Category Archives: Armour and Weaponry

Just Joking

Proverbs 26:18-19

“As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?”
“Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” – NIV
Crazy Arrows

OK, so let’s stop and think about this one for a moment. Try to get a mental picture of what is being described in verse eighteen. Picture a crazy man, a lunatic, a maniac, shooting flaming arrows into the the air. Can you picture a man shooting arrows into the sky? Well, I’m sad to say, “I can.”

It might not be good for me to share this, but back in the day when I was young and stupid (and most certainly unwise), a friend of mine got hold of a bow and arrow. Standing in the middle of my friends yard, we got the bright idea that it would be fun to shoot the arrow straight up into the sky, out of sight, then go after it when it came back down. If you can’t picture a crazy mad man with flaming arrows of death, imagine two 14 year-old’s staring into the sky waiting for an aluminum arrow of death to fall.

Oh, it was such fun waiting for the arrow to fall from the sky…until punched a hole in my friend’s roof!

“How am I going to explain that hole to my dad?” he asked in panic. “Things fall from the sky every day, like from airplanes, over-laden sparrows (OK, I didn’t say that), and stuff,” I replied. “Just don’t say anything, and maybe he’ll never notice.” Too bad he did.

Hurtful Neighbors

In a way, I was a hurtful neighbor. I was the one who was responsible for a falling arrow, deceit, and a lousy excuse. However, it could have been much worse; somebody could have been seriously hurt, or killed. But there are worse things to fire off into the air than arrows of death: words.

As arrows are hurtful, so are deceitful words, for they pierce deeply. Only a crazy man thinks he can make jokes, criticize, and even talk about someone behind his back for so long without a projectile falling back to earth and piercing one’s heart.

There is nothing funny about deceit. Saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I was only joking” will rarely heal broken trust and damaged friendships. But there is also something else to consider: as with falling arrows, sometimes the hurtful things we do to others can come screaming down on our own heads.

Arrows of death don’t care where they land.


A Difficult Thought

Proverbs 26:10

“The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.”
“Like an archer who wounds everyone is one who hires a passing fool or drunkard.” – ESV

This proverb is a challenging one because of how many different ways it could be translated. As a matter of fact, practically every scholarly commentary admits the Hebrew in this proverb is difficult to interpret. That is why I am going to quote several of them before I leave my final thought for you.

Spence-Jones (The Pulpit Commentary)

Few passages have given greater difficulty than this verse; almost every word has been differently explained. The Authorized Version is, The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors; Revised Version, As an archer (Job 16:13) that woundeth all, so is he that hireth the fool and he that hireth them that pass by. At first sight one would hardly suppose that these could be versions of the same passage. [1]

Garrett (The New American Commentary)

The Hebrew of v. 10 is almost unintelligible and thus subject to numerous interpretations, all of which are hypothetical. As the NIV has it, the verse reaffirms that one should not commit important tasks to fools (as in v. 6). Notwithstanding all the difficulties of the text, that does seem to be the main point.[2]

Friedrich and Delitzsch (Commentary on the Old Testament)

All that we have hitherto read is surpassed in obscurity by this proverb, which is here connected because of the resemblance of ושכר to שכור. We translate it thus, vocalizing differently only one word:

            Much bringeth forth from itself all; But the reward and the hirer of the fool pass away.[3]

Matthew Henry

Matthew Henry

Our translation [KJV] gives this verse a different reading in the text and in the margin; and accordingly it expresses either, 1. The equity of a good God. The Master, or Lord (so Rab signifies), or, as we read it, The great God that formed all things at first, and still governs them in infinite wisdom, renders to every man according to his work. … Or, 2. The iniquity of a bad prince (so the margin reads it): A great man grieves all, and he hires the fool; he hires also the transgressors. When a wicked man gets power in his hand, by himself, and by the fools and knaves whom he employs under him, whom he hires and chooses to make use of, he grieves all who are under him and is vexatious to them. We should therefore pray for kings and all in authority, that, under them, our lives may be quiet and peaceable.[4]

Anthony Baker (Proverbial Thought)

So, here is what I think. Feel free to quote me 200 years from now.

A man is a fool when he employs a fool to complete a task. However, the biggest fool is one who thinks God, the Almighty Archer, will miss the target when He holds the wicked accountable.

