Some translations use long-suf-
          fering for patience).

In the next Gem we will look closely at Psalm 37:4, what I consider to be the key verse for How To Get Your Prayers Answered!

How To Get Your Prayers Answered! – I

Psalm 37:1-7

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Over the fifty years of being a pastor, one of the chief complaints I have heard from Christians is, “I have prayed and prayed, but God doesn’t seem to hear me. He just doesn’t answer my prayers.” Often such a complaint is followed by, “What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?I have found the answer in Psalm 37! And within this Psalm is given the way to have the Lord answer ALL our prayers! Here are verses 1 through 7:

     Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the 
     workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like 
     the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, 
     and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful-
     ness.  Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall 
     give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to 
     the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  
     He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and 
     your justice as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD, and wait 
     patiently for Him....  

While the whole Psalm is profitable to read and heed, I want to especially focus on verse 4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The last part of this verse sounds great, “…and He shall give you the desires of your heart.That’s what people want when they pray!God, this is what I desire, what I want. Please give it to me.” But the condition to God giving us “…the desires of …our heart…,” is that we must Delight …ourself also in the LORD…! I think the other verses of our featured Scripture give us a hint of what it means to do such delighting!

Verse 1 – “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.

  • Do not fret because of evildoers….” There are those who take advantage of a tragic situation such as the death of George Floyd on May 25th last year in Minneapolis, or the recent shooting of Daunte Wright on April 11th in Brooklyn Center – both in Minnesota. These two incidents, and others like them, have caused demonstrations that have tuned into riots, property damage, looting, businesses burned, injury of people, and even deaths! In Portland, Oregon, after the George Floyd tragedy, there were over 100 days of riots in 2020! More riots, destruction, and looting have ocurred in this new year!

There are a lot of people angry, frustrated, and ‘fretting’ over the lawless activity of so many in cities across the country. They are asking, “What can we do? What can anyone do? What is happening to our country?” And the same questions apply to politics, illegal immigration, big business overreach…many things going on over which we can fret!

But we are told Do not fret…!

  • We are also told “…nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
     ➔   Someone manipulates the tax laws and comes away with a 
          large, but undeserved refund!

     ➔   Hackers get into personal information via computers, 
          smart phones, and other ways of snooping.  Then they 
          have withdrawn bank accounts, opened charge accounts, 
          even taken out mortgages on an unsuspecting person’s 

     ➔   A man leaves his wife and children and runs off with 
          his new ‘honey’, leaving his family in dire straits!  

     ➔   A shady saleman sells a product that does not live up 
          to the ‘hype’ so convincingly told!  

     ➔   Someone gets ‘inside information’ on a stock or commod-
          ity, and makes an illegal killing!  

There are all sorts of workers of iniquityaround us! And we may be tempted to wonder, “Why can he get away with this, and if I tried it, I would be caught!

But we are told, Do not…be envious…!

Verse 2 – “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.

  • When?…the workers of iniquity…” may soon be caught by law enforcement. Or their chosen lifestyle catches up with them, and shortens their time on earth. Or, even if they seem to make it all through a long earthly life, they still have to stand before God! As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 14 (Lexham English Bible):
     Now that all has been heard, here is the final conclusion:  
     Fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the whole 
     duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, 
     including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
  • Such evildoers “…shall soon…cut down like the grass…!Soon, you may say? “That could be a long time from now, maybe 50 or 60 years!” Yes, but remember, the Lord’ssooncan be very different from ours!For with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (II Peter 3:8). But know this: God’s judgement is sure!
  • I suggest you read all of Psalm 73, concentrating on verses 16 and 17! It helped me to understand God’s ways relating to Psalm 37.

Verse 3 – “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.

