Bold And Brave: 5 Stories Of Courage In The Bible

a lion's face

How courageous would you say you are from 0-10? I’d like to say I think I’m pretty courageous, but in a pinch, I’m really not so sure. Maybe if I had to tell you how courageous I am, it would mean the opposite – that I really am not. 

Merriam-Webster says the definition of courage is: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”. 

I only have the space to focus on a scant few of these courageous folks, so I picked out a few of my personal favorite examples of courage from the pages of the Bible. 

Stories Of Courage In The Bible

Not only does the Bible tell us of many faithful stewards of God who were courageous, but the Scriptures also give accounts of ungodly men and women who displayed bravery and courage. However, we will focus on courageous people of God in this article.  

Each of these people was a real person who had much courage. Each Bible story is summarized below and is accompanied by several points listed about each one of our courageous people plus several key verses from the Bible. Each profile also includes a few questions for further thought or study. 

Esther

Esther’s family had been among the children of Israel who were living in a foreign country after being captured and deported. She was a Jewish girl who was taken into the harem of King Xerxes in Persia. Esther became the favorite of the king out of many other girls and was made queen. 

The story involves a plot (among other twists and turns) to kill the Jews, Esther’s people, and her cousin, Mordecai, recommends that she let the king know what’s going on even though the king is unaware of her heritage. 

At first Queen Esther is reluctant, as approaching the king uninvited, even when you are the queen, can get you killed. But Mordecai tells her that her “Cinderella story” may have all happened particularly so that she could be the one to put a stop to the evil plot. 

She realizes this is true, and after asking all of her maids and her people to fast for three days on her behalf, Esther finds a way to approach the king while remaining in his favor. 

Her courage saves the entire nation of Israel from being decimated. 

Some Facts About Esther

  • A Jewish teenager being raised by her cousin after her parents died
  • Taken by the king to be a part of his harem
  • Became a favorite of the king, which led to being the queen. 
  • Discovered a plot to annihilate her native people
  • Did the right thing by putting the needs of others ahead of her own life in order to approach the king for help with this problem
  • Again wins the favor of the king, and he gives the Jews a chance to defend themselves
  • Saves the people of Israel through her courageous actions
  • The day is still remembered and celebrated as one of the Jewish holidays

Esther 4:14

“If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s family will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 

Esther 4:16

“Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my female servants will also fast in the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.”

How can we relate?

  1. Read the Book of Esther to get the whole suspenseful story of how Queen Esther saved the Jewish people.
  2. Have you ever wondered if there is a reason for being placed in a particular situation (either favorable or unfavorable), and considered whether God had a plan for you in that situation?
  3. Esther was a Jew living anonymously in a pagan culture. If she was to save her people, she had to reveal her true identity as a child of God. Can you relate in any way?

Abigail

Abigail was an Israelite woman, married to a rich but harsh man, Nabal. He had a large and profitable farming operation with lots of servants and hired hands. And the Bible says he was evil. 

As David and his men were hiding out from King Saul in the wilderness, they encountered Nabal’s shepherds as they were shearing his sheep. David and his men kept the peace with these shepherds and even protected them.

David’s men needed food, so he sent some men to ask Nabal to repay them for caring for Nabal’s shepherds in the wilderness. He was rude and ungrateful, sending David’s men away with insults. 

When David became furious and was about to declare war on Nabal, one of Nabal’s men went to find Abigail, telling her of her husband’s offensive treatment and that there was going to be trouble because of it. 

Abigail acted quickly and prepared a feast. She loaded it on donkeys and followed her servants out of view of Nabal to deliver the feast to David and his men. When she reached them, she apologized for her husband’s deplorable treatment of them. 

David was very appreciative of her quick thinking and humble attitude explaining that she took action to prevent him from causing bloodshed to avenge himself.  

When Abigail returned home, Nabal was there, drunk. In the morning she told him what she had done and he had what seems to be described as a stroke. He died ten days later, and since she is now a widow, David asked her to be his wife, which she accepted.  

