I didn’t plan it this way, but this topic ended up being perfect for me this semester. I direct the children’s music program at our church and this April they are performing The First Action Heroes. Yes, I’ll share pictures!
The story, by Pam Andrews, is about a group of kids who are bullied by a gang. They are encouraged by the first action heroes, people who lived in the Old Testament and Christ Himself. During the musical, we meet David – the super hero of trust (though I had to change him to Miriam because we were short a few boys), Esther – the super hero of courage, Joseph – the super hero of forgiveness, and Joshua – the super hero of obedience.
So I thought about holding these heroes, at least the men, up to the traits that we’ve been discussing. Just as a review, those characteristics are Courageous, Selfless, Skilled, Faithful, Wounded, Humble, and Active.
David is an exception to the rule. Most of the Bible heroes have abbreviated stories told from an observer’s viewpoint. But because of his Psalms and the length of his life events, he shows all of the characteristics of a hero:
- courageous, skilled, and selfless in his battle with Goliath
- wounded, yet faithful in his dealings with King Saul
- humble throughout, yet specifically with his regret over the Bathsheba incident
- And unlike the other heroes, his story is long enough to show him as an active participant. His actions and mistakes create much of the circumstances of his life. For instance, King Saul hated him intensely because of jealousy. But the envy came from his popularity with the people, and his popularity came from his skill in battle. “King Saul has slain his 1000’s and David his 10,000’s.” Yeah, that could get under a leader’s skin.
David as a hero – check!
Joshua also has a rather lengthy story, beginning way back when he showed faith as a spy in the land. He believed God when He said He would bring them into the land, so the strength and skill of the men there didn’t scare Joshua. (I say it didn’t scare him, but I could be wrong. I’m reminded at the repetition of God’s urging for Joshua to be strong and courageous – Joshua 1:7-8) Either way, he stood by his conviction that God was greater, stronger, and higher than anything the people of the land could throw at them. Then later, he acted on that faith again and again as he claimed the land for God’s people.
- courageous, skilled in battle after battle
- selfless – think of how long he fought for all of the land before he returned to his own home.
- I don’t remember him as especially humble, but certainly never saw any arrogance in him. I’ve heard that if you claim the title of humble, you probably aren’t. Maybe that’s the way it was with Joshua.
- I don’t see him as wounded. Looking at his life from the outside, and only part of his life at that, it’s hard to see his wounds. But when I think of him spending 40 years in the desert while all of his friends and family died around him because of their lack of conviction, that could make some wounds, there.
- I also don’t regard him as an active character. Like I said in my yesterday’s post (yes, written before I wrote today’s) I think most of what he accomplished to be God’s victories. Whoever heard of a horn blast and shout taking a wall down – or even a picture. Well, okay, maybe a picture would fall with a really big horn … or a drum. But a wall? Not unless the horn was attached to a Howitzer.
So Joshua as a hero – well, he life does give a perfect example of obedience for the kids in my musical, but I think God is more the hero of Joshua’s story. (Of course God is the hero of all of them, but more easily seen in Joshua’s.)
Joseph also has a problem with being an active character. His story reminds me of the old Sad Sack cartoons. Oh boy did I just date myself! Sad Sack was a regular in the Sunday morning newspaper comics. Everything bad that could happen to him did. But mostly because he was pretty inept.
Joseph had some of the same experiences, one thing after another happened to him and little of it because of things he did. But Joseph was not inept in any way. And he wasn’t totally a victim, either. While he had little impact on the bad things that happened to him, his amazing, God-given skill solved many of his problems.
- As an active player in his story, I’d say that his actions influenced about half of his life story.
- He showed amazing skill throughout his life and, particularly with his forgiveness of his brothers, selfless behavior.
- Definitely wounded with his own brothers betraying him, he displayed humility in his sincere forgiveness of them. (No wonder he’s the super hero of forgiveness in our children’s musical!)
- His faith in God never faltered. “What you intended for evil, God meant for good.” Genesis 50:20 Neither did he lose his loyalty to his family and even the brothers who sold him into slavery.
- The only thing I don’t see too much in Joseph’s story is courage. He did speak to the king, but he was brought before him, he had little choice in the matter. He never really stood up to anyone, he didn’t have to. I think his ability and leadership made up for not showing obvious courage, though.
Joseph as a hero – check. Not as enthusiastically as David. A hero is a little easier to embrace when they have issues that they overcome.
There are other amazing heroes in scripture. Our Savior is certainly the epitome. Of course he was without error or fault as well. And the truth is, it’s a little hard to evaluate these real men by novel character standards. It’s fun to see them stand under scrutiny, though, isn’t it!
Your Turn: Who is your favorite hero of the Bible and how do they stand with our list?