“And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions” (Heb. 11:32-33).
An attitude of faith is an overcoming attitude. It is not a defeatist attitude. It is a winning attitude. It is a victorious attitude that trusts God to overcome any challenge. In v. 33, the verb “conquered” (katagonizomai) means “conquer, defeat, overcome.” (Gingrich) The “kingdoms” (basileia) refer to Israel’s enemies (Deut. 3:21; Ps. 79). People of faith did not just win battles. They conquered kingdoms. It speaks of literal conflict, not merely spiritual conflict. Hence, Gideon led Israel to defeat the Midianites (Judg. 7:1-25). Barak conquered the armies of Jabin, the king of Canaan (Judg. 4:1-16). Samson defeated the Philistines (Judg. 16:23-3). Jephthah overcame the Ammonites (Judg. 11:29-33). David conquered the Philistines (2 Sam. 5:17-25).
They also “enforced justice” (v. 33). The context is about the rulers of Israel, such as Samson, Jephthah, and David, who enforced justice in the land. “So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people” (2 Sam. 8:15).
By faith, they “obtained promises” (v. 33). It refers to receiving God’s promises in the present time on earth. Thus, Abraham, “having patiently waited, obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:15). It does not contradict what is written in Heb. 11:13-16, and 39. There, the writer speaks about not receiving God’s promise of a future homeland, a better country, the city of God.
By faith, they “stopped the mouths of lions” (v. 33). It refers clearly to Daniel in the lions den (Dan. 6:16-23). In Dan. 6:22, the angel of God stopped the lions’ mouths. But in Heb. 11, faith stopped the lions’ mouths. Hence, the faith of Daniel moved God to shut the lions’ mouths. Faith trusts God to overcome trials.