When you think of examples of what it looks like to live a holy, righteous, godly life, the first folks you likely think of are “heroes of the faith” found in the pages of the Bible. God often used these individuals to do pretty awesome things, like freeing people from slavery, killing giants with a sling, and of course, saving souls via self-sacrifice.
Unfortunately, most people only read the parts of these stories where the hero succeeds, leaving them feeling discouraged and dejected, as if there’s no way they could ever live up to these people and their accomplishments.
Well, here’s the good news. Turns out biblical heroes are just as flawed as you and I, having done some pretty horrible things, yet God still used them to accomplish much good.
Here are ten examples.
1 . David
Everyone knows the story of David and Goliath, about the handsome, young Israelite who in the name of God took on a giant and killed him with one swing of his sling. That same young boy went on to become a war hero and the eventual king of Israel and was known by the Almighty as a “man after his own heart.”
What you might not know is that in the book of 2 Samuel, we find out this same extraordinary young man once committed adultery with a woman named Bathsheba, then had her soldier husband, a well-known warrior, murdered in combat in order to cover it up.
David’s sin led to his and Bathsheba’s child dying as punishment for his crimes. Yet Jesus Christ was a descendent of his line and God still used him for great things after he repented of his folly.
The biblical hero Samson is basically the world’s first, and possibly only, superhero, a man who was set apart by God from birth to be used as a judge against wickedness, endowed with super strength that came from his hair. Samson was a mighty warrior who struck terror into the enemies of God’s people, but as it turns out, he was not all that great of a guy.
Samson regularly broke God’s laws and commandments, slept around with forbidden women, and eventually got tangled up with Delilah. Delilah was a woman from a specific people group that Samson was forbidden from taking a wife from, but he basically violated every oath he took and married her anyway.
She betrayed him, cut his hair, and handed him over to the Philistines, who plucked his eyes out and made him a slave. Eventually his hair grew back, he repented of his sins, and then took out the bad guys by bringing an entire building down on everyone, including himself. You can read his full story in Judges.
3. Noah (Genesis 9:20-21)
Everyone knows the story of Noah and the flood, right? Animals, arks, olive branches, rainbows, just about every kid learns that story at some point, even those who aren’t religious.
Noah and his family were chosen to be the only survivors out of all the people on the earth after God decided to judge the world and wipe humanity out for their great evil and wickedness. Noah was the only one who was considered righteous, a good man, and thus was spared.
Yet, well after the flood when dry land appeared again, Noah decided to let loose for a bit and got blind stinking drunk. As most drunk fellas do, he passed out naked to sleep it off and ended up getting his naked rear spotted by his children, which was a big no-no.
Even the most righteous man on earth sometimes falls to carelessness and errors in judgment.
4. Abraham (Genesis 12 and 20)
Abraham is considered the father of three different religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, and is widely regarded as an example of what true faith and dedication to God looks like practically in the lives of believers.
Yet this man who loved God and trusted him enough that he almost sacrificed his son at his command — God provided a different sacrifice of course, it was only a test of faith — faltered in trusting God to deliver him and his wife from others. Therefore he lied, and said Sarah — his lovely lady — was actually his sister.
This actually got his wife carted off by strangers on two different occasions, requiring divine intervention in order to set the record straight and get his wife back.
5. Jacob (Genesis 25, 27, 30)
It was through Jacob’s line that the people of Israel would truly come into their own, yet before this man was a giant of the faith, he was a pathological liar and sort of a big jerk.
Jacob duped his brother into selling his birthright by offering him a bowl of stew. Yes, stew. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he also, at the behest of his mother, tricked his sick and dying father into blessing him instead of his brother, Esau.
Later on, Jacob becomes a true man of faith, but it’s safe to say his life got off to a rocky start.