She was a courageous woman, not because she opposed her husband’s rash decision, but because she used her good sense to save her husband’s workers and help David, keeping him from doing evil in return. 

Some Facts About Abigail

  • The wife of a rich but harsh and evil man, Nabal
  • A beautiful and intelligent woman
  • In a marriage relationship with a difficult person
  • A humble woman who wasn’t above begging for pardon on behalf of her husband, may have been accustomed to making amends for Nabal’s bad behavior 
  • Showed quick thinking and hospitality in the face of near-disaster
  • A woman of faith, who gave God the credit for saving David from starting a war
  • Had a sense of responsibility for her husband’s servants and workers
  • Showed respect for her husband by telling him of what she had done and why
  • Won the respect of David, who married her when her husband died 10 days after finding out about her part in the drama. 

1 Samuel  25:2-3

A man in Maon had a business in Carmel; he was a very rich man with three thousand sheep and one thousand goats and was shearing his sheep in Carmel. The man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name Abigail. The woman was intelligent and beautiful, but the man, a Calebite, was harsh and evil in his dealings. 

1 Samuel 25:32-33

Then David said to Abigail, “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who sent you to meet me today! May your discernment be blessed, and may you be blessed. Today you kept me from participating in bloodshed and avenging myself by my own hand.” 

How can we relate?

  1. Read 1 Samuel 25:1-42 for the story of Abigail, who saved Nabal’s shepherds from his foolish attitude and words.
  2. Do you think Abigail did the right thing in the situation she was placed in? What might you have done?
  3. Do you think David married Abigail because of her beauty, because she was widow, or because he appreciated her strong presence of mind, which saved David from killing rashly? 

Gideon

Gideon did not start out as a shining example of courage, as we can see from the first part of this story. In fact, he displayed a definite lack of courage and was hiding from the Midianites, who were tormenting his people. 

Gideon had lost his hope because of these hard times his people were going through. He was feeling abandoned by God when an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and greeted him, saying “The LORD is with you, valiant warrior.”

Poor Gideon didn’t know what to think when the LORD spoke such surprising words through the angel, telling Gideon to deliver Israel from the Midianites with the strength that he had. He thought God was going to kill him, but He was told not to be afraid, for he would not die. 

God told him what to do and he did it. He was still fearful. He obeyed God, tearing down his father’s Baal altar and cutting down the Asherah pole beside it, although he did it during the night, not wanting anyone to know it was him. 

Afterward, he built an altar to God and made a sacrifice with fire from the wood that was taken from the pole, just as he was instructed to do. 

The Spirit of The LORD came over Gideon and he blew the trumpet to summon an army that he didn’t even know he had. The men gathered from his family, his tribe (Manasseh), and beyond, numbering 32,000 men. 

At this point the Lord started narrowing down Gideon’s army, saying, “They are too many”. After telling Gideon to send home all the men who were afraid, there were 10,000 and after another weeding out by God, he was down to 300 men. 

All of a sudden, the camp of the Midianites, numbering 135,000, was just over the hill. God told Gideon to go down to the enemy camp, and he went. While there he heard the Midianites talking about how scared of Gideon they were, and it gave him the confidence he needed. 

He first worshipped God and then got to work on the battle plan laid out by the Lord, and they set the whole enemy army to flight. Gideon’s trust in God’s power working in him was remarkable and he became a mighty warrior. 

Gideon created more problems for himself later in life, but he died of old age after he had ruled as judge over Israel for 40 years of peace. 