  • Trust in the LORD….
         Proverbs 3:5 and 6 expand this idea of trust:  “Trust 
          in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your 
          own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, 
          and He shall direct your paths.   Why should we not “...lean...on... our own understand-
          ing...”?   Because “The heart is deceitful above all 
          things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” 
          (Jeremiah 17:9) 

         We are all tainted by sin, and we cannot trust our own 
          judgment apart from God’s leading! (See Romans 3:10, 21).
  • …and do good….” In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Yes, do good, even to the extent of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43 through 45:
     You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your 
     neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love 
     your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to 
     those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully 
     use you and persecute you,  that you may be sons of 
     your Father in heaven....  
  • …dwell in the land….” Originally, this was directed to Jews to dwell in the Promised Land of Canaan. Applied to Christians today…
         John 17:16 – Jesus prayed, “They are not of the world, 
          just as I am not of the world. I John 2:16, 17 – “For all that is in the world – the 
          lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride 
          of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And 
          the world is passing away.... Philippians 3:20 (Jubilee Bible) – “...our citizenship 
          is in heaven, from where we also look for the Saviour, 
          the Lord Jesus Christ.... Hebrews 11:10 – We are to be like Abraham, who,...
          waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder 
          and maker is God.  Hebrews 13:14 (God’s Word) – “For here we have no con-
          tinuing city, but we seek the one to come.

Because of all this, we are to follow what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1 through 4:

     If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things 
     which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right 
     hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on 
     things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is 
     hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life 
     appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 

Heaven is the land in which we are to dwell – even as we live upon this earth! And we are to explore the land in which is our citizenship!

  • …and feed on His faithfulness.
     ✞    God is faithful to fulfill all He has promised to us!

         Get to know what He has promised!  It is all in the 

       We are challenged in Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word 
          of Christ dwell in you richly....

This all applies to How To Get Your Prayers Answered! We will continue in the next Gem.

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XIX Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Samuel is the last named person in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11; and the last named of six heroes in verse 32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” So we will close our series Heroes With Feet of Clay with Samuel, the last of the judges and the first of the prophets of the kingdom of Israel.

He had an interesting beginning. His mother Hannah was barren. So she cried out to God, “O LORD of hosts, if You will…give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life….” (I Samuel 1:11). God answered her prayer, and Samuel was born! When the boy was about 3 to 5 years old, she took her son to the tabernacle at Shiloh, and said to Eli the High Priest:

     “ lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to 
     the LORD.  For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted 
     me my petition....Therefore I also have lent him to the LORD; 
     as long as he lives he shall be lent to the LORD.” (I Samuel 
     1:26 through 28).

So Samuel stayed at the tabernacle and served God and Eli the priest.

  • Now the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were rogue priests who misused and abused the sacrifices people brought to be offered to the LORD! (see I Samuel 2:11-17, 22-25). But Eli basically did nothing to correct his sons! (see I Samuel 2:29).
  • I Samuel 3:6 and 9 – “…while Samuel was lying down to sleep…the LORD called…‘Samuel!’ So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ This happened three times before Eli realized it was God calling! So he told Samuel,Go, lie down, and…if He calls you…say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’
  • I Samuel 3:13 – When God called a fourth time, He told Samuel that he would destroy the house (family) of Eli, “…because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.
  • I Samuel 4:11 and 18 – All this was fulfilled soon after when the Philistines went to war against Israel. Hophni and Phinehas were both killed, and the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the enemy!
  • When the news reached Eli, he “…fell off the seat backward…and his neck was broken and he died, for he was [98 years] old and heavy.
  • Seven months later, after God plagued the Philistines, they sent the Ark back to Israel ! (see I Samuel 5:1-6:18).

So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him….And all Israel…knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD.” (I Samuel 3:19, 20). He had quite a career over about the next 60 years!

  • Samuel led a revival in which the Israelites turned from the foreign gods they were worshiping, back to the true God! So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.” (I Samuel 7:4).
  • I Samuel 7:12 and 10 – “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’ ” The reason for this dedicatory monument was to memorialize God’s help in overcoming the Philistines as they attacked! …the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.
  • I Samuel 8:1 through 3 and 5 – “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” So the elders of Israel rejected the judgeship of God, and came to him, saying, “…make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

God let the will of the people prevail! The king that God led Samuel to was Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin.

