“In the Midst of Your Enemies”

By Joel McDurmon, 2013. Reviewed by Andrew McColl (Part 5), 2/9/2014

17. So what do you have here? You have a people moved by fear of terrorist attacks, and by this fear are moved to demand an aggressive national military leader (8:20) contrary to God’s command (Deut. 17, 22), fashioned after the standards of the very pagans they condemned. This pro-war, pro-mil­itary desire on the part of the people, God considered a complete rejection of His rule. Yet when a self-centred, lying, cheating, coward comes along whose only asset is his appearance, this people spontaneously burst into a praise chorus, “Long live the king!”(p.151)

People always want to be led by those who are just like themselves. A godly community will choose godly leadership, whereas a pagan, ungodly people will choose pagan, ungodly leadership. This explains the prevalence of poor leadership in the world today, and the choice of Saul by Israel, in I Samuel 8.

It also serves as a warning. You want good national leadership? It will be drawn from the community, and cannot differ much from it. Why? The community will not tolerate it. This is why the saying, “Like priest, like people,” is so apt. It also points to the fact that what every nation has always needed is grass-roots change, never change from the top-down.

The Wesleyan revival in England changed the nation, because it began with individuals, who became change-agents in the community. So reaching the community’s grass-roots should always be the goal of the church. Change from the top-down will be at the best, temporary. The Puritan Revolution as it applied to politics, didn’t last beyond Oliver Cromwell.

McDurmon is right when he points to the link between Israel’s ungodliness in Saul’s era, and a vast increase in government military expenditure in peacetime. When a nation doesn’t trust in God, it has to come up with a substitute defence mechanism. The absence of the fear of God (in an individual or nation) leads to the fear of man. This is not only evil, it is expensive, and leads to the curtailment of liberties. Governments that fear some kind of revolt are really afraid of liberty, and thus they move to limit those who are allowed to have firearms, and the rest is history.

18. There is no more unbiblical abomination at the heart of modern life than a monopolistic fiat currency. In this nation [the U.S.], the Federal Reserve System and the “printing” of money is the beast. God’s Word clearly calls for just weights and measures, and a false balance is just as much an “abomination” (Prov. 11:1) as abor­tion, sacrilege, idolatry, or sexual deviancies. The manipulation of the value of money and the priority distribution of huge sums to government for wel­fare and warfare programs, and to favoured banks and industries, is the very abomination which God condemned. Yet many Christians and conserva­tives, even many alleged proponents of free markets, support and defend this system as a good and necessary thing. And the rationalization for it is just like Israel’s support of successful Saul: it has brought us such great success. Who can argue with the system that has produced the largest economy and greatest financial superpower in human history? (p.168).

When nations have embraced financial experiments that appear to have succeeded, they don’t give then up easily. People may cry “End the Fed,” but the Federal Reserve is going nowhere for now. The US is too blind and ignorant to let such an institution go away in a hurry, for it’s   become a national icon.

Has it failed? Well, I think it’s failed comprehensively, but who am I? I’m not even an American. The Fed is an example of the crony capitalism which has plagued the US for over a century now, a statement of the cosy relationship between banks and government.

 

“You scratch my back? I’ll scratch yours.” Like an addictive drug that can bring temporary relief, the Fed will be held onto by a nation that knows nothing better and nothing else.

 

When there is a financial crisis, Americans don’t turn to God. They turn to the Fed for answers, which has dished up its “answers,” in spades. Not until its work has been comprehensively shown to be a national disaster, will it be abandoned.

This is why the wise person has to be one step ahead of the game. The present level of international economic stability is unsustainable as it’s really a house of cards, built upon US national debt that hasn’t and will not stop growing, until there is a collapse. Things that cannot continue, don’t. And the outcomes from such a collapse will be massive.

19. The only plan to maintain a free society is one in which the government is held strictly limited and accountable to God’s Law. At the legal level, a free society requires strict fiscal accountability, strict protection of private property, strict enforcement of contracts, and freedom from oppression. Civil governments are instituted among men to protect these things. For this reason, God gives the power of the sword to the civil magistrate. But the agency which has the power of the sword must itself be held strictly ac­countable, or else oppression, theft, and fraud are inevitable. Once account­ability is compromised, compromise becomes a precedent. Government by compromise and corruption become the new normal, and the cycle of God’s judgment sets in. If we think that our political devices, economic successes, or military might are going to serve us well apart from faithfulness, then we have already accepted the delusion that invited the tyranny of Saul upon the Israelites (p.170).

McDurmon is right to consistently emphasise that Israel’s problems immediately preceding Saul’s regime began with their abandonment of God’s law. Not only does society need God’s law, but government does too, for governments have always been a chief means of the oppression of nations.

