David
We learn more about God's view of bloodshed from David. David is a man who loved God and who was loved by God. God raised him up to defend Israel. God sent David to physically fight to defend Israel. When David killed Goliath and Philistines in battles, it was at God's command. They were righteous killings. Now, with that understanding, let's look at a few passages:

1 Chronicles 28:3 "But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.'

1 Chronicles 22:8 But the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.

David wants to build a house for the Lord. This is a good desire. But God says, "David, you are disqualified from doing this." Why? Not because of the murder of Uriah. Not because of his adultery with Bathsheba. It is because of the wars, and because David had
"shed much blood upon the earth in my sight." David had killed men in the sight of God, and that disqualified him from this spiritual service.

But wasn't David obeying God in engaging in these wars? Yes. Did David sin in shedding this blood? No. But shedding blood is so significant to God that David was unfit to for certain "ministries".

Killing someone is not a light thing. Our culture casually depicts killing. In television, movies, and video games, killing, whether it is legitimate or illegitimate killing, is portrayed with such a frequency that most people are relatively desensitized to it.

Here is the bottom line: Shedding blood, taking the life of another, is a big deal. Your life is forfeit if you wrongfully take the life of another. Even if you take life in a permitted manner, it is serious enough that it can disqualify you from certain types of spiritual service. Even if you are the "good guy", you are "marked" in the eyes of God. I didn't say you are guilty. I am merely showing that God viewed Godly David differently because David had killed men (though righteously).

Bloodshed must have the same significance to us. It is never a light thing, even if you are in the right, even if you do it righteously.

As we move on, I want to ask this question: Does the believer have an obligation to resist evil and to protect life? Think about it.

Having looked at the obligation to preserve life, and the Biblical view of bloodshed, let's now look at passages dealing with self-defense and the use of lethal force.

Old Testament Passages on Lethal Force and Self-defense
We start in the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:13
Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder.

Murder is wrong. This means the premeditated killing of others is wrong. Killing in a fit of emotion is also wrong and is prohibited here. But as we will see later, accidently taking the life of another is wrong. We must do all that we can to avoid it and stay as far away as possible from taking life.

Having stated this prohibition, let's look at some of the qualifiers to this prohibition.

Leviticus 24:16-17
Leviticus 24:16-17 16 'And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death. 17 ' Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.

From verse 17, we see that "killing" was a crime requiring capital punishment. "Killing" here is defined above. But note that not all killing is wrong. In the immediately preceding verse 16, there were times (such as in civil judgments) in which "killing" was commanded and sanctioned. Blasphemers were to be killed. Likewise, in verse 17 itself it commands that "whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death." So we already see two qualifiers to the command "thou shalt not kill."

Killing a man in capital punishment for murder or blasphemy was permissible.

We saw earlier in the examples of the ox and the roof that if you caused someone's death through your negligence, you were also deserving of capital punishment. So, killing a man for causing negligent death was permissible.

Exodus 21:12-15, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13
Exodus 21:12-15, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13 give further qualifications to the prohibition to kill. Here the Lord deals with accidental killing where there is no negligence.

God defines accidental killing this way in Deut. 19:4: "...whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past...". It even gives an example: "as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies".

These passages establish the cities of refuge. If you are not familiar with the system described here, I commend it for your study.

God says here, if you commit unintentional killing--that is, if you accidently kill someone, and it is not motivated by anger or hatred, and there is no negligence involved--then your life is forfeited. You are guilty of killing and could be put to death by the avenger of blood, but there is a way of escape. If you committed accidental killing, and there was no negligence, you would not be put to death if you fled to one of the designated cities of refuge.

This is like house arrest. In fact, it is stronger than house arrest! Number 35:25ff says that if you wander out of the city of refuge, you may be put to death if the avenger of blood finds you. The person guilty of accidental killing had to stay in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Then he was free to return home. (By the way, this is a beautiful picture of Christ's work—Christ, the city of refuge in whom we must remain hidden! And Christ is the high priest whose death takes our guilt and sets us free.)

It shows that killing someone accidently, with no malice, without negligence, made your life forfeit. It was almost as serious as murder in God's eyes. God makes a merciful provision, but it did not remove the fact that you were worthy of death for unintentional killing.

