“Shall the sword devour forever?”
In this passage, David ascends to a legitimate throne of civil rule for the first time. It was a small step, however, for God gives him only a foothold in the kingdom at first. Great challenges still await him to bring the whole nation under the throne he was promised, and even in these first few moments of his rule, he will face great challenges that are unforeseen. Some will arise from direct jealousy, others from the damage Saul had imposed on the culture through his militarism and tyranny. In all of them, we will see parallels that give us warning and instruction yet today.
David’s Ascent Begins
In the first four verses we read of David’s first ascent to the throne. A few things are of note here. First, David does not just assume any position at this time: he prays and seeks God’s will first. Second, David does not get the throne of all Israel yet: only the single tribe of Judah. Third, once on this throne, David recognizes he has much work to do, and he gets busy doing it. There are three principles at work here: prayer, patience, and progress. Each of these are superintended by God’s providence.
First, David sees an open door before him, but he does not presume to walk through it and assume the throne automatically. He prays and seeks God’s will. He had waited all this time since his anointing by Samuel. He had faced all the obstacles and persecution Saul had thrown at him, plus his tense encounters and battles outside of Israel. With Saul now out of the picture, it would seem like the door was wide open to walk right in and sit right down on the throne. But David knew better. He knew that a large portion of the nation was surely still under the influence of Saul’s tyranny, and thus against David. He had done what he could to diffuse the situation by publishing a song praising Saul’s legacy (in the last chapter), but he was still very cautious. After all, even the best propaganda is still just the work of men, and true progress comes only by the work of God. David’s actions here show that he trusted in the latter: he prayed and asked God specifically whether He should go up to the cities, and if so, to which one in particular.
God answered David’s faithfulness and humility here. He sent David to Hebron, a town in Judah, about fifteen miles south of his hometown of Bethlehem. Certainly God’s providence was behind the people’s reception of David, but some of David’s earlier efforts come into view also. Remember back in 1 Samuel 30 when David pursued and destroyed a band of Amalekites? At the end of that story, David gave the spoil to “his friends, the elders of Judah,” to be distributed throughout several cities in Judah. One of these was Hebron. Now we see those earlier gifts coming back to work in his favor. In a nation still largely set against David, Judah became a crucial oasis where he was welcome. Hebron became his home, and those same men of Judah were the first to recognize his kingship. They anointed him. In all of this, David did not have to fight or even to campaign to gain his throne. God was working in him and through him all of this time to pave the way for his ascent. David knew it took God’s works, not his own, and that is why he begins with prayer.
Second, this was a day of small beginnings. We could say this about nearly everything David has done so far: his anointing by Samuel, his entry to Saul’s court, his small remnant at Adullam (1 Sam. 22). It seemed like God’s promise never came to full fulfillment for him. Every bit of progress for him was just that: a bit of progress. It is the same here. Saul was gone; one would expect the narrative to have David simply take his place and rule the twelve tribes. But he does not. God gives him only one tribe to start: only Judah recognizes him as king. David displays tremendous patience and trust in God for the future fulfillment of His promise.
Third, since God was bringing His promise to pass in increments, David knew a lot of work remained ahead of him. He did not sit back to enjoy his coronation. He did not put his feet up on the desk. He immediately got to work. In a nation still largely filled with hostility against him, wisdom would dictate a course of conciliation. David certainly looked for opportunities to build whatever peaceful relations among brethren he could find. So when it was told him that it was the men of Jabesh-Gilead who had buried Saul (v. 4), he sent an envoy to praise them, bless them, and seek peace. David had, of course, already publicly mourned for Saul and published his song. He was working hard to assure the nation that he was no enemy of Saul, and had never been. Now he begins the long, uphill task of building actual relationships one-by-one. He begins with a group whose loyalty to Saul was strongest: these were men who had risked their lives merely to retrieve Saul’s dead body from the enemy. If David could win these guys over, he could win anyone. What better place to begin when his common ground was his own loyalty to Saul? Would it work?