And this should point us to the main issue. When the grass-roots of the community has  abandoned God, there is no hope for a lasting political solution to problems. They will always fail, because they are built on the shifting sands of humanism, in opposition to God’s law.

This is why we Christians have to realise that without individual, family, church and community social responsibility, politics can rarely solve problems. Political leaders can certainly have power, but power to save? Never.

“Helping” people without Biblical responsibility is not to help them at all. It generally means in the modern era, the confiscation of other people’s monies and its subsequent distribution without justice.

20. The second question raised by Israel remaining disarmed between [I Samuel] chap­ters 7 and 13 is why their great military leader Saul allowed them to stay that way. The most likely answer is that the total eradication of blacksmiths had meant also the total loss of the knowledge and skill of that profession throughout the land. Not only were there no smiths left, there was no one to train up a new generation of them. Even this scenario, however, would not have been irremediable. Blacksmithing would have been an easily importable technology. Why was this route neglected? Why was the Philistine monop­oly on blacksmithing allowed to keep the Israeli populace in subjugation for tooling as well as disarmed?

The conspiratorial implications of the question are too suggestive to ignore: is it possible that Saul wanted the populace to remain unarmed? Knowing that he has been motivated by fear and selfishness, and seeing this recently manifest in the selection of a standing imperial guard, it is certainly not out of the picture… Disarmament is perfectly in concert with the warnings of tyranny in 1 Samuel 8, though not explicitly stated. Saul was showing that he was indeed a king like those of the pagan nations. Indeed, he would continue their explicit policies. He was no differ­ent than them (p.179, 180).

It is a stunning suggestion McDurmon makes, that Saul may have wanted Israel disarmed to prevent an uprising. Nevertheless, it is certainly possible. While the text (I Sam.13:19-22) clearly points the finger at the Philistines, this scenario of Philistine control/restriction of Israel’s arms was clearly something that Saul tolerated, for it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan (I Sam.13:22).

Saul tolerated his men being disarmed, but he and Jonathan had access to weapons. This reeks of hypocrisy: “Do as I say, not as I do.”  “One rule for me Buster, and another for you!” According to the Bible, the 600 men with Saul at Geba were essentially disarmed.

When they finally got to engage the Philistines in battle they could have done nothing, unless they could access Philistine arms, which may have happened. Amongst the Philistines in the battle, “Every man’s sword was against his fellow, and there was great confusion” (I Sam.14:20). This may have been amplified by the fact that the Philistines were shocked by the fact that Jonathan and his armour-bearer had swords. The Philistine arms monopoly had been partially circumvented, and they may have been panicked. “How many more of Israel’s soldiers have arms? We’re unprepared for this!”

But the issue of an implicit collusion between Saul and the Philistines cannot be ignored. The tyrant’s lust for the maintenance and protection of power, even to the disarmament of his own soldiers in warfare is evident. He clearly must have permitted Israelite blacksmiths to be either killed, or forced to give up their trade, or kidnapped, and taken to Philistia. The blacksmiths may have been among those who later were with the Philistines, but who joined their compatriots when the battle commenced (I Sam.14:21).

20. Christians should be aware that the use of force, even lethal force, in preservation of life is a biblical doctrine and upheld by the Law of God (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. Jn.15:13–14). Likewise, those who possessed weapons in Scripture are often said to be well skilled in the use of them (Judg. 20:15–16; 1 Chron. 12:1–2, 21–22). We can only surmise that 1) God gave them talent in this regard, and that 2) they en­gaged in target practice regularly (p.181).

The Bible is not a pacifist document. Both Abraham (Gen.14:13-16; Heb.7:1) and Moses (Ex.2:11-12) killed evildoers in protection of the innocent. While the believer does not place his strength in his arms, he knows that weapons are a legitimate means of defence in an evil world, and that law-abiding people without weapons are at a distinct disadvantage.

Yes, weapons are used for criminal activity. But far more frequently in nations at peace, they are used to protect innocent people against criminal activity. This has been evident for centuries.

 University of Houston Professor Larry Bell explains that:

“Law-abiding citizens in America used guns in self-defence 2.5 million times in 1993 (about 6,825 times per day), and actually shot and killed two and a half times as many criminals as police did (1,527 to 606)…” [1]

Furthermore, an armed citizenry:

* Requires no police.
* Costs the taxpayers no money.
* Requires no up-front paperwork.
* Protects innocent lives.
* Is deployed in as little as FIVE seconds.
* Works everywhere.
* Deters violent crime.
* Makes bad guys flee immediately.
* Is easy to learn.
* Functions at the local level.
* Does not require control or intervention by the United Nations or any government entity.

 

[1] Pat Buchanan, “America is an Armed Camp,” Lew Rockwell website, 4/4/2012.

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