  • I Samuel 10:1 – “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on…[Saul’s] head, and kissed him and said: ‘…the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance [Israel]….’

Samuel advised Saul over the next years, but the king turned out to be fearful, rebellious, and disobedient, much to Samuel’s disappointment.

  • I Samuel 13:5, 8, 9 – “…the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel….[Saul] waited seven days….But Samuel did not come….So Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings….’ And he offered the burnt offering.

Saul, being from the tribe of Benjamin, could not be a priest! For priests which were chosen only from the tribe of Levi were allowed to offer to God the prescribed offerings! (see Deuteronomy 21:5). So Samuel, when he arrived shortly after Saul had finished the offerings, told him, “You have done foolishly….now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart…to be commander over His people….” (I Samuel 7:13 and 14).

  • I Samuel 15:1 through 3 – “…Samuel said to Saul, ‘The LORD…says…“I will punish Amalek for what they did to Israel, how he laid wait for them…when they came up from Egypt….kill both man…woman…infant…nursing child…ox…sheep, camel and donkey.”’ ” (see Exodus 17:8-14).

But Saul didn’t obey! He spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, and the best of the animals, supposedly for later sacrifice to the LORD! (see I Samuel 15:15). But his real reason he spared the best of the Amalekite animals is revealed when he confessed a bit later to Samuel in verse 24: “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the command-ment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.

Samuel set King Saul straight on this matter in I Samuel 15:22 and 23:

     “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and 
     sacrifices, as in obedience...?  Behold, to obey is 
     better than sacrifices, and to heed than the fat of 
     rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and 
     stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you 
     have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has reject-
     ed you from being king.” 
  • I Samuel 16:13 – So God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint a son of Jesse to be the next king of Israel.Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him…and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.

Only once more do we hear of Samuel before his death (see I Samuel 19:18-24). When Saul began his chase of David to kill him, David ran to Samuel’s house in Ramah.

The last mention of Saul is in I Samuel 25:1: “Then Samuel died; and all the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah.

The last mention of Samuel ? No, there is another important one! In I Samuel 28, the Philistines again attacked, and Saul needed divine guidance! But God would not answer Saul,…by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets….” (I Samuel 28:6). So the king found out there was a spiritist medium in En Dor. Maybe she could bring up Samuel to tell Saul what to do! This was a great sin in itself! (see Deuteronomy 18:9-14). So Saul disguised himself and went to the medium in En Dor (see I Samuel 28:3-6).

A question comes to my mind: How do you disguise yourself when you are…taller than any of the people from the shoulders upward.”? (I Samuel 10:23).

The medium brought up Samuel from the dead! (see I Samuel 28:11-19). I believe this was a special act of God, for I have discovered that ‘the deadwhom mediums supposedly bring up are really demons posing as the dead! How do I know? I was in the occult for three years, studying to be a trance medium! Besides, Jesus said the only way someone can come back from the dead is by resurrection! (see Luke 16:31). But back to the story: Samuel’s appearance even scared the medium! (see I Samuel 28:12). I guess she was not expecting the real Samuel to appear!

     ...Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bring-
     ing me up?” And Saul answered, “I am deeply distressed; for 
     the Philistines make war against me, and God has departed 
     from me and does not answer me anymore....Therefore I have 
     called you, that you may reveal to me what I should do.” 
     Then Samuel said: “Why then do you ask me, seeing the Lord 
     has departed from you and has become your enemy? ...Because 
     you did not obey the voice of the Lord nor execute His fierce 
     wrath upon Amalek...the Lord has torn the kingdom out of your 
     hand and given it to your neighbor, David....Moreover the Lord 
     will also deliver Israel with you into the hand of the Philis-
     tines. And tomorrow you and your sons will be with me.” 
     (I Samuel 28:15 through 19).

So Saul and his three sons all died by the hands of the Philistines the next day on Mount Gilboa! (see I Samuel 31:1-6).