A Rival Throne
David was about to find out that he would need more than his loyalty to Saul in order to reunite the nation. He should have known this, of course: he knew he should inquire of God about how to proceed. When he did, God answered him and provided a way that worked. In this case, David set high goals for himself, singling out the loyalists in Jabesh-Gilead with Saul as the common ground. It just was not going to work that way. Jabesh-Gilead was firmly within the northern tribes—about 75 miles northeast of David’s Hebron. We are not told exactly how that city itself responded to David, but the very next verse begins a short section (vv. 8–11) describing how Abner set up Saul’s son as the new king in Saul’s place, and how he consolidated his power over all Israel besides Judah. However David’s olive branch to Jabesh-Gilead touched the people of that city personally, it would nevertheless not be joining him for the time being.
Abner, you will remember, was Saul’s uncle, whom Saul had made the captain of his armies (1 Sam. 14:51) and who dined at Saul’s side (1 Sam. 20:25). This was an even more exalted position that Saul’s own son Jonathan. Just as an aside, Abner is said to be the “son of Ner” (1 Sam. 14:51), and his name just happens to mean “My father is Ner.” Thus, he is called “My father is Ner, the son of Ner”—an odd redundancy, but something equivalent to having a suffix like “Jr.” or “II.” This speaks of a dynastic mentality, and thus suggests that this was a great and powerful family, or at least had such ambitions, consciously passing their legacy from father to son. So powerful was Abner that after the death of Saul and Jonathan, it was Abner who moved to set up the next throne. Sure, it was Saul’s other son who sat on the throne, but we hear of nothing of any import that he did. He makes no momentous decisions or acts. As we will see in the next couple of chapters, his power depends completely upon Abner, and when Abner fails, he fails too. He was certainly a weak, puppet despot.
In this rival throne we may be tempted to see the seeds of the later “divided kingdom.” After Solomon, as is well known, the kingdom official divides between the northern ten tribes, “Israel,” and the southern kingdom of Judah. The seeds of such discord, however, were already in the works as early as the later chapters of Judges: tribes committed idolatry, stole land and idols from each other, and eventually “Israel” (including Judah at that time, Judg. 20:18) waged war on the tribe of Benjamin for its abominations. A legacy of disdain for Benjamin was established (Judg. 21), but the more general concept of division among the tribes is most important for later developments. Ironically, Saul later springs from Benjamin. His house is here seen as having won over all of Israel with the outlier now being Judah under David. It will be David’s work in the upcoming chapters to reunite the kingdom, though it would not last.
The rival king’s name was Ishbosheth, son of Saul (v. 8). Ishbosheth means “man of shame,” which is certainly not his given name. In 1 Samuel 14:49, he is listed as Saul’s son “Ishvi,” which probably is a shortened form of “man of Yaweh”—a more traditional Hebrew name. In 1 Chronicles 8:33, he is called Eshbaal, which means “man of the lord.” “Baal” here could mean the generic “lord,” or could possibly refer to the Canaanite idol by that name. If the latter, this would indicate that the northern tribes had already departed from Yaweh so far that it was acceptable for their king to assume the practice of the pagan kings in associating himself with the deity, perhaps even as the son of a deity. Given Saul’s prior recourse to a spirit-medium, as well as the long-standing syncretism already established in the book of Judges, this is certainly not outside the realm of possibility. Whatever these various names should indicate, “Ishbosheth” is used in this narrative in contrast to David’s throne which was being established by Yaweh. In defiance of this, Abner’s rival kingdom was an act of shame, and its pitiful front man was the face of shame. More acts of shame were about to follow.
Gibeon (v. 12) was much nearer to David’s Hebron than it was to Abner and Ishbosheth’s headquarters in Mahanaim. What was Abner doing all the way out there in Gibeon on David’s borders with a military detachment? They were certainly up to no good, for Gibeon was right on the border between Judah and the northern tribes. When David’s men went up to meet them, it was certainly no chance encounter. They were going up to confront a potential military threat on their border.
The two groups are said to meet at the pool of Gibeon. This “pool” was a large well, 88 feet deep, with a spiral staircase along its walls, chiseled through limestone all the way down to the water table. It had been a public-works project, inscribed on its walls, “for the king.” This landmark was probably considered the border between Judah and the northern tribes. Thus, they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool (v. 13). It was a standoff, and neither dared cross the line to be perceived as the aggressor.
