David’s Song of Praise (4)
2 Samuel 22:38-46
We now arrive at the place in King David’s prayer that so discomforts our Christian pacifist friends. Here, King David, looking back upon his life, speaks of God’s sovereign acts by which David was able to defeat his enemies in mortal combat.
38 “I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
you humbled my adversaries before me.
Yes, David is attributing the crushing destruction of his enemies to God’s providential acts of direct support.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them—
to the Lord, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.
David continues his vivid, unblinking description of the death and destruction meted out to his enemies. They not only were killed, but their bodies were obliterated, becoming nothing more than dust of the earth.
44 “You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45 foreigners cower before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
they come trembling from their strongholds.
There is no avoiding the explicit nature of David’s statements concerning God’s direct action in these matters of warfare.
I have on many occasions observed the rejection of passages such as this by progressive Christian pacifists. The simple fact is that they will not countenance the possibility that the God revealed in the Bible would be allowed to violate their personal moral code. No, they too often would rather disregard any offending passage than submit to the authority of God’s Word concerning God’s own nature.
In many cases they seek to dissociate David of the Old Testament from Jesus of the New Testament. But, as I have pointed out in the first of these current posts:
In the first verse of the first Book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, the name of David occurs at the twelfth word.
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:(Matthew 1:1, NIV)
Thus, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is tied in the most intimate manner with King David, a warrior and poet after God’s own heart.
I now ask: Is there anywhere in the New Testament where David’s conduct with respect to warfare is criticized, let alone disavowed? None come to mind. However, it is not only in the Gospel of Matthew where King David is directly tied to Christ’s Kingdom. For, in the greatest theological Epistle, the Apostle Paul does precisely the same thing.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 1:1-4)
Note well that in reference to Jesus Christ “his earthly life was a descendant of David.”
What, you might rightly wonder, is my motive for making the point with such force. Is it because I am a warmonger? Do I own stock in the arms industry? Am I filled with hate for other nationalities, religions, races, cultures, etc.? Or, as some of my pacifist friends have not so subtlety asserted, am I a defective Christian?
I don’t believe that it is any of these motives. I would love to live out my life in peace, and to know that every other person will be able to do so as well.
I certainly understand that actions taken by the United States will all too often cause friction and conflict as they intersect with other cultures and countries. Yes, and the reason for this will too often be in significant measure our own fault. But this admission in no way absolves the others of moral responsibility for their actions.
This is the point of departure between myself and progressive pacifists. For they, in order to justify demands for passivity on our part, insist that the the only group with moral agency in these conflicts is us. Thus, those who attack us with terrorism and threaten us with destruction bear no responsibility for their evil. No, they are just blameless puppets who are responding to the evil that we do. It is thus they who dehumanize the other, turning them into subhuman creatures whose character does not rise to the level at which moral responsibility can be expected.
The reason that there is a Western Civilization at all is because Christians of earlier ages didn’t falsely turn God’s Word into an excuse for cowardice and defeatism. This statement pertains to a time as recent as decades ago and extends back through centuries. If Western Civilization is destroyed and replaced by Political Islam or resurgent Communism, the resulting death and destruction across the planet will be far worse than if we had stood and fought.
But what’s all that compared to maintaining a faux sense of personal moral purity? On the answer to that question hangs the fate of uncounted millions, both within and outside of Western Civilization.