But this series is called Heroes With Feet of Clay! It doesn’t sound like Samuel had any indication of clay feet! He even challenged the people of Israel in I Samuel 12:2 asking if he had stolen anything from them or defrauded them in any way. And they answered in II Samuel 12:4, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us, not have you taken anything from any man’s hand.

But in I Samuel 8:1 through 3 (quoted above), we are told, “…when Samuel was old…he made his sons…Joel, and… Abijah…judges over Israel….But his sons…turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” Apparently, Samuel’s clay feet were his failure as a dad! His two sons did not turn out to be well-parented boys! But God still honored him as a hero!

So, Christian, even if you are not the perfect parent, even if you think you have failed in your efforts to raise godly offspring…

…God can still use you!
He greatly used imperfect Samuel !

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVIII Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is a painting by Guy Rowe, from the book, In Our Image, Oxford Press, 1949. Depicted are Nathan the prophet and David, when he confronted the king concerning David’s affair with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband Uriah to cover up his sin!

David is listed as a Hero of Faith in Hebrews 11:32 –“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Does this man deserve to be listed as a Hero?

I taught a seminary course a few years ago on David, and it took me three semesters to cover the life of this man! The Bible devotes 43 chapters in I and II Samuel and I Kings to David’s life and the events surrounding that life! So how do I distill it down to a single Gem? There are two outstanding happenings concerning David that give us a good idea of who he is:

  • At the beginning of his Scripture record, David’s great faith in Jehovah God is the focus!
  • Later on, when he was king over all Israel, David’s feet of clay became very apparent!

The first part of David’s story is his confrontation with the Philistine giant Goliath! We don’t know how old David was at the time, nor do we know how long Goliath had been a soldier in the Philistine army. But in I Samuel 17:33, King Saul told David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.” Most Bible scholars think David was just a teenager – maybe as young as 15, and no more than 19! And Goliath had been a trained soldier for probably ten to 15 years! According to Numbers 1:45, an Israelite would not be considered of age for military service until he was 20 years old. And Saul calling David “…but a youth…,” plus the fact that only three of the eldest sons of Jesse the Bethlehemite were in Israel’s army, suggests David was too young to be considered a soldier!

But this young man surely had faith!

  • I Samuel 17:26 – “Then David spoke to the men who stood by him, saying, ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’
  • I Samuel 17:32 – “Then David said to Saul, ‘Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.’
  • I Samuel 17:36 and 37 – “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God….The LORD, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:40 – “Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.
  • I Samuel 17:45 through 47 – “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of…the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.’

What powerful words of faith this young David spoke! But, they say, “Actions speak louder than words!

  • I Samuel 17:48 and 49 – “…the Philistine…drew near to meet David….David hastened and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Then David…slung…a stone…and struck the Philistine in his forehead, so that the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the earth.
  • I Samuel 17:51 – “David ran and stood over the Philistine, took [Goliath’s] sword…and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

His actions backed up his words of faith! David won a contest that no one thought he could win………except David and God! Yes,, he deserves a place in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11, as one of the heroes of faith!

…except his feet of clay became clearly visible!

It happened one afternoon when David was lounging around in the palace. He got up from a nap and glanced down from his high vantage point (his palace was built on a high point of the city), and, low and behold, there was a beautiful naked young woman bathing on the flat roof of her nearby home!

Someone once said, “It’s the third look that gets you!

  • The first look is a quick look, not expecting to see anything unusual.
  • The second look is… “Did I just see what I think I saw?
  • The third look is… Oh, wow! Look at that!

…and the third look is what gets you into trouble! It got David into trouble!

But let’s back up a bit. What was David doing lounging at the Jerusalem palace anyway? It says in II Samuel 11:1:

     It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when 
     kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his ser-
     vants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the 
     people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained 
     at Jerusalem. 

A king was supposed to lead his troops into battle! He was not just to send his general to lead the army and fight the war!