Abner’s ambition was clear, however, else he would not have been there to begin with. It is clear again when he proposed a sporting contest between the young men on each side. David’s captain, Joab, matched the ambition with readiness. The young men all seem to have been as eager for blood, for when the “game” began, they each simultaneously ran the other through with their swords, and all 24 fell dead. So, either side could claim they did not start the aggression, yet both sides could be equally blamed, although Abner perhaps more obviously so. He proposed a game which gave occasion for bloodthirsty men to put into action what was already in their hearts. Here we see one of the reasons civil government checks-and-balances, as well as national borders, exist: to put serious, effective outward checks upon the evils that lurk in fallen men’s hearts. Knowing that power corrupts, when ambitious men acquire power and the checks of government are circumvented, society suffers, liberty suffers, life suffers. This was an unnecessary war. Able and needed men lost their lives because the men in positions of power, who should have been finding ways to check evil and promote peace, instead sought the cover of sport for their murderous ambitions.
This “game” unleashed a fierce battle between the two sides. We learn that in the end, 360 of Abner’s men and 20 of David’s died, some of whom were notables. In the course of these unnecessary atrocities, we read of the death of Asahel. Asahel was one of three sons of Zeruiah who are numbered among David’s elite “mighty men” (2 Sam. 23:8–39). Two things stand out in this narrative. First, Asahel brought his fate upon himself by chasing after the captain, and refusing to back down when he had clear warning. You can almost excuse him because, again, Abner had started this whole thing. Nevertheless, Asahel also could have helped deescalate the situation once given the opportunity. Second, with the death of one of David’s elite officers, the tragedy of what had just happened struck home with nearly everyone. From this we understand why all who came to the place where Asahel had fallen and died, stood still (v. 23). All, that is, except for Asahel’s two brothers: they were certainly hot and ready to avenge the death of their brother. Joab and Abishai pursued Abner until a group of Benjamites appeared to provide Abner backup, and the brothers faced a formidable challenge.
We later learn that Abishai once slew 300 enemies by himself (2 Sam. 23:18), so perhaps being outnumbered was not the main issue here. Whatever it was, Abner deceitfully waxed political at this point. Suddenly, in front of a group of men who had not witnessed the original event, Abner becomes a man seeking peace. His question to Joab and Abishai suggests they were responsible for the attack and bloodshed, and that all that needed to happen to stop the carnage was for them to call a halt to it. In doing this, he positioned himself as an innocent victim.
Despite the deceit, Joab decided to grant the truce requested. Unlike Asahel who ignored an opportunity, Joab saw that even a less-than-ideal peace was preferable to mass bloodshed. He does lodge a small protest of the situation by pointing out it only took Abner’s word to call it off (v. 27). If David’s men so easily agreed to cease-fire, after all, perhaps they were not the adamant aggressors after all, and Abner was thus hardly spotless.
This part of the narrative makes clear several points. Both sides were clearly in great tension, and both keen to guard their border and to defend the veracity of their respective thrones. When they met at the pool, they were both willing to fight. But it is clear that Abner was the aggressor, and that he both initiated and settled the fight on deceitful terms. Most importantly, this was a totally unnecessary battle. Instead of a statesman seeking diplomacy, we have a military commander thinking and acting only militaristic terms: he marched his army a long way out of its way to cause a confrontation, to escalate the confrontation, and then when beaten and in retreat, to find political cover for his offense and to blame others.
It was difficult enough for David that he had to win over most of the nation to begin with. It was worse that Abner installed a rival throne based on a dynastic mentality. These difficulties were heightened all the more now due to this skirmish, which Abner would be sure to publicize throughout Israel as the fault of David’s men. If David’s goal is to reunite the whole nation under his throne—and we shall see that it is—it is going to take far more than the political skill of men to bring it to pass. The obstacles being set up here, as we shall see, are God’s way not only of advancing David, but of completely eradicating the rivalry from the house of Saul, and thus more thoroughly solidifying David’s throne. God was putting the house of Saul in position to bring about its own great fall.
1. The advance of God’s Kingdom requires prayer.
Prayer ought to be at the forefront of everything we do. Here we see David with a long-anticipated, much-desired, and unprecedented opportunity. Yet he did not jump to seize it. The first thing he did was pray for assurance and guidance. Both of these aspects are crucial.
First, David prayed for assurance. He asked whether or not he should go up to any of the cities of Judah at all. So, too, when we see an open door, or some avenue or promotion we desire, we should check ourselves first. Is this so-called opportunity merely some lust of ours, or is it truly God’s will? It is easy to confuse the two, and very easy to convince ourselves of a calling that is not, especially when it comes with some perceived honor, or corresponds to some dream of ours. These ought to be matters of prayer.
