From the book "Journey from Eden" by Kevin Aaron, pages 116-120.
"Contrary to what many of us were led to believe from
childhood, David was not a kind and forgiving man. Following the
battle at Rabbah (during which he committed adultery with
Bathsheba), he did not hesitate to use TORTURE on war captives:
'He brought forth the people that were therein, and put them
under SAWS, and under HARROWS of iron, and under AXES of iron,
and made them pass through the brickkiln....he CUT THEM WITH
SAWS, AND WITH HARROWS OF IRON, AND WITH AXES (2 Sam. 12:31; 1
'Bringing the wheel over' enemies (Prov. 20:26), crushing
people with spikes and sledges (Amos 1:3-5), trampling naked
people among thorns (Judges 8:4, Moffatt), and sawing people in
two (Heb. 11:37), were ancient torture methods. 'While it is
painful to admit that David may have been guilty of such
severity,' says Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, 'the literal
interpretation is the MOST PLAUSIBLE AND ACCORDS WITH THE
USAGE OF THE TIMES' (James Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible,
Vol. 1, p. 526).
And, unfortunately these torture methods were not used by
David merely at one time or place, '....thus did he unto ALL the
cities of the children of Ammon' (2 Sam.12:31). The historian
Josephus makes the same point: 'He TORMENTED them, and then
destroyed them; and when he had taken other cities of the
ammonites by force, he TREATED THEM AFTER THE SAME MANNER'
(Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7, 7:5).
At another time, David had seven men hanged - as human
sacrifice. Though the background details are not clear,
apparently Saul had killed some Gibeonites many years
before. David believed that Israel was suffering from famine as a
result. 'What shall I do for you?' he asked the Gibeonites, 'and
wherewith shall I make ATONEMENT?' They demanded that 'seven men
of (Saul's) sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them
up unto the Lord in Gibeah.' And David said: 'I will give them'!
(2 Sam. 21:6).
Soon David rounded up seven sons (sons and grandsons) of
Saul - 'the two sons of Rizpah....whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni
and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of....the daughter of Saul,
whom she brought up for Adriel....and he delivered them into
the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill
before the Lord: and they fell all seven together, and were put
to death....in the beginning of barley harvest' (2 Samuel
What happened is heart rending. Rispah, the mother of two of
the men, and a relative of the others, 'took sackcloth, and
spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest
until water dropped upon them out of heaven, and suffered neither
the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of
the field by night' (2 Sam. 21:9,10).
She faithfully stayed for more than five months - until the
autumn rains - to keep birds and wild beasts from eating the
bodies of her sons.
Adam Clarke, well known for his defense of the Bible as the
very word of God, found this passage to repulsive, he felt it
might have originated with the Gibeonites or was inserted here
from some less authentic document! He further states:
'Who can read the account of Rispah's maternal affection for
her sons that were now hanged, without feeling his mind deeply
impressed with sorrow? Did God require this sacrifice of Saul's
sons, probably all innocent of the alleged crime of their father?
Was there no other method of averting the Divine displeasure? Was
the requisition of the Gibeonites to have Saul's sons sacrificed
to God, to be considered an oracle of God? CERTAINLY NOT; God
will not have man's blood for sacrifice, no more than he will
have swine's blood' (Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 2, pp. 367-370).
Before his death, Saul had said to David: 'And now, behold,
I know well that you shall surely by king....Swear therefore unto
me by the Lord, that you will not cut off my seed after me.'
Did David make him this promise? Yes, 'And David sware unto
Saul' (1 Sam.24:20-22).
Obviously HE DID NOT KEEP HIS WORD.
Among those that David took to be sacrificed were 'the five
sons of MICHAL the daughter of Saul, whom she BROUGHT up for
Adriel' (2 Sam. 21:8). We know that Adriel's wife was Merab, the
daughter of Saul (1 Sam. 18:9). Why, then, the mention of
Michal? One theory is that Merab died and Michal, her sister,
raised the children. But the Hebrew word that is translated
'brought up' means to 'bare' and is so translated another
place in this same verse. We know that Michal bare no children (2
Sam. 6:23), and since it was Merab who was married to Adriel -
not Michal - most scholars believe 'Merab' was the original
reading in this verse. So it is in the Moffatt and Berkeley
version, and some manuscripts.