Back to that ‘third look’ moment: “So David sent and enquired about the woman. And someone said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ ” (II Samuel 11:3). This report should have been a big red flag to David!

  • Uriah the Hittite was one of the king’s faithful prize soldiers! In II Samuel 23 is listed 37 outstanding warriors in the Israeli army of tens of thousands! Uriah the Hittite is listed as one of the 37! (see II Samuel 23:39; I Chronicles 11:41).
  • Eliam was also one of the 37 prize soldiers! He was the father of Bathsheba, and according to his listing in II Samuel 23:34, he was the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite. And in II Samuel 15:12 we are told, Ahithophel the Gilonite was one of David’s trusted counselors! So, in having an affair with Bathsheba, David was also sinning against her father Uriah, his mighty soldier, and her grandfather Ahithophel, his faithful counselor! Well, Ahithophel was faithful…until the king dallied with his granddaughter! When David’s son Absalom later rebelled and tried to kill his father and take over the kingdom (see II Samuel 14:25-18:33), Ahithophel sided with Absalom, and against David ! (see II Samuel 15:31; 17:1-3).

A few weeks after their tryst, Bathsheba sent word to David that she was pregnant! So the king set a plan in motion to cover up his indiscretion!

  • II Samuel 11:6 through 8 – “Then David sent to Joab…‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ …When Uriah had come…David asked…how the war prospered. And David said…‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.” It was understood that the king was giving Uriah the opportunity to sleep with his wife – which would cover David having sex with Bathsheba!
  • II Samuel 11:9 and 11 – But Uriah didn’t go down to his house! He “…slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord….His reasoning?The ark and Israel and Judah are…encamped in the open fields. Shall I then go to my house to eat and drink, and to lie with my wife?
  • II Samuel 11:12 and 13 – So David tried again! He said, “‘Wait here today and tomorrow….’ Now when David called him, he ate and drank before him; and he made him drunk…but he did not go down to his house.

Well, that didn’t work! So the king came up with a more malevolent plan:

  • II Samuel 11:14 and 15 – “…David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by…Uriah…saying, ‘Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.’
  • II Samuel 11:16 and 17 – “So it happened…Joab…assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men….And some of the people of…David fell, and Uriah the Hittite died also.

Victory!David thought. Now no one would discover that it was David who impregnated Bathsheba! And no one would know that the king had Uriah murdered by the hand of the Ammonites! No one would know………except God!

After a period of respectable mourning for her husband, David sent for Bathsheba, and he married her! Eventually she had her baby, and presented the king with a son!

After about a year, the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to confront David: Why a year’s wait? I don’t know, but I do know God’s timing is always perfect! (see Galatians 4:4, 5).

  • II Samuel 12:1 through 4 – Nathan told the king a story of a rich man who stole the pet lamb of a poor man to prepare a dinner for a visitor.
  • II Samuel 12:5 and 6 – David was furious! He shouted,As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb….
  • II Samuel 12:7 – Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (This is the moment represented by Guy Rowe’s painting).
  • II Samuel 12:7 through 12 – Nathan continued:
     Thus says the LORD God of Israel; ‘I anointed you as king over 
     Israel, and I delivered you from...Saul.  I gave you...[his] 
     house and...wives...and gave you...Israel and Judah.  And if 
     that had been too little, I would have given you much more! 
     ...You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have 
     taken his wife to be your wife....Now therefore the sword shall 
     never depart from your house, because you have despised Me....
     Behold, I will raise up adversity...from your own house; and I 
     will take your wives...and give them to your neighbor....For 
     you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel
  • II Samuel 12:13 – “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’

II Samuel 12;13 and 14 – “And Nathan said…‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child…who is born to you shall surely die.’

The child did die! (see II Samuel 12:15-23); and David thereafter had continual trouble within his own family! (see II Samuel 13:1-I Kings 2:12).

