By Heart or By Sword? Dealing with Spiritual Enemies

8986723_sThe first time I would have come across David’s story, would have been as a child learning about David and Goliath. From then on, I always saw David as the perfect warrior: always ready to fight; and as necessary, he would kill. Then as I started this project and began to study him properly, I got quite a shock. David didn’t always kill. He knew when to act and when not to act and he based those decisions on Biblical laws and sought the Lord for guidance.

I am not the only one who considered that kind of attitude to be uncharacteristic for a warrior. His General and nephew, Joab, lived by the sword, which led to him being demoted by David and having his family cursed for killing outside of the battlefield. [Ref: 2 Samuel 3:1-30] “So may the Lord replay these evil men for their evil deeds.” [v 39b]

Several times, Joab wanted to assassinate a direct threat to David’s life and kingship. Each time, David said no, for righteous reasons, even though his refusal flew in the face of military common sense. (In saying that, the time his son Absalom attempted to overthrow his father may be the exception. What father could readily assassinate his child; especially considering the guilt he felt towards Absalom?)

During each of these threats, David looked to the Lord for protection. Then what happened? The General Joab, who could only see one way forward, that of the sword, killed when he shouldn’t have. Each time David was furious and bereaved. It illustrates the battle between faith and flesh, peace and violence. David wasn’t just a warrior; he was a man of worship and he appeared to hate losing any lives unnecessarily. [Ref: 2 Samuel 3:32-35 and 4:1-12]

David’s attitude when threatened, is outlined in his own words below from Psalm 11.
“I trust in the LORD for protection.
So why do you say to me,
“Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!
The wicked are stringing their bows
and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.
They shoot from the shadows
at those whose hearts are right.
The foundations of law and order have collapsed.
What can the righteous do?”
But the LORD is in his holy Temple;
the LORD still rules from heaven.
He watches everyone closely,
examining every person on earth.
The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked.
He hates those who love violence.
He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulphur on the wicked,
punishing them with scorching winds.
For the righteous LORD loves justice.
The virtuous will see his face.”

When I think about this aspect of David’s life, I stop and consider our modern attitude to spiritual warfare. There are those of us who believe that demons are behind every form of trouble in the world and who instantaneously pull out the Word to attack and defend themselves; then those who wait of the Lord to determine what course of action He wants them to take and then act in peace and obedience and find the Lord’s deliverance, rather than the stress of worrying about what malice lurks in every corner.

The Word of God, through David’ story, makes the action that we should take clear. We should not harm other people, we shouldn’t jump to battle without seeking the Lord and the basis of deliverance is always trust. There are times when the Lord may have us take a warfare approach to the enemy, but to advance towards enemy lines without stopping and seeking his Will first will always be a mistake.

Don’t become a Joab. Don’t be seen as uncontrollable and bring more trouble upon yourself and your family. Trust in the Lord for protection and you will be safe.


Creative Commons License
The King David Project by Cate Russell-Cole is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

Please note that this does NOT apply to any of the images on this site except for the free Psalm images which are marked as free. Most photos are purchased stock photos. It is ILLEGAL for you to take and use them, whether for yourself, commercially or for a non-profit venture such as a church or Bible Study. If you have not bought these photos from the source, the stock photography company has every right to sue you.