But either way, this brings us to something uncanny - and
commonly overlooked. Merab was the woman to whom David was once
engaged to marry! Years before, 'Saul said to David, Behold my
elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife....But it came
to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been
given to David, that she was given to Adriel' (1 Sam. 18:17,19).
Just think, if David had married her, the sons born to her would
have been his OWN sons! How heartless to take the sons of THIS
woman and have them offered in human sacrifices! On the other
hand, if the reading of the King James version is correct - that
Michal had brought up Merab's children - then David sacrificed
the sons that his very own wife had raised! "
Well now, with all this "other" information on the "war and
killing" life of David, that obviously just ain't in the "great
Goliath fight" category of 1 Samuel 17, we may like to re-visit
Psalm 144:1 and not jump too fast at taking this verse of David
to mean God approved and blessed and made holy, warfare in the
Old Covenant age. God ALLOWED people like David to make war and
fight, allowed them at times to torture, cripple, slowly
kill, do with the captive women what we have seen was done with
them at times, and even "sacrifice" some humans to the wishes of
others, and God did not send a flash of lightning to stop it all.
The kind of things that were ALLOWED to be done and be a
part of the life style of ancient Israel, if we will just but
read the whole Old Testament, must I hope make the 21st century
Christian, kinda shudder and be dumbfounded, and make the words
of the apostle Paul that we look through a glass darkly, REALLY
come to mind. Even men like David were allowed by God to live a
life that can hardly be held up as an ideal, holy, righteous way
to live. David practiced polygamy for much of his life, as well
as sexual sins (most scholars believe the things David wrote
about the loathsome disease of his flesh in Ps. 38:3-11, were the
result of his sexual sins). And the way he often practiced
warfare can hardly be said to comply with "gentleman like rules"
Yes, when we really read ALL the life of David, we should be
able to see that the Lord was very righteous and correct in NOT
letting David build God's Temple, for indeed David was a "bloody
man" (2 Sam. 16: 1-12; 1 Chron. 22:6-10; 28:3). In 2 Samuel 16
God had a man curse David up and down the hillside for being a
What is written in Chronilces speaks for itself:
"Then he (David) called for Solomon his son, and charged him
to build the house for the Lord God of Israel. And David said to
Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house
unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came
to me, saying, You have SHED BLOOD ABUNDANTLY, and have made
GREAT WARS; YOU shall NOT build an house unto my name, BECAUSE
you have shed MUCH blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a
son shall be born of you, who shall be a man of REST; and I will
give him REST from all his enemies round about; for his NAME
shall be SOLOMON (Peaceable), and I will give him PEACE and
QUIETNESS unto Israel in his days. HE shall build an house for my
name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father...." (1
Chapter 28:3 is just as telling:
"But God said to me (David), You shall not build an house
for my name, BECAUSE you have been a man of WAR, and have SHED
We should be shocked to our very bones at how bloody of a
man he was at times.
THREE LESSONS OF THE MOST RIGHTEOUS
I believe God told us which three men up to the time of the
captivity of Ezekiel in about 597 B.C. by the armies of Babylon,
were what He considered the three most righteous men ever to live
up to that time on earth.
We find their names in Ezekiel chapter 14. Their names are
NOAH, DANIEL, and JOB. I ask the reader to meditate on the
context of Ezekiel 14.
We really know very little about Noah. But what we are told
says nothing about him ever trying to build an army (the only
thing we are told he built was a family and an ark) in his long
life, to war and kill the heathen or God-less people all around
him. Maybe some would argue there were not enough other
"righteous" people around to build an army and make war on the
evil ones. I guess Noah was not in the same boat (pun intended)
as the Pope and Roman Catholic church of the middle ages, who had
their armies to wage "crusade wars" on unholy people.
There is Job. We have left for us much about the physical
life of Job, and all of his righteous ways, acts, and conduct in
life. Through all that God Himself said about Job, and what Job
said about himself, there is not one word, let alone sentence,
that talks about Job being a righteous "war" man, you know
someone who did war with gentleman rules, and played a good fare
and honorable war against "evil ones." Of course I know
the argument of silence will not prove anything to "Christian war
The third most righteous man (naturally Jesus is not
included, we know He was the most perfect righteous man to ever
live in the flesh) mentioned by God to Ezekiel is Daniel.