I have sinned against the LORD.” It really doesn’t sound like much of a confession for so great offenses that David committed. But if we also consider the Penitent Psalms, such as Psalm 51, written shortly after Nathan’s confrontation; and Psalm 32, as David later reflected back on this sinful time; we can see the heart of this man – David was a great sinner, but he was also a great repenter! As it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

And so it is written in Acts 13:22, that God said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.

So, like the other heroes listed in Hebrews 11, David also is a hero with feet of clay! And if David can be so totally cleansed from such heinous crimes and then be used greatly of God…

…there is hope for you and me!

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVII Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

This is another instance of the writer of Hebrews naming Heroes out of order. Jephthah is our featured hero, and his story is in Judges chapters 11 and 12, while Samson is featured in chapters 13 through 16. But we will stick to the order in Hebrews 11:32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.” By the way, in this verse, David and Samuel are also out of order!

But let’s get back to Jephthah…

  • Judges 11:1 – “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, but he was the son of a harlot.” His father, Gilead, was married to his wife and she bore him other sons.
  • Judges 11:2 – “…when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out, and said to him, ‘You shall have no inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah left.
  • Judges 11:3 – He “dwelt in the land of Tob; and worthless men banded together with Jephthah and went out raiding with him.

One of the Canaanite nations the Israelites were supposed to wipe out, but didn’t, were the Ammonites. And three centuries later, the Ammonites invaded Israel, and fought against them! Apparently, Jephthah had quite a reputation as a warrior! So he was recruited by the Gileadites:Come and be our commander, that we may fight against the people of Ammon.” (Judges 11:6). And if he would agree to lead them against the Ammonites, he would become the …head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.” (Judges 11:8).

So Jephthah agreed. And he was made commander of the army and governing head of the Gileadites!

What follows in Judges 11:12 through 28 is his prewar negotiations with the Ammonites:

  • The Ammorites alleged that Israel had stolen their land and the territory of Moab, three hundred years before! So now, ‘Give it back !

Jephthah replied:

        ...Israel, when they came out of Egypt, tried to pass 
          peaceably through the lands of the nations bordering the 
          Jordan River to the east.  But the leaders of these na-
          tions refused the Israelites passage – the nation of...

          Edom – “...Israel sent messengers to the king of 
              Edom, saying, ‘Please let me pass through your 
              land.’  But the king of Edom would not heed.”  
              (Judges 11:17). 

         Moab – “...And in like manner they sent to the 
              king of Moab, but he would not consent.” (Joshua 

          Amurra or Amurri – These are the names  in Assyrian 
              and Egyptian inscriptions of one of the descendants 
              of Canaan (whose grandfather was Noahsee Genesis 
              9:18).  His name might also be the name of the na-
              tion he fathered, but the nation is only known in 
              the Bible by the name Amorites.

                 Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon, king of 
                 the Amorites...“Please let us pass through your 
                 land into our place.” But Sihon did not trust 
                 Israel....So Sihon...fought against Israel. And 
                 the LORD God...delivered Sihon and all his peo-
                 ple into the hand of Israel, and they defeated 
                 them. Thus Israel gained possession of all the 
                 land of the Amorites.... (Judges 11:19 through 

The Ammonites had conquered part of the territory of the Moabites and the Amorites shortly before Israel, led by Joshua, came on the scene. Now, three hundred years later, they wanted Israel to give back all the land east of the Jordan River!

     ...the LORD God of Israel has dispossessed the Amorites
          ....Should you then possess it? ...possess...whatever 
          Chemosh your god gives you....whatever the LORD...[gives] 
          us, we will possess.” (Judges 11:23 and 24).

     ...for three hundred years, why did you not recover [the 
          land]...within that time? ...I have not sinned against 
          you, but you wronged me....” (Judges 11:26 and 27).

It is at this point that Jephthah’s feet of clay became apparent! He had called together his army, but before he fought against the Ammonites, he made a very rash vow to God:

     If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 
     then it will be that whatsoever comes out of my house to meet 
     me, when I return in peace...shall surely be the LORD’s, and 
     I will offer it up as a burnt offering. (Judges 11:30 and 31).