Some Facts About Gideon

  • His people were oppressed by the Midianites because of disobedience to God
  • Living a life of fear, his identity was that of a fearful man. But God knew who Gideon really was and what his purpose in life was 
  • Learned that God had not abandoned his people, but was waiting for the right time to show them His power
  • Completely changed by the call to action by the angel of God, even though it took some extra reassurance
  • Learned that obedience to God sends evil running away and changes everything
  • Learned that when a man doesn’t know what to do and has no power of his own, God knows exactly what to do and will accomplish it in His power 
  • Had insecurities, but when he asked God for reassurance, God did not hesitate to give just what Gideon needed
  • Led a pared-down army of 300 men against 135,000 enemies – and won (because God said it would be as if they were only fighting one man)
  • Won the battle without lethal weapons (each man had only a ram’s horn, an empty clay jar, and a torch – seriously!

Judges 6:12

Then the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said, “The LORD is with you, valiant warrior.”

Judges 7:7-8

The LORD said to Gideon, ” I will deliver you with the three hundred men who lapped and hand the Midianites over to you. But everyone else is to go home.” So Gideon sent all the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred troops, who took the provisions and their rams’ horns. The camp of Midian was below him in the valley. 

How can we relate?

  1. Read Judges chapters 6-7
  2. List some weapons of your own that you might use to fight your battles; How do these weapons compare with the weapons God can equip you with?
  3. We sometimes wish for bigger and better opportunities to serve the Lord, sometimes hoping for a new location, a different situation, or a new season of life. Have you considered that God may intend for you to serve right now, wherever you are, and whatever situation or season you are currently in (in other words, right where He has you)?

Mary, The Mother Of Jesus

Mary was just a girl when she heard God’s call upon her life. He came to her as an angel, who told her that she was to be the mother of the Messiah, the One the whole nation of Israel had been awaiting for centuries. 

Mary could hardly believe her ears, and even sincerely asked the angel how this could be possible since she was a virgin. He told her the glory of the Lord would come over her and that through the power of the Holy Spirit she would become pregnant with the long-awaited Savior. Mary was a woman of faith and believed that with God’s help, anything would be possible. 

Her own strength would never have been enough. Mary depended completely as she bore the Christ-Child in a stable, nurtured Him as He grew up, watched Him become ready for His earthly mission, followed Him as one of His first believers, and then watched as her beloved son was tortured and murdered by the religious leaders as He went to the cross for all of the sins of mankind. 

Mary was a special woman, a woman of great courage, highly esteemed by God to have been chosen for this role. She did not feel the need to be a main character in this story, but she truly was. She accepted God’s will for her life and treasured every memory in her heart. Mary truly was a courageous woman of God. 

Some Facts About Mary

  • An Israelite maiden from the tribe of Judah
  • A virgin
  • A true believer, chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah
  • May have dreamed, as every Israelite woman may have done, of being the prophesied mother of the expected Messiah
  • Betrothed to Joseph
  • Visited by an angel of the Lord, who announced her future
  • Became pregnant by the power of the Most High God
  • Delivered the baby Jesus in a stable
  • Raised the Son of God in the household of Joseph and herself, along with their other children
  • Watched her beloved Son and Savior die in agony on the Cross of Christ, as He offered Himself for an eternal sacrifice for the sins of all people everywhere

Luke 1:28-38

And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.” Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?” The angel replied to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you Therefore, the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth – even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “See, I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. 

Luke 2:16-19

They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. 

John 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing there, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. 

How can we relate?

  1. Read about Mary in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
  2. Mary was an earthly, human woman, just like we are. What fears, insecurities, or doubts might she have had at being asked to be the mother of the promised Messiah? 
  3. Read Luke 1:46-55. This passage is full of Mary’s praise of God,  also known as the Magnificat. God blesses each and every one of us with unique blessings. None of us are the mother of Deity, but we all have things for which our “soul magnifies the Lord” Ponder your blessings in the Lord as you read and think about this passage. 

Peter

Peter’s story in the Bible starts in Matthew, when he and his brother, both fishermen by trade, accept the call to follow Jesus at a moment’s notice. We don’t know any more than that they immediately left their nets and followed him when he spoke the words, “Follow Me” in Matthew 4:18-20.    

