No Smith in Israel
1 Samuel 13:19-22 (19) Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: (20) But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock. (21) Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads. (22) So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. The Philistines were a foreign enemy that had become a domestic enemy. Their policy was one which oppressive powers have used throughout history: disarm the public which could otherwise resist them. At this time in Israel only the government had weapons; the life, liberty and property of the citizens were dependent upon the civil power, for only “...with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found” (v. 22). Too many Christians think this is a good thing. With misguided interpretations of Christ's instruction to “...resist not evil...” (MAT 5:38-39) and “Trust in the Lord” coupled with a deteriorating social order and a propaganda stream about the evils of private gun ownership, many well-intentioned believers have sold out their biblical and moral responsibility of self-defense for a mess of police-state pottage. Mind that the concept of looking to civil power for the security which God was well able to provide through His own established means was the error which brought Saul to power (1SAM 8:18-20). Another overreach of power was where King Darius made “...a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into a den of lions” (DAN 6:7). Again, the sentiment here is that civil government is the answer to every problem. It is a mark of tyranny when a civil power claims that it is the sole permissible solution to needs and griefs in society. It is a mark of servile stupidity when people actually think this is a great arrangement. Believers should trust in the Lord but Scripture also tells them that they as individuals should be prudent about self-defense and the defense of those under their immediate care. EXO 22:2-3 speaks of a thief breaking up at night, for which he ends up dead and for which his slayer is held guiltless. Comparative study shows that this breaking up is of one's house (MAT 24:43), i.e., a break-in, and the Savior plainly declares that a responsible goodman of the house “...would NOT HAVE SUFFERED his house to be broken up” (MAT 24:43). He would have taken measures against that. Householders are responsible to provide for their own (1TIM 5:8), for their maintenance but also (as above) for their protection. Responsible Christians are prudent to foresee evil and act accordingly (PRO 22:3). Polished locks or polymer Glocks for the home are not abandoning trust in God, they are the practical demonstration of “...Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (MAT 4:7). The same King David (a man after God's own heart, ACT 13:22) whom the Spirit moved to write, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (PSA 46:1) was also moved to praise the LORD his strength “...which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight” (PSA 144:1). Perhaps David's hands and fingers spent ample time practicing down “...at the range of the mountains” (JOB 39:8), pardon the pun. NOTE: It is true that guns in a home represent risk, as do potentially lethal car keys, chemicals, medications, matches, knives, electricity, etc. The wise will be consistently careful. The blessed Savior Who in MAT 5:38-42 corrected the twisted teaching of the Pharisees with such commands as Resist not evil and turn the other cheek (both of which were instructions for handling minor offenses against one's person) also plainly told His disciples, “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one” (LUK 22:36), thereby not only condoning but ordering the possession of a weapon. When the disciples told Jesus that they had two swords, Jesus said, “...It is enough” (LUK 22:38). He neither condemned them for having two, nor for not having more, and it is obvious that these were not restricted to home use. That Jesus thereafter told Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath...” (JOH 18:11) does not conflict with His earlier command, but should be understood as being commensurate with the necessity of Christ's crucifixion for which He had come unto that hour (JOH 12:27 c/w MAT 26:52-54). Christ therefore even sheathed His own most powerful weapon: prayer (MAT 26:53-54). Christ did not tell Peter, “I meant a spiritual sword,” or “Never pull that thing out of a sheath again,” or “Surrender that thing to the Roman authorities,” or “Register that thing with the Joint Undersecretary of Defense And Security” (JUDAS, for short). Rather, it was implied that Peter's weapon should be re-holstered for later availability. The apostles' work sometimes put them “...in perils of robbers...” (2CO 11:26) and considering that they sometimes were traveling through dangerous country with substantial wealth in hand (ROM 15:25-26), an effective weapon would have been a reasonable accessory. To say that carrying a weapon was abandoning faith in God would be also to say that they should have openly displayed the wealth they were carrying and sent out pamphlets that read, “Attention, all heathen: we are unarmed servants who trust in God and we are coming your way with a caravan of wealth.” But again, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (MAT 4:7). The Scripture is the SWORD of the Spirit (EPH 6:17), but if we are to draw an analogy from the anti-gun arguments of today (“All you need for protection is a cellphone”), perhaps it should be the cellphone of the Spirit. When Israel abandoned God for gods of their own choosing, JDG 5:8 notes, “They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel?” The Israelite army was essentially meant to be an armed militia who could be called up for duty as needed (NUM 1:3 c/w NUM 31:3). But in pursuit of carnal interests, they abandoned God's blessings upon principles like the fear of God, self-discipline, self-government, self-accountability and self-defense, opting for an alternative security in the form of a “...king to judge us like all the nations” (1SAM 8:5). Their new leader raised up a standing, professional army into which their sons and daughters would be drafted for wars (1SAM 8:11-12), their lands expropriated and their production taxed to support his agenda. He even put their asses to work for himself and the people accepted all of this so the nation could be “secure” and a “world player.” See: 1 Samuel 8:14-20 (14) And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. (15) And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. (16) And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. (17) He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. (18) And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day. (19) Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; (20) That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. So, “...there is no new thing under the sun” (ECC 1:9). It is a questionable personal and an unhealthy political condition when there is “...no smith found throughout all the land...” (1SAM 13:19), nor a Ruger, Glock, Colt, Armalight, Barrett or perhaps even an Uzi.