The tragedy of Asahel is instructive here as well: he thought he had an opportunity and tried to seize it. Even given a chance to think it over he pursued it stubbornly. His pursuit of a wrong goal cost him his life, and the loss of such a great man jolted the entire company around him. His loss was not only to himself but to his host of comrades who needed and trusted in him. Let this be a lesson to us: when we rush into things too quickly, we may very well end up harming not only ourselves, but many of those around us.
Second, David prayed for guidance. Having a general “yes or no” question answered, we still need details. David could have received a green light from God, only to march off immediately to his hometown of Bethlehem or some other city of his own choosing. Instead, he asked for direction and detail in addition. God sent him to Hebron—perhaps understandable, but also perhaps not the first place he would have guessed. We can never anticipate how God will have us to serve, so let us be sure to ask Him how instead of presuming on our own.
Too often we see any open door period as a calling to enter it, and this is not always the safest course. Sometimes, perhaps, we see an open door as an answer to prayer when we really have not even prayed to begin with. It is just as rash to presume to walk through that door as it is to beat upon one God has clearly closed.
2. The advance of God’s Kingdom requires patience.
Just as the initiation of a work must be God’s doing, so must its maintenance and progress. Even after God gave David assurance and direction, He did not give David the whole kingdom. David may have desired the whole kingdom, and the circumstances may have made it seem proper in various ways. Indeed, David could have seized upon even the smallest piece of evidence to rationalize why he should have established a united rule at this time—even contrary to most other evidence. To avoid such temptations takes a patient reliance upon God’s providence. God so often brings about His promises in stages. While we always retain the grand vision in our head, we also accept whatever aspects He gives us as aspects of His promise, and we hope to build and work from there.
Just as it is often unwise to assume a calling without God’s will, it is also unwise to rush into some aspect of God’s will when it is not God’s timing. This, also, should be a matter of prayer. Nothing makes for such discouragement as a failure resulting from a legitimate calling that was rushed and forced by the will of man. Nothing is so discouraging because the rightness of God’s will gives any endeavor the strong feeling of legitimacy and righteousness; yet being rushed and forced, that which is right and good can fail, leaving the impatient one to question not only the endeavor but God Himself.
Despise not the day of small beginnings, and despite not the day of small steps as well. To accept great efforts resulting in only small steps, when a tremendous journey lay yet on the horizon, requires the utmost patience. But patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 5:22), and those in whom it is exercised bring glory to God in whatever increments He chooses to work in history.
3. The progress of God’s Kingdom requires work.
A slogan of the Benedictine order is, “ora et labora”: “pray and work.” Without subscribing to the monastic program, we can surely see the simple and powerful wisdom of this rule. We can also see David exemplifying it in this passage. He prays to God, God answers, and David receives that small portion of the kingdom God granted. But David knew there was much more work ahead. So he continued to work where he could.
We must all to adopt this mentality. We absolutely must pray, and absolutely must be patient. But we must never rest on our laurels either out of laziness or a false sense of piety. The latter is perhaps often an excuse for the former. Whether or not, it is quite common to see Christians uninvolved in kingdom work and quite frankly unconcerned for it, with the excuse that they pray and go to church and leave the rest to God. This is a false piety which is the result of either deceiving or having been deceived. It is deceiving if the person knows better. Most average Christians, however, have merely been deceived through the poor teaching of others.
God’s kingdom involves all areas of life, and there is no area in which the Christian is left without revelation and direction. Thus, there are relatively few aspects of life in which a Christian can say, “I simply pray and leave the rest to God.” Of course, there are so many things outside of our control which we must leave to God, and there are many times in which we have exhausted our knowledge of how to apply God’s word, but that word addresses far more than the average Christian has been led to believe. It addresses far more than is ever exhausted merely by praying, attending church, and singing worship songs. It addresses family, parenting, education, welfare, ethics, government, voting, money, banking, markets, courts, arms, military, debt, and much more.