Now, Daniel was also a captive of the Babylon Empire. He saw
(as I'm sure Ezekiel did) what the sinful Babylon armies, who
knew not the true God, did to Judah and its people, not very
pleasant to put it mildly. If anyone could have had a human
emotion of wanting to rise up and build an army of Jews, or
secret fighting force against the evil armies of Babylon, then
Daniel was in the picture to be such a mighty Christian war
leader. He sure could have at least "preached" to others that
others should, and had a duty to, form an open or secret "war
machine" against an evil army such as that from Babylon.
Yet, we find NOT ONE WORD about or from the lips of this
"one of the three most righteous" men to ever live, concerning
organizing or being a part of a "war killing machine."
Notice again, whom God used as an example of righteousness
for Ezekiel. It was not.....Abraham (he certainly is used as an
example of faith in an overall way, and someone who learnt great
faith as life proceeded for him). It was not David....I think we
have seen the obvious facts as to why not.
The facts of Noah, Daniel, and Job, having no army or being
part of a war army, nor teaching to build and be in a war
machine, will probably not of and by itself, prove my case to
Christian war expounders, but my case, as you have already seen
(if you've read the other studies on this matter) is not built
upon just the lives of Noah, Daniel, and Job.
OTHER ARGUMENTS ANSWERED
1. God sent armies to destroy Israel and Judah
The argument goes something like: "Well God sent war armies
to destroy Israel and Judah. He did not sent a plague, or
earthquake, and He could have. So God must be in favor of wars
and His children participating in them."
The weakness of this argument is very evident to those who
have read ALL the Old Testament.
Could God not have sent a plague to punish Israel and Judah?
Yes, of COURSE He could have. And at OTHER times He did just
that. He did not ALL THE TIME punish Israel, destroy many of
them, with an invading army from another nation.
We read in Exodus 12 that God instructed Israel's own to
kill their own, then in verse 35, God still further punished them
with a PLAGUE.
Then in Numbers 13 concerning the faithlessness of the spies
and how they turned the hearts of the people away from faith in
God, the Lord was going to smite them ALL with PESTILENCE, and
make of Moses a great nation and mightier than they were, but
Moses persuaded God not do this. The Eternal agreed to do as
Moses wished, but all that generation of evil ones would die in
the wilderness and never enter the promised land. God did not
send a war army from another nation to punish them (and I guess
He sure could have, there were many nations around Israel who
would have loved to have taken a good bite out of their hides).
We can read through the Old Testament and see other times
when God punished Israel NOT WITH a war, or another nation's war
machine coming to destroy them.
The great king of Israel, David, had his ups and downs with
the Lord....had good times, right directions, did justice and
taught the people to serve God, but then he sure had his down
times, his GREAT sin times. One of them is recorded for us in 2
Samuel chapter 24.
David's sin is not fully expounded upon but the context
makes no bones (and David himself likewise) about it being a HUGE
sin, because of the GREAT punishment handed out by God.
The Lord gave David THREE CHOICES, yes, one was to be have
to flee for three months before his enemies. But we need to note,
it was not all just cut and dry, always a punishment by war from
Israel's enemies. David chose what he thought was the
best....putting Israel on the mercy seat of God. What transpired
(70 thousand men dying) FROM PESTILENCE and what the angel of the
Lord was GOING TO DO to Jerusalem (but God changed His mind) does
not seem to be too great in mercy, but probably from what God may
have done to Israel in the other two choices David was given,
then it probably was mercy from the Lord.
The Eternal did NOT ALWAYS punish Israel through war.
Because he did AT TIMES, does not automatically prove that God
approves of warfare and approves of His people (the spiritual New
Covenant Christians today) partaking in a nation's war army
machine. God can choose whatever way He wants to punish a nation.
He is God not us, and He will decide how and when a nation will
be punished for its sins.