We are always under His watchful eye, but the fool is never out of His “sights.”


[1] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Proverbs, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 500.

[2] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 14, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993), 213.

[3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 6 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 387.

[4] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994).


Slings and Stones

Proverbs 26:8

“As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.”

Sling Shots

I used to own a pretty sweet sling shot. It had a handle shaped like a pistol grip, along with a metal brace that would go over my forearm. Attached to the forks was rubber tubing and a leather pouch. I could put a lead or steal ball in that sling shot and kill an elephant (at least in my imagination). However, the sling shot that I had as a child could not compare to the ones that were used during biblical times.

Home-made sling.

Home-made sling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one that David used against Goliath was a serious weapon which required considerable skill to use. Sure, my sling shot could kill small vermin and knock down targets at close range, but the type of slings Solomon was referring to could, and did, kill people. In Judges 20:16 we read how the Benjamites had 700 left-handed slingers who could aim at a hair and not miss. In 2 Kings 2:35 we read how that the Israelites used slings in warfare. As a matter of fact, lead shot used by the Greeks and Romans in warfare could have an effective range of over 200 yards.

Amazingly, even though the sling was in use over 3,000 years ago, it is still being used today as a weapon by survivalists and fighters alike.  It would seem that its simple construction, ease of use, low cost, unlimited availability of projectiles, and deadly potential could keep the sling in use forever. In the hands of a trained slinger, it is practically foolproof…unless you bind the stone.

Bound Stones

As good of a weapon that the sling shot is, it is worthless if the stone or shot never leaves the pouch. Sometimes a stone can fall out of the pouch by accident, but putting another one in only takes a second. But the idea of securing the stone to the sling so that it never leaves is like plugging the end of a rifle.

But this is what Solomon is trying to explain. Honor, prestige, wealth, giftedness, glory: all of these things are wonderful tools which can be used to great effect by the wise man. However, when in the possession of the fool, all of these things, especially honor, are worthless.

Implications

Solomon is speaking to the one who actually gives honor to a fool. The fool doesn’t posses honor on his own, but has it given to him. The warning in this verse is really aimed at the one who needs the stone thrown.

Some people will honor people who don’t deserve it with promotions and bonuses, thinking that those blessings will make the fool more of an asset. The problem is that the fool will not share in the honor given, nor will he use it appropriately. Therefore, instead of being useful, the fool has now become a liability, much like a soldier who refuses to fight.

Beware of political correctness. Beware of honoring for the sake of honoring. The one who truly makes honor worthless is the one who gives it to the fool in the first place.

 


How Are Your Walls?

Proverbs 25:28

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

City Walls

Most cities today have no walls; they are usually protected from invaders in other ways. But back in the days of Solomon it was common to see a city with large walls built around it for defense. Without those tall, stone walls, much like what we would imagine circling a castle, a city would be completely vulnerable to attack.

English: Building the Wall of Jerusalem; as in...

In the Old Testament we can read of a man named Nehemiah who realized the importance of city walls. When one of his brothers came to visit, he asked how things were going in Jerusalem. That’s when he found out the bad news.

“They said to me, “Things are not going well for those who returned to the province of Judah. They are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem has been torn down, and the gates have been destroyed by fire.” When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.” – Nehemiah 1:3-4 NLT

Later, Nehemiah went before King Artaxerxes, the kink in whose court he served, to ask permission to rebuild the wall. His request was graciously accepted, and the king even provided the materials needed for the job. However, none of this would have happened had Nehemiah not realized the humiliating and dangerous predicament Jerusalem was in. They needed walls.

Walls of Discipline

Solomon knew what he was talking about when he wrote this proverb, for he knew about human desire. But, as a king, he also knew about city walls and the need for defense. He recognized the similarity between a defenseless city and the undisciplined, careless soul.

A person who has no control over his desires is like a city that parties away the night without any clue that an invasion is imminent.

He with no rule over his own spirit is like a city full of treasures ready to be plundered.

The one with no self-control invites destruction.

Maybe it is time we share the burden of Nehemiah and repair the broken down walls in our own lives. 


True Safety

Proverbs 21:31

“The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.”

American Might

joint colors

The U.S. Joint Service Color Guard (Wikipedia)

As an American, I benefit from the protection of the greatest military fighting force in the world. Some may differ with my assessment, but no invaders have yet to destroy us. No army, air force, or navy has near the combined resources which are at our disposal. If it was our desire as a nation, any country harboring enemy combatants could cease to exist in less than 24 hours.