Premeditated, intentional killing, as well as killing in passion, was absolutely forbidden. Such a one had no protection in the cities of refuge and was to be handed over and put to death (Ex. 21:14f, Deut. 19:11ff, Num 35:16ff ).

This far, we see that killing someone out of 1) hatred, 2) negligence, or 3) sheer accident were subject to capital punishment. In the case of sheer accident without negligence, God established a network of cities of refuge which made merciful provision to spare the life of the killer. With that important background, let's look at passages speaking about victims of crime.

Exodus 22:2-3
Exodus 22:2-3 2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed.

There are two cases here. In the first case, if someone breaks into your home at night, and you kill him, you are not held guilty of murder. You are not deserving of capital punishment. You do not need to flee to a city of refuge to preserve your life. The understanding is that at night, it is dark, and if someone has invaded your house, they do not announce if they are there merely to steal jewelry and tools. In the dark, you have no way of knowing if someone is coming to kidnap, to rape, or to murder. You are thus blameless if the criminal is killed in that situation. The passage does make it clear that if a man is breaking in at night with the intent of theft or worse (rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.), the defendant can righteously defend himself with lethal force to prevent the commission of the crime.

In the second case, it says "if the sun has risen on him", and you kill the intruder, you are guilty of his bloodshed. The understanding is that in daytime, there is light, and you can discern the intentions of the home invader. The crime in question here is theft ("if the thief"). It is not legitimate to kill someone who is merely stealing your property. In creating civil laws, we see here that not all crimes are worthy of death.

In the daytime, it is assumed that the intention of the intruder can be discerned. If he is a thief, he may not be killed by the defendant. However, if the intruder is there to commit a different crime—assault, murder, kidnapping, rape, etc.—different laws/rules would apply. Though the crime of theft is not worthy of death, kidnapping was worthy of death (Exodus 21:16, Deut. 24:7) as was murder.

Matthew Henry writes: "...if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it, unless it was in the necessary defense of his own life. ... We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves."

Now let's look at two examples of defending your own life against murderers.
Nehemiah 4:8-23
In Nehemiah 4, Israelites have been sent back from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem. They were rebuilding their lives with the sanction of the civil ruler, King Artaxerxes. This was not a wartime scenario. It was closer to a racial integration scenario where racists wanted to kill them. Think of the KKK threatening black homeowners and students. They are surrounded by people who hate them and want to kill them.

These were citizens, not soldiers. Nehemiah 4:13 says that people stationed "people by families" around the city. These were not trained soldiers or law enforcement officers. They were merely concerned residents and settlers—citizens, not professional soldiers or law enforcement agents.

Note that these families were armed, with "their swords, their spears, and their bows." This is a situation where they are willing to apply lethal force to defend themselves.

Let's briefly discuss swords, spears, and bows. Swords and daggers killed Ehud, Amasa, and eighty priests. At longer ranges, we know bows and slings killed men like Goliath, King Joram, and King Ahab. Spears killed men like Asahel, Absaolm, the Israelite man and the Midianitish woman, and many others. These are handguns, shotguns, and rifles. These are implements of lethal force. In fact, at close range, a sword is more deadly than a handgun. These ancient weapons are as deadly as their modern counterparts.

Note that they are carrying these weapons for personal defense and civil defense, and that these are "assault weapons", namely, the same types of weapons that armies would use for offensive purposes. And why wouldn't they want assault weapons (for those weapons are the most effective weapons for defending oneself)? Why would you not want to use the best tools available for the task at hand?

Against what are they defending themselves? The crime of unlawful, racist murder. Hate crimes. They are defending their lives and their homes. Nehemiah 4:14 specifically says, "...fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." It is good and right to defend your family, even using lethal force weapons.

One final observation: In self-defense, these citizens did not merely own weapons. Rather, where they perceived a risk of harm to their persons, they carried their weapons with them, as many people legally carry weapons with them today, for the purpose of self-protection:

Nehemiah 4 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. ... 21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. .... 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water.

