QUESTION: The Bible says that young David unnecessarily obtained an extra 100 foreskins, killing/mutilating an extra amount of men for King Saul and yet the Bible says that Jehovah’s spirit “continued with him” after this dirty deed. The Bible also says: “Do not become mutilators of the flesh…” and “look out for those who mutilate the flesh…” -An apparent contradiction? Their kind of warfare was disturbing to say the least. The Bible also says that God hates violence, He could have/could easily sent/send a plague/chemical/pathogen instead, so why so much violence (past and future)? -Is this to scare the great tribulation survivors into obedience?
Warfare and killing is disturbing. I agree. But get real, it goes on all the time. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq a minimum of one million people have been killed. People living far away from the carnage barely give it a thought. And the CIA-owned media do not show the scenes of horror they have created. Besides, those doing the killing are rarely up close and personal, where they even see the face of the ones they are killing. It is all done remotely. In ancient times that was not the case. Except for archers, most combatants had to get within arms length of their foe. They could look them in the eye and even speak to them.
War and killing has been part of the human condition since Cain killed his brother, Abel. But when Jehovah brought the Israelites up out of Egypt a new kind of warfare began —what Jehovah’s Witnesses might call theocratic warfare. That is because the Israelites were God’s people. Jehovah was their King. Virtually every nation they encountered was opposed to them. That is because the nations were under the command of Satan and his legions of demons. So, warfare was inevitable.
It is true, God could have simply disposed of all of Israel’s enemies and have been done with it. He did in fact miraculously intervene on a number of occasions, causing the walls of Jericho to come crashing down; heaving great hailstones down upon the Amorites during the days of Joshua, when the sun stood still in the heavens for a whole day; slaying an entire army of Assyrians when they came against Jerusalem, and many occasions when Jehovah simply instructed his army, giving them a battle plan, such as when Gideon and his 300 smashed their water jars and held their torches high, thereby inducing terror on the Midianites in the dead of the night, so that they slaughtered one another in the ensuing confusion.
But God was not willing to do all the dirty work. Jehovah required the Israelites to learn the art of war and use their brains and muscle power to drive their enemies out of the land that Jehovah had given them. Sadly, the Hebrews failed to execute Jehovah’s orders and as a result God refused to drive the remaining Canaanites from the land. As a result the Israelites were in a constant state of war.
But David excelled at warfare, because, as noted, Jehovah was with him. He was a fearless warrior, but also a man of faith and principle and exceptional compassion.
In the grisly instance when David acquired 200 foreskins of the Philistines, it is well to keep in mind that the Israelites and the Philistines were implacable enemies. So, killing the enemy was his duty. Going back to the time of the judges, to Sampson, the uncircumcised Philistines were constantly raiding Israel. (Note: the Philistines were not Canaanites, but were Israel’s neighbors located to the west, by the Great Sea.)
David first rose to prominence when he slew the hulking Philistine giant, Goliath, and severed his head and held it on high. Pretty gruesome stuff. Can you imagine cutting off someone’s head —in this case a rather large head —and holding it up as a trophy? David must have been drenched in blood, like a butcher. It seems unthinkable to us now, but had you been an Israelite back then you would have undoubtedly cheered David on and celebrated his smashing victory.
By the way, for the very reason that David was a man of war and spilled the blood of Israel’s enemies to such an excess, Jehovah forbid him to build the temple –assigning Solomon the task instead.
Because of jealousy Saul schemed to have David killed. That is why as a bride price crazy king Saul demanded 100 foreskins. He assumed David would be killed in the endeavor. But because Jehovah was with David he acquired double the number. That must have terrified Saul even more. The reason Saul required the foreskins is to verify the kill, sort of like the native Americans that would take the scalp of their victim. But performing a post-mortem circumcision was not mutilating the flesh. Keep in mind no Philistine warrior was going to submit himself to a Hebrew circumcision. The only way David could acquire the bride price was by first killing the men. That was the whole point. Killing them would require running them through with a sword, or something of that nature —some real butchery whatever form it took. That was mutilation. (By the way, the “mutilation” Paul was talking about was circumcision, which by that time was not a requirement for Jewish Christians, or anyone else.)
There is something, though, about the request for 100 foreskins that is interesting. Circumcision was a legal requirement. No Israelite male went uncircumcised. It was a sign that they were under God’s covenant. Often the men of the surrounding nations, be they Philistines or whoever else, were referred to contemptuously as the “uncircumcised.” So, performing a circumcision upon a dead Philistine was likely intended to add insult to injury. Ironically, though, the Philistines got their revenge —killing Saul and Jonathan and nailing their severed heads to a wall. Such were the atrocities inherent in the wars of Jehovah.
Sometimes you hear people say that the Old Testament God was cruel and vindictive, but with Jesus everything changed. The truth is, the prehuman Jesus was the leader of the Israelite nation. As Michael the archangel, he is called the great prince who is standing in behalf of God’s people then. Also, Jesus is the greater David. That designation surely draws upon David’s ferocity in fighting the wars of Jehovah. This same archangel who was prefigured by David is destined to lead legions of angels into battle with Satan and his demons and all their armies upon this earth.
It will be a battle unlike anything that has ever occurred. The great warrior, Michael, will trample all of God’s enemies until there are none left alive. So great will be the slaughter that Revelation depicts it thusly: “and the angel threw his sickle to the earth, and harvested the vintage of the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of God’s wrath. And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress up to horses’ bridles two hundred miles off.” —Rev 14:19,20 Byington
War is an ugly thing. Killing is horrible. But the reality is, as long as Satan rules this world Jehovah’s people will be at war. Now it is mostly spiritual war. But there is no alternative, except, of course, going over to the enemy, in which case you will become an enemy of Jehovah.
All the past wars of Jehovah do indeed point to the final war, when God will once again rise up and finish off his enemies. “Jehovah is a manly person of war,” Moses stated after God drowned the Egyptians in the Red Sea. How true that is. We hope to live to see Jehovah bare his holy arm and annihilate this wicked world once and for all time and do away with war and all forms of cruelty, slavery and barbarism. To that end the prophecy of Joel issues a chilling prophetic declaration of war upon the nations: “Proclaim this among the nations: ‘Prepare for war! Stir up the mighty men! Let all the soldiers draw near, let them advance! Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning shears into spears. Let the weak one say: ‘I am powerful.’ Come and help, all you surrounding nations, assemble together!’ To that place, O Jehovah, bring down your powerful ones.”
The nations are now armed to the teeth with every sort of killing device imaginable and some unimaginable. Already, as if out of a sci-fi movie, killer robots are being developed that can zip around as fast as a car and zap people wherever they hide and are virtually indestructible by ordinary means. Spacecraft orbiting the earth can release the so-called rods of God and strike a target with pinpoint accuracy with the power of an atomic bomb. Supersonic warcraft are being developed that can rain down death on any spot on earth within minutes. Satan is preparing to make his last stand.
Amen, O Jehovah, bring down your powerful ones!