One very important reason as to why God did often choose to
punish Israel through warfare is clearly given to us from God
"I will lay thy cities waste, and you shall be desolate, and
you shall know that I am the Lord. Because you have had a
perpetual hated, and has shed the blood of the children of Israel
by the force of the sword in the time of their calamity, in the
time that their iniquity had an end: Therefore, as I live, says
the Lord God, I will prepare you unto blood, and blood shall
pursue you: since you have not hated blood, even blood shall
pursue you" (Ezekiel 35: 4-6).
Ah, someone will say, "This is a prophecy against mount
Seir, or Esau (Edom)." Yes, indeed that is true. But God is no
respecter of persons says His word. And the PRINCIPLE is the MAIN
thing to grasp here. It is the principle that the New Covenant
speaks about, that whatsoever a man sows that shall he reap.
Furthermore it is as Jesus said, "He who lives by the sword shall
die by the sword."
God often punished Israel by the sword, because she lived by
the sword. Israel wanted to have soldier armies to fight its
battles, they wanted to be so much like the other nations around
them, like the time they did not want God to reign over them
through His chosen prophets, but wanted a physical king to have
dominion over them like other nations had. That was the time
Samuel thought they were rejecting him, but the Lord told
Samuel it was really Him, God, that they were rejecting, to be
like other nations, with a physical king reigning over them.
God ALLOWED it, but still worked His work with Israel, even
within the context they desired to have. God would work within
their chosen context of living.
So it was with the military war machine they chose to have
as a way of life, and so it is not at all surprising that God
would often punish them with another military war machine from
another nation. Just because the Eternal CHOSE to punish Israel
this way and other nations through Israel's war machine, should
NOT be automatically taken as God teaching New Covenant
Christians that it is holy and righteous to take up the sword
and kill in their nation's or church's military machine.
2. Jesus' words to take up the sword
Some will quote Jesus when He told His disciples to take the
sword with them on the night He was betrayed (Luke 22:35-36). Of
course the next verses gives the reason as to why Jesus requested
this. It was to fulfil the prophecy that He was to be named
among the transgressors (Isa. 53:12) - He was to be counted as
those who lived by the sword, who were ready to do battle....the
Scripture called it "transgressors." It was when Peter drew the
sword and cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest that
Jesus said, "Put up again the sword into its place; for all they
that take the word shall perish with the sword" (Mat. 26:50-52).
In the very next verse Jesus told them that the Father could
send more than twelve legions of angels to defend Him, if He
called to the Father for such help.
Reminds me of 2 Kings 6 when the king of Syria thought he
would get rid of the troublesome Elisha and he sent a large army
to kill him. The servant of Elisha saw the army and was very
afraid. He wanted them both to hit the dust and high-tail it out
of there. But Elisha told him there was MORE with them than the
army coming at them. Elisha asked God to open the servants eyes,
and the Lord did so. The servant of Elisha then saw all the vast
multitude of angels, horses and chariots of fire (the angelic
hidden warriors of God that human eyes usually do not see).
Elisha prayed to the Almighty to smite the Syrian army with
BLINDNESS. God obliged! Elisha led them to Samaria. Then asked
God to open their eyes. He did! The king of Israel wanted to know
from Elisha if he should kill the army of Syria. Elisha answered,
"You shall NOT smite them; would you smite those whom you have
taken captive with your sword and with your bow?"
Elisha told the king to feed and water them and send them
They returned to Syria and Syria came no more into the land
of Israel. Can you imagine the awesome power and at the same time
the great mercy of God towards the enemy of Israel, in this case
the king of Syria and his military army. No wonder Syria came no
more into the land of Israel. The Syrians knew they could have
been obliterated the first time by the hand of God, if Elisha had
asked God to kill them with a plague or something like that,
which the angelic host would have carried out.
This is just one more reminder (some others here and there
in the Old Testament) that God and His power is ALL that is
needed to defend His people. The nation of Israel was shown that
in full bright 3-D technicolour when God brought them out of
Egypt and overthrew the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. God did all
the fighting, if Israel had been strong in faith, they would
NEVER have needed a human military war machine - EVER!
I will answer yet more arguments in part six of this series,
and we'll take an overview of part of the "sermon on the mount"
from some famous men, as to what the New Covenant teaches that is
above and beyond the earthy things God often allowed under the
Written May 2003