If you live somewhere where you have reason to be concerned about crime, this would be similar to legally carrying a weapon to defend your family, even when running daily errands to the store.
David We learn more about God's view of bloodshed from David. David is a man who loved God and who was loved by God. God raised him up to defend Israel. God sent David to physically fight to defend Israel. When David killed Goliath and Philistines in battles, it was at God's command. They were righteous killings. Now, with that understanding, let's look at a few passages: 1 Chronicles 28:3 "But God said to me, 'You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.' 1 Chronicles 22:8 But the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build a house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. David wants to build a house for the Lord. This is a good desire. But God says, "David, you are disqualified from doing this." Why? Not because of the murder of Uriah. Not because of his adultery with Bathsheba. It is because of the wars, and because David had "shed much blood upon the earth in my sight." David had killed men in the sight of God, and that disqualified him from this spiritual service. But wasn't David obeying God in engaging in these wars? Yes. Did David sin in shedding this blood? No. But shedding blood is so significant to God that David was unfit to for certain "ministries". Killing someone is not a light thing. Our culture casually depicts killing. In television, movies, and video games, killing, whether it is legitimate or illegitimate killing, is portrayed with such a frequency that most people are relatively desensitized to it. Here is the bottom line: Shedding blood, taking the life of another, is a big deal. Your life is forfeit if you wrongfully take the life of another. Even if you take life in a permitted manner, it is serious enough that it can disqualify you from certain types of spiritual service. Even if you are the "good guy", you are "marked" in the eyes of God. I didn't say you are guilty. I am merely showing that God viewed Godly David differently because David had killed men (though righteously). Bloodshed must have the same significance to us. It is never a light thing, even if you are in the right, even if you do it righteously. As we move on, I want to ask this question: Does the believer have an obligation to resist evil and to protect life? Think about it. Having looked at the obligation to preserve life, and the Biblical view of bloodshed, let's now look at passages dealing with self-defense and the use of lethal force. Old Testament Passages on Lethal Force and Self-defense We start in the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:13 Exodus 20:13 You shall not murder. Murder is wrong. This means the premeditated killing of others is wrong. Killing in a fit of emotion is also wrong and is prohibited here. But as we will see later, accidently taking the life of another is wrong. We must do all that we can to avoid it and stay as far away as possible from taking life. Having stated this prohibition, let's look at some of the qualifiers to this prohibition. Leviticus 24:16-17 Leviticus 24:16-17 16 'And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death. 17 ' Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death. From verse 17, we see that "killing" was a crime requiring capital punishment. "Killing" here is defined above. But note that not all killing is wrong. In the immediately preceding verse 16, there were times (such as in civil judgments) in which "killing" was commanded and sanctioned. Blasphemers were to be killed. Likewise, in verse 17 itself it commands that "whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death." So we already see two qualifiers to the command "thou shalt not kill." Killing a man in capital punishment for murder or blasphemy was permissible. We saw earlier in the examples of the ox and the roof that if you caused someone's death through your negligence, you were also deserving of capital punishment. So, killing a man for causing negligent death was permissible. Exodus 21:12-15, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13 Exodus 21:12-15, Numbers 35:6-34, and Deuteronomy 19:1-13 give further qualifications to the prohibition to kill. Here the Lord deals with accidental killing where there is no negligence. God defines accidental killing this way in Deut. 19:4: "...whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him in time past...". It even gives an example: "as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies". These passages establish the cities of refuge. If you are not familiar with the system described here, I commend it for your study. God says here, if you commit unintentional killing--that is, if you accidently kill someone, and it is not motivated by anger or hatred, and there is no negligence involved--then your life is forfeited. You are guilty of killing and could be put to death by the avenger of blood, but there is a way of escape. If you committed accidental killing, and there was no negligence, you would not be put to death if you fled to one of the designated cities of refuge. This is like house arrest. In fact, it is stronger than house arrest! Number 35:25ff says that if you wander out of the city of refuge, you may be put to death if the avenger of blood finds you. The person guilty of accidental killing had to stay in a city of refuge until the death of the high priest. Then he was free to return home. (By the way, this is a beautiful picture of Christ's work—Christ, the city of refuge in whom we must remain hidden! And Christ is the high priest whose death takes our guilt and sets us free.) It shows that killing someone accidently, with no malice, without negligence, made your life forfeit. It