Jephthah fought the Ammonites, …and the LORD delivered them into his hands. And he defeated them…with a very great slaughter.” (Judges 11:32 and 33). And then he went home…

     When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his 
     daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; 
     and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son 
     nor daughter.  And...when he saw her...he tore his clothes, 
     and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! 
     You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word 
     to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.” (Judges 11:34 and 

At his daughter’s request, Jephthah gave her two months to mourn that she would never be a wife and mother! For two months she wandered with her friends in the mountains, weeping over her fate! Then …she returned to her father, and he carried out his vow….” (Judges 11:39).

  • Some say she was not offered as a burnt offering, for that was forbidden in Israel ! (see Deuteronomy 18:10; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35). Jephthah’s daughter’s fate, they say, was that she was never married and remained a childless woman, dedicated to serve the LORD all her life!

But the text says Jephthah vowed that the first out of his house to greet him,…I will offer it up as a burnt offering.So his daughter was purposely killed and her body burned! As horrible as it is, this, I think, is what happened!

If she was indeed offered as a burnt offering, how could someone guilty of such a horrendous deed be listed in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith? But not one of those listed was perfect! And if you investigate what the Bible says about them, you will find David was an adulterer and a murderer! Moses also murdered someone! Jacob was a deceiver! Rahab was a prostitute! And so on…. These are men and women of great faith but with flaws – feet of clay – sometimes glaringly so!

Concerning Jephthah’s feet of clay – his rash vow…

  • We are told by Jesus in Matthew 5:33 through 37:
     Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You 
     shall not swear falsely make a vow], but shall perform your 
     oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: 
     neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, 
     for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the 
     city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, 
     because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let 
     your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is 
     more than these is from the evil one. 
  • And in James 5:12 – “…above all…do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No’, lest you fall into judgment.

Jephthah is not my favorite hero! But he used his faith to win a war! So a hero of faith he is!

Could I be listed as
a hero of faith?
Could you?

Heroes With Feet of Clay! – XVI Hebrews 11:32

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The above picture represents Samson in the Philistine prison. It says in Judges 16:21 (Contemporary English Version), “The Philistines grabbed Samson and poked out his eyes. They took him to the prison in Gaza and chained him up. Then they put him to work, turning a millstone to grind grain.” It is a sad end to one of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11:32: “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets.Samson is the third of six heroes mentioned in this one verse.

How did he end up blind, grinding grain in a Philistine prison? Samson had supernatural strength, and we are told in Judges 16:31, “He…judged Israel twenty years.But Samson had oversized feet of clay! And his weaknesses and foibles finally did him in!

What were his strengths?

  • His was a miraculous birth!
      Judges 13:2 – “Now there was a certain man from 
          Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name 
          was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no 
          children.   Judges 13:3 through 5 – “...the Angel of the 
          Lord [the pre-incarnate Christ] appeared to the 
          woman and said to her, ‘ shall con-
          ceive and bear a son. careful not to 
          drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat any-
          thing unclean....And no razor shall come upon 
          his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to 
          God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver 
          Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.’Judges 13:24 – “So the woman bore a son and 
          called his name Samson; and the child grew, and 
          the LORD blessed him.
  • God endowed Samson with such abundant physical strength that he accomplished feats of miraculous power!
     Judges 14:5 through 7 – Near “...the vineyards of 
          Timnah...a young lion came roaring against him. 
          And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, 
          and he tore the lion apart...with his bare hands!