America is still, despite it’s flaws, despite it’s leadership, a “giant” to be reckoned with. She is not to be underestimated or trifled with. Though she may be in moral slumber, as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto found out the hard way, she can be “awakened.”

The Soldier’s Creed

I am an American Soldier.
I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values.
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
I am disciplined, physically and mentally tough, trained and proficient in my warrior tasks and drills. I always maintain my arms, my equipment and myself.
I am an expert and I am a professional.
I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.
I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life.
I am an American Soldier.

True Safety

Nevertheless, America is only a nation of men – flawed men, at that. And despite the power of her military, the greatest kingdoms have always fallen from within.

America, the country who’s motto is “In God We Trust,” has not only forgotten God, but has leadership in her military who is actively seeking to remove any vestige of His name. America’s leaders need to remember that God not only changes the seasons and times, but he “removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21).

One of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, declared to those drafting our Constitution…

“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”

What has changed? We have tanks and armored troop carriers instead of horses, but are we any more safe without the Lord? NO!

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the LORD, [who is worthy] to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. – Psalm 18:2-3 NKJV

Oh, America! Remember the God of your youth! Especially during this election season!


Scale Those Walls

Proverbs 21:22

A wise [man] scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.

Impregnable

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective impregnable as “unable to be captured or broken into…unable to be overcome.”* It was used to describe such places as the Maginot Line, the Ardennes Forest, Fortress Singapore, Fortress Europe, and even America.

A similar word to impregnable is unsinkable. It was an adjective used to describe the Titanic, and we all know how that turned out – the “unsinkable ship” lies rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic.

Sadly, many have placed their faith in the supposed strength and security of fortress walls, only to find out too late that they were unprepared to deal with resourceful invaders. Many have even trusted their lives to the audacious claims of engineers who defied the Almighty. This proverb reminds us that even the cities of the mighty can fall.

Scalable 

The same dictionary that defined impregnable also gives us a definition of scalable: “able to be scaled or climbed.” Believe it or not, there are a lot of walls built by the enemy which are thought to be impregnable, impenetrable, and impassable. They act as fortresses to rebuff any advance. In other cases they act as prisons to keep locked away the captive.

Happily, this proverb reminds us that the wise do not have to give up or walk away when faced with barriers to victory. If history tells us anything, it tells us that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And hallelujah!, when it’s God’s will, there’s ALWAYS a way.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV

 

*Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).


The Art of War

Proverbs 20:18 

Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice. (NLT)

A Chinese General by the name of Sun Tzu is attributed with authorship of a book called the ‘Art of War.’ It is widely believed that Sun Tzu lived several hundred years before Jesus Christ. While there is some controversy over the identity of Sun Tzu, scholars have established that The Art of War has been in existence for at least 2,200 years. It is a book is that is studied by those in the corporate world, as well as those in the military.

The Wikipedia entry for The Art of War states: Sun Tzu considered war as a necessary evil that must be avoided whenever possible. In the introduction to my copy the translator writes: As in the story of the ancient healers, in Sun Tzu’s philosophy the peak efficiency of knowledge and strategy is to make conflict altogether unnecessary: “To overcome others’ armies without fighting is the best of skills.”

Reading such statements reminds me of the way that Jesus lived. Prophecies about Jesus were recorded before The Art of War was written. In Isaiah 53 the prophet speaks of One who would be oppressed and afflicted, but not open His mouth in resistance. These Old Testament writings appeared to be lost on their readership, for the Messiah that the Jewish race expected was a mighty military leader who would crush their oppressors, not One who would be oppressed.

Ordinarily, the execution of one man 2,000 years ago should not have made a mark on history, but the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changed history forever. Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus had never lived. The fact that He lived, died and rose again gives all humanity hope for tomorrow. If the corporate world can use the writings of an ancient Chinese general to formulate strategy, then how is it that the world continues largely to ignore the teachings of Jesus, which are similar in this instance, but lead to a blessed eternity spent forever in the presence of God?

Like Sun Tzu Jesus taught his followers a better way to overcome their enemies. He said: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42 NIV)

Reference: Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Translated by Thomas Cleary), Shambhala, 1988