was almost as serious as murder in God's eyes. God makes a merciful provision, but it did not remove the fact that you were worthy of death for unintentional killing. Premeditated, intentional killing, as well as killing in passion, was absolutely forbidden. Such a one had no protection in the cities of refuge and was to be handed over and put to death (Ex. 21:14f, Deut. 19:11ff, Num 35:16ff ). This far, we see that killing someone out of 1) hatred, 2) negligence, or 3) sheer accident were subject to capital punishment. In the case of sheer accident without negligence, God established a network of cities of refuge which made merciful provision to spare the life of the killer. With that important background, let's look at passages speaking about victims of crime. Exodus 22:2-3 Exodus 22:2-3 2 "If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt for his bloodshed. 3 "If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. There are two cases here. In the first case, if someone breaks into your home at night, and you kill him, you are not held guilty of murder. You are not deserving of capital punishment. You do not need to flee to a city of refuge to preserve your life. The understanding is that at night, it is dark, and if someone has invaded your house, they do not announce if they are there merely to steal jewelry and tools. In the dark, you have no way of knowing if someone is coming to kidnap, to rape, or to murder. You are thus blameless if the criminal is killed in that situation. The passage does make it clear that if a man is breaking in at night with the intent of theft or worse (rape, murder, kidnapping, etc.), the defendant can righteously defend himself with lethal force to prevent the commission of the crime. In the second case, it says "if the sun has risen on him", and you kill the intruder, you are guilty of his bloodshed. The understanding is that in daytime, there is light, and you can discern the intentions of the home invader. The crime in question here is theft ("if the thief"). It is not legitimate to kill someone who is merely stealing your property. In creating civil laws, we see here that not all crimes are worthy of death. In the daytime, it is assumed that the intention of the intruder can be discerned. If he is a thief, he may not be killed by the defendant. However, if the intruder is there to commit a different crime—assault, murder, kidnapping, rape, etc.—different laws/rules would apply. Though the crime of theft is not worthy of death, kidnapping was worthy of death (Exodus 21:16, Deut. 24:7) as was murder. Matthew Henry writes: "...if it was in the day-time that the thief was killed, he that killed him must be accountable for it, unless it was in the necessary defense of his own life. ... We ought to be tender of the lives even of bad men; the magistrate must afford us redress, and we must not avenge ourselves." Now let's look at two examples of defending your own life against murderers. Nehemiah 4:8-23 In Nehemiah 4, Israelites have been sent back from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem. They were rebuilding their lives with the sanction of the civil ruler, King Artaxerxes. This was not a wartime scenario. It was closer to a racial integration scenario where racists wanted to kill them. Think of the KKK threatening black homeowners and students. They are surrounded by people who hate them and want to kill them. These were citizens, not soldiers. Nehemiah 4:13 says that people stationed "people by families" around the city. These were not trained soldiers or law enforcement officers. They were merely concerned residents and settlers—citizens, not professional soldiers or law enforcement agents. Note that these families were armed, with "their swords, their spears, and their bows." This is a situation where they are willing to apply lethal force to defend themselves. Let's briefly discuss swords, spears, and bows. Swords and daggers killed Ehud, Amasa, and eighty priests. At longer ranges, we know bows and slings killed men like Goliath, King Joram, and King Ahab. Spears killed men like Asahel, Absaolm, the Israelite man and the Midianitish woman, and many others. These are handguns, shotguns, and rifles. These are implements of lethal force. In fact, at close range, a sword is more deadly than a handgun. These ancient weapons are as deadly as their modern counterparts. Note that they are carrying these weapons for personal defense and civil defense, and that these are "assault weapons", namely, the same types of weapons that armies would use for offensive purposes. And why wouldn't they want assault weapons (for those weapons are the most effective weapons for defending oneself)? Why would you not want to use the best tools available for the task at hand? Against what are they defending themselves? The crime of unlawful, racist murder. Hate crimes. They are defending their lives and their homes. Nehemiah 4:14 specifically says, "...fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses." It is good and right to defend your family, even using lethal force weapons. One final observation: In self-defense, these citizens did not merely own weapons. Rather, where they perceived a risk of harm to their persons, they carried their weapons with them, as many people legally carry weapons with them today, for the purpose of self-protection: Nehemiah 4 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. ... 21 So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. .... 23 So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. If you live somewhere where you have reason to be concerned about crime, this would be similar to legally carrying a weapon to defend your family, even when running daily errands to the store.
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