In any given area of life, the believer needs to pray, but also needs to act faithfully and obediently with the revelation that has been given. If we work without prayer and direction, we certainly risk trying to build the kingdom by our own works. But if we pray and do not work, we are just as disobedient. In such a case, we are not build the kingdom by the works of men, but we are also not building it at all. In fact, we are then preventing the kingdom by the works of man. We do not protect ourselves by arguing that we did not want to build the kingdom by the works of men; for God has prepared works for us to do (Eph. 2:10). God’s kingdom, for sure, will not be built by the works of men, but it will be built by God working His works through men. If you are not working in some way for kingdom advancement, you are just as disobedient as the builders of Babel ever were with their works.
4. Beware the effects of militaristic culture.
The old saying is that “power corrupts,” but the corruption exists already in the hearts of men, power or not. Power only gives occasion for men to express their corruption with greater immunity. It is not so much that power breeds corruption, but that corruption seeks power, and in doing so, it seeks to consolidate power more and more for itself, to untie the checks that keep civil governments accountable, and thus make room for corruption to reign unchecked. When corrupt men consolidate the powers government, and most importantly, armies, you have a recipe for disaster.
Such a disaster is what we see here with Abner’s deadly game. He had no business arranging a military expedition on the border. It was a show of power and an invitation to a showdown, nothing more. We see the same kind of intimidation and taunting today when nations fly across the edge of another’s airspace, assume disputed lands, conducts naval maneuvers in sensitive international waters, and the like. Instead of seeking peace, nations race to see who can design the next most deadly weapons, and then improve upon the last ones. It is the lust for power unhinged and made into a contest.
This is not merely a game played by elites, but over time is a game that sweeps up all of society in its wake. The military devours money and subsumes industry. Soon there is a trillion-dollar military-industrial complex, and millions of people depend upon it for their livelihood. As such, they become fierce defenders of the need for military advancement and spending. Not only does the military become an economic interest that dominates society, but a psychological one as well. National greatness becomes tied to the size and strength of one’s military. This was the old pagan way, and God’s word specifically forbid it (Deut. 17:16; Psa. 20:7; 33:16–17; 44:16; Prov. 21:31; Hos. 1:7), but millions of Christians succumb to it today. Soon, patriotism itself demands you always support the military or else. Fighting replaces faithfulness as the mark of manliness, and domination replaces godly dominion. Sports grow increasingly violent, and hits that draw blood or cause injury draw the greatest awe. Victory entails destroying, defacing, and demeaning rather than merely defeating. In the end, the art of peacefulness is lost, and nations and people spend time studying and enhancing the skills of war and violence. This is just the opposite of what Scripture holds out as the vision toward which we should strive: “nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isa. 2:4).
The militaristic mindset reveals to us the nature of our depravity. Our sinful nature, because it is in rebellion against God, is in rebellion against His image. It this seeks to destroy that image as it seeks to destroy God. Thus it devalues the life of man and sees death as sport. Contests of blood are therefore no more than sport as well. For purposes of personal aggrandizement and jealous rivalry, our depraved nature does not hesitate to cast brother against brother in cruel, bloodthirsty murder. It thinks nothing of it.
After the fact, the depraved soul does not acknowledge its responsibility, just as Abner attempted to call for peace as if he had not been the one who first called for blood sport. No, the depraved soul looks for every justification, or deceit, it can find to cover its murderous acts of self and of civil government. These justifications will come under the guise of political support, patriotism, defense, national security, even national greatness—and bloodthirstiness will often be wed to those otherwise most vehemently “pro-life” and opposed to abortion.
A nation whose mind has been perverted by militarism can hold such stark antitheses without chagrin, will castigate as unpatriotic cowards any who expose their hypocrisies, and indeed will think they are doing God a favor in doing so. It should be a dire warning to us that we are already so far down this road. When we see Abner going out of his way to start military trouble—“policing the world,” so to speak, and we see Abner and Joab so flippant with soldiers as objects of sport, and we see the soldiers themselves so eager to draw first blood even of their own brethren, we ought to think very hard about the consequences of our own militarism. When we see glimpses of such things already in our own military and our own sports, we should not be shocked but terrified of where Scripture shows us it will lead. We also ought to consider why Scripture forbids such militarism in such prominent ways.
5. Pursue peace.
When we acknowledge the realities to which a militaristic mindset leads, we should cry out to God for peace. In doing so, we must acknowledge that peace requires peaceful men, and in doing that, we must repent of our great sins of violence and rage.
