My 5 Favorite Underdogs From The Bible

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Here are five of my favorite underdogs mentioned in the Bible and why I think they’re great examples for all of us.

God Chooses the Weak

After God called Israel out of their Egyptian bondage of slavery, He didn’t want them to feel that it was because they were special, rather it was only because of God Who says in Deuteronomy 7:7-8  that “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Today, we see us coming out of the world and sin which had enslaved us and set free by the God-Man of Salvation, Jesus Christ.  If you’ve read much of the Bible, you know that God has a history of using the least of the world to do great things so that He is most glorified.  Since this is true, it should come as no surprise that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise’ and “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:27-29).   The fact that we have no right to boast extends even to our salvation (Eph 2:8-9) for it is Christ alone Who brings, so that we all to the cross must cling (Acts 4:12).

My 5 Favorite Underdogs From The Bible

Gideon versus the Midianites

Can you identify with Gideon?  He would seem to be the least likely to be chosen by God to lead Israel out of their afflictions with the Midianites.  The Midianites would wait the very moment the harvest was ripe and come down out of the mountains and steal Israel’s harvest.  It was devastating to the nation because the Midianites looted many of the livestock too so they were often hungry and living in constant fear of being invaded.  It was under these circumstances where God spoke to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judge 6:12).  You have to wonder if Gideon looked over his shoulder and thought, “Who me?”  I say this because later Gideon says to God, “how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15) but God reassures Gideon, “I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man” (Judges 6:16).  That’s the whole idea of God using the underdog; He receives the glory.  This was the reason that Gideon’s 300, composed of inexperienced and untrained farmers and ranchers were able to overcome the thousands of skilled, trained veteran armed forces of the Midianites.

David versus Goliath

Everyone must have thought David was either insane or fully sold out of God’s ability to fight for him.  It must have seemed incredible to those who were watching David take on a giant of man; a seasoned warrior who was as fully equipped as they come that day because only the Philistines had the ability to make ironworks and that means, iron shields, armor, and spears and Goliath the Giant had them all.  The Philistine forces that observed David taking on Goliath must have thought, “It’s over…Goliath can’t lose.”  Perhaps even King Saul thought that too as well as most of the Israelite forces however, David seemed to know something the others didn’t and that was he knew God was with him and would fight for him and not “with him.”  David pleaded with King Saul and “said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” so “Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you” (1 Sam 17:37). When the time came, “David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and 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 down and cut off your head” (1 Sam 17:45-46a).  God did deliver Goliath into David’s hand but He also delivered Israel out of the Philistines; at least for a time.

Moses versus Pharaoh

Moses almost didn’t live to see the day of his birth as Pharaoh had commanded that all the Israelite baby boys be killed because he was concerned about the growing size of the nation of Israel.  Pharaoh was worried that if Egypt went to war, the millions of Israelite slaves would join sides with the enemy and Egypt would be defeated.  Moses would later enter the house of Pharaoh and be trained in the greatest schools of the day and rise to become heir-apparent to the Pharaoh but something dreadful happened that changed everything.  Moses murdered an Egyptian who was beating an Israelite slave and had to escape with his life (Ex 2:11-15).  There he was a shepherd for forty years and the similarities of Jesus bringing us out of the slavery of sin and Moses leading Israel out of Egyptian slavery is remarkable.  When God was moved with compassion to act and free Israel (Ex 2:23-24) He manifested Himself to Moses for the purpose of being His human agent to go back to Egypt and free God’s chosen people (Deut 7:7) even though Moses originally told God “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Ex 3:11) but as you know, it’s not “who” you are but “Whose you are.”

Daniel versus Babylon

Daniel the Prophet was brought into Babylon as a young teenager.  Babylon had just taken Judah captive (Dan 1:1-2) but some of the brightest youth of the Jews were spared and gathered together to receive special training and preferences (Dan 1:3-7).  Daniel was among that prominent group (Dan 1:7). Daniel’s faithfulness was revealed in his youth as from the beginning, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself” (Dan 1:8), even though this could mean death.  The Book of Daniel shows how many times Daniel was willing to die before he disobeyed God and even when it seemed the whole nation conspired to make him stumble, Daniel stayed faithful to God, just as “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego” (Dan 3:14) did when they told the king “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Dan 3:16-18).

Us versus the Flesh, the World, and the Devil

By saying, “us” that would be we!   I am writing about you and writing about me; we are underdogs, right?  Read the opening of most of the letters or books in the New Testament.  They mention the “saints” and that naturally includes you!   I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the underdogs who are in our church today and that would include me.  Some are former felons who have repented and trusted in Christ.  I say “former felons” not “convicted ones” because they’ve paid their debt.  There should be no double jeopardy for these men but apparently society thinks there should be.  If you had broken the law and had to pay for a speeding ticket, would people still be calling you a criminal?  No, because you’ve paid your debt. You paid the ticket.  So too have these who have been set free behind bars that we’ve met through our prison ministry.  The truth set them free, not us, and then the prison did, but not all of them (yet) but it is crystal clear from Scripture that this is all from God, not us.  God alone gives the increase (Acts 2:47).  The point is, we are every bit an underdog as Moses was (vs Pharaoh and Egypt), as Gideon was (with 300 versus thousands), as David was (vs Goliath), and as Daniel was (against the giant Babylon), because we were dead on arrival in our sins (Eph 2:1) as far as God was concerned (and that’s the only thing that counts!).   We were once dead but made alive, only in Christ (1 Cor 15:20-58).

Conclusion

Speaking for myself, I was the “runt of the litter” and the last to be picked for anything so I had no reason to be proud.  As such, God could extend His beautiful grace to me since He is opposed to the proud (James 4:6).  I brought nothing to God but my sin and of that, I repented, even though I still sin.  I still cling to the cross for I trust in Jesus Who died for me, even though His enemy and a wicked sinner (Rom 5:8, 10).  Have you?

Read the David and Goliath Bible story here: David and Goliath

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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