Peter and the other 11 disciples were commissioned by Jesus in Matthew 10:1, when Jesus summoned them all and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 

Peter, like the other disciples, expected that Jesus would accomplish great things to help with the political upheaval their country was going through. They didn’t realize that Jesus had come for another reason altogether. 

However, he trusted and walked closely with Jesus, asking questions and learning as he and the other disciples went through life for three years with Him.

With Jesus, Peter experienced walking on top of the water, having his mother-in-law healed from an illness that confined her to bed, and witnessing Jesus being transfigured into a holy being on a mountain in the company of Moses and Elijah, who were long dead. 

He saw Jesus do more miracles than could be counted, and his trust grew as did his love for Christ. 

When Jesus questioned Peter about who Peter said Jesus really was, Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:14). But when Jesus was arrested and the disciples thought it was all a mistake, Peter’s faith wavered. 

Although he had sworn that he would never be able to deny Jesus, he did exactly that, three times in a row, and was heartbroken.

This attempt at good courage actually showed him how much of a coward he was when his faith failed. Jesus was crucified and Peter thought he had lost his chance and would be forever condemned to the guilt of denying the Messiah. 

Three days after the crucifixion, Jesus came alive from death and appeared to the disciples as He recommissioned them, saying “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you” (John 20:21), as He breathed the Holy Spirit on them. 

After Peter resorted to fishing for fish again, Jesus appeared to him and restored him by assuring him three times (the same number of times Peter had denied Jesus) that if Peter loved Jesus he would “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:14, 16, 17)

Peter’s faith was restored and his guilt abolished as he spoke openly and often of the wonders of the Messiah. In fact, nothing could make him shut his mouth as he went far and wide throughout the land, in the power of Jesus, testifying of the saving grace of Jesus that he himself had experienced. 

Eventually, Peter was martyred for his work of spreading the gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, who he had walked with, learned from, and been forgiven by. Peter was a hero of the faith who lived a victorious life because of his great faith. He did just what he was commissioned to for, spreading the Word of God as a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Some Facts About Peter

  • A fisherman by trade, the brother of Andrew
  • Called by Jesus, along with Andrew his brother to be His disciples
  • Accepted Jesus’s offer to become fishers of the hearts of men instead of fish
  • Walked on water at Jesus’ request to get out of the boat and join Him
  • His name means “rock”, which is petros in Greek and cephas in Aramaic
  • Witnessed many miracles and signs of Jesus, and was given power from Jesus to perform miracles
  • Fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus prayed, even after Jesus requested the disciples to stay awake and pray not to fall into temptation
  • Out of fear, he denied even knowing Jesus after he was recognized as having been with Jesus just before He was taken to be crucified
  • Gave a speech at Pentecost (the Jewish feast of harvest), when the power of the Holy Spirit came and filled the room and the hearts of those gathered there, starting a great movement of contagious Christianity, that day alone including about 3,000 people 
  • Witnessed Jesus being taken up to heaven, and at that time heard and obeyed the command to be witnesses for Him near, far, and to the ends of the earth
  • Truly spread the word about all that he had witnessed, Giving his life for his belief in the Lord Jesus.

Acts 2:37-38

When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Acts 4:13-20

When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again. So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

How can we relate?

  1. Read about Peter in all four of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and also in Acts.
  2. After Peter denied Jesus, he was so convicted that he repented totally and never stopped proclaiming Christ’s gospel of forgiveness for sin, the Good News. Have you ever been so convicted of sin that you made a complete turn-around for Jesus? Why or why not?
  3. Think about Jesus’ words at His ascension (“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”). Why were the disciples able to be such good witnesses? How can you be a witness when you’ve never met Jesus in the flesh? 

Conclusion

The Bible contains many stories of brave women and men within its pages. These stories of great courage are only a minute sample of the bravery displayed on the pages of God’s Word. 

I hope you will take the time to study each of these courageous individuals and learn from them, understanding the reasons each of their stories is recorded for all time in the pages of the most-read book ever. 

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