Jesus taught us, “be at peace with one another” (Mark. 9:50). Paul echoes, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Rom. 12:18), “live in peace” (2 Cor. 13:11), and “pursue what makes for peace” (Rom. 14:19). The author of Hebrews says, “Strive for peace with everyone” (Heb. 12:14). Peter says a Christian man will be one who “seeks peace and pursues it” (1 Pet. 3:11). These are not Hallmark platitudes; they are commands from God on how to live a holy life. It does not say “perhaps” or “if you feel like it.” They say “strive”—literally meaning to pursue or run for it. It does not say, “Someday in the distant future.” They are imperatives for us now, and have been since they were given in the First Century.
What we have done instead is carve out a doctrinal niche in which God’s word need not apply, and the lust for power runs unhindered. One problem is that so many Christians pervert and exploit the teaching of Romans 13. In this famous passage, we learn that it is civil government’s job to avenge evil. This is not the job of individuals, but of lawfully-sworn civil rulers. From this, it is admitted that Christian individuals ought to seek peace, but since civil government is allowed to impose vengeance, the leap is made to assume that the government need not consider peace a top priority. Thereby Christians expect their state (its armies and police) to expunge whatever they see as evil with little or no checks, hindrance, forethought, or righteous resistance.
The militaristic mindset wants to build walls, bomb “evil” nations, reinstitute torture, jail millions of people for all kinds of minor offenses, and maintain a “show of force” as a means of “keeping the peace”—but it knows nothing of peace. The problem with modern Christianity—and indeed a large swath of historic Christianity—is that it has separated the realms of the state and military apart from God’s revealed word. It has created a radical division between “two kingdoms”: the private kingdom of God and the church, and the general public and civil society. The private kingdom of God and church are ruled by the revealed word of God, they say, but we dare not “impose” God’s revealed standards upon the civil realm, for God rules that only by his secret providence. Here, Christians must repose and allow a mixture of Christians and pagans, or perhaps just pagans, to rule society by “natural” law (whatever that may be), or humanism, or whatever is the law de jure.
By unhinging the state from the checks of God’s revealed standards, and yet insisting that Christians remain civic minded, this doctrine actually creates a space in which Christians demand goals and methods from the state that are by definition not subject to God’s word. This means that when it comes to modern views of war and police, most Christians follow a doctrine which says they must not act like Christians. In short, when comes to addressing war and the military, Christians do not follow biblical, but pagan, doctrines—and this is said to be faithful Romans 13 submission to rulers!
Whenever there is any perceived or tangential evil out there, too many Christians advocate an immediate recourse to government-sanctioned violence or war, justified by the fact that purging evil is the state’s job. But this is a logical fallacy called “affirming the consequent.” Here is an example of how the fallacy works:
All cats have four legs.
My dog has four legs.
Therefore, my dog is a cat.
In terms of the perversion of the state’s role, it often works like this:
The state exists to punish evil.
X (whatever it may be) is evil.
Therefore, the state must punish X.
What is being missed here? The example of cats and dogs makes clear that a mere shared similarity does not establish an link. There are other factors that determine such a fact, and a mere similarity in one area can hardly establish it. Likewise, the fact that the state is God’s agent to punish evil does not mean that the state is authorized to punish any and all evils out there in the world, nor to do so however it wishes. God’s word has set standards for when, where, and how the state is authorized to do so. When Romans 13 says the job of the state is to “punish evil,” that is defined by what God’s law says both about evil and about punishment.
What is being missed in the big picture here is that God calls Christians and their societies to pursue peace, and that peace itself ought to be the goal of civil government. When it is called to punish evil, it is called to do so for the purpose of protecting what is good in society. The moment it steps outside God’s prescription for war, military, punishment of crimes, etc., that moment the state itself begins to add to the evil in society. This may be done in the name of patriotism, freedom, life, or whatever other good, but it is diminishing those things as it does. Any “peace” that is kept in this way is not peace, but oppression and evil.
If Christians do not cultivate an ethic of peace for themselves, they will not uphold it as a social ideal. If Christians do not uphold it as a social ideal, no one will. If Christians do not hold the state itself within the bounds of God’s law, there can be no peace. In our culture, militarism has taken over to a large degree. We have few men who love and pursue peace anymore, and Christians are taught to follow the world in these areas rather than revelation. Yet this is such a fundamental element of the Christian faith. We need to restore it as a priority once again.