        Judges 14:19 – “Then the Spirit of the LORD came 
          upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon 
          and killed thirty of their men....Judges 15:4 and 5 – When Samson’s betrothed Philis-
          tine bride was given to another man, he took revenge! 
          He ...caught three hundred foxes...turned the foxes 
          tail to tail, and put a [burning] torch between each 
          pair of tails....[then] he let the foxes go into the 
          standing grain of the Philistines, and burned up... 
          the...grain...the vineyards and olive groves. Judges 15:7 and 8 – The Philistines killed Samson’s 
          bride and her family because of her father giving 
          her to someone else.  The attack had resulted from 
          Samson burning their fields and orchards.  So “...
          Samson said to them, ‘...I will surely take revenge 
          on you....So [single-handedly] he attacked them hip 
          and thigh with a great slaughter....Judges 15:9 through 14 – The Philistines came to ar-
          rest Samson.  So his fellow Hebrews securely tied him 
          up and turned him over to the Philistine soldiers, who 
          received their prisoner with shouts of joy!Then the 
          Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him; and the 
          ropes...became like flax...burned in the fire, and his 
          bonds broke loose from his hands.Judges 15:15 – Samson...found a fresh jawbone of a
          donkey...and took it, and killed a thousand men with 
          it.Judges 16:1-3 – He then went down to the Philistine 
          city of Gaza, where he saw a prostitute and went into 
          her house to have a good time!  The Philistines found 
          out where he was, and lay in wait for Samson all night 
          at the city gate.  “And Samson...arose at midnight, 
          took hold of the doors of the gate...and the two gate-
          posts, pulled them up...put them on his shoulders, and 
          carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.

But Samson’s downfall was Delilah, a beautiful woman who lived in the Philistine territory of the Valley of Sorek. He was in love with her! The five Philistine lords came to her with an offer of 5,500 pieces of silver…if she could find out the secret of Samson’s strength! Three times Delilah coddled an answer from him, and three times he lied to her!

  • Judges 16:7 – “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
  • Judges 16:11 – “If they bind me securely with new ropes that have never been used, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
  • Judges 16:13 – “If you weave the seven locks of my hair into the web of the loom….

Each time Delilah tested his confession: Now there were men lying in wait, staying with her….And she said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And each time he snapped the bowstrings, broke the ropes, and pulled apart the loom with his hair still woven around the batten and the web! And Delilah wept and kept bugging him!

You would think he would learn! But ‘love is blind,’ so they say, and Samson was being led to the slaughter like a not-so-innocent sheep! He finally told her…

     “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a 
     Nazarite to God from my mother’s womb.  If I am shaven, 
     then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, 
     and be like any other man.” (Judges 16:17).

So Delilah lulled him to sleep with his head on her lap. And she called for a barber who stealthily cut off Samson’s hair. “And she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ ” (Judges 16:20). He jumped up to break free as before… But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him.” (Judges 16:20).

Judges 16:21 (Contemporary English Version) – “The Philistines grabbed Samson and poked out his eyes. They took him to the prison in Gaza and chained him up. Then they put him to work, turning a millstone to grind grain.” That is the visual depiction at the start of this Gem: Samson turning a millstone to grind grain in the prison house!

But Samson had one last victory!

  • Judges 16:22 – “However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.
  • Judges 16:23 –“…the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god….
  • Judges 16:25 (English Standard Version) – “And when their hearts were merry, they said, ‘Call Samson, that he may entertain us.’ So they called Samson out of the prison, and…made him stand between the pillars.
  • Judges 16:26 – “…Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, ‘Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.
  • Judges 16:28 – “Then Samson called…‘O LORD God…strengthen me…just this once, O God, that I may…take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!
  • Judges 16:30 – “Then Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines!’ And he pushed [on the two supporting pillars] with all his might, and the temple fell….The temple was packed with people, and there were three thousand more on the roof watching the antics! All of them died…including Samson!

That ignominiously ended the judgeship of one of the Heroes of Faith listed in Hebrews 11! And Satan used the age-old temptation of sex and self to defeat Samson!

  • He did not even try to resist temptation!
  • He just did not take the directions of the LORD seriously!
  • He gave in to his own thoughts and feelings – and that’s always dangerous!

Running our own life, Jeremiah 17:9 applies: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? So to follow our own way is extremely dangerous! (See Proverbs 14:12 or 16:25).

I wonder what Samson could have accomplished if he had really obeyed God!

And I wonder what you and I can accomplish
…if we fully obey God!