For Warrior Devotional #2, I want to talk about a flawed mindset that far too many Warriors have adopted: making their tools into talismans. This devotional ties very closely to a blog post I recently wrote for Personal Defense Network, and some posts that my peers have written about the topic in recent weeks, which can be found here:
A talisman is an object that is believed to possess some sort of magical or supernatural property that allows its possessor to “ward off evil” merely by possessing it. All too often, well-meaning armed citizens elevate their defensive tools to this irrational level by believing that simply possessing a firearm will somehow “keep them safe” in and of itself. Not only is this belief rationally flawed, the Scripture cautions against it. Our scripture passage for today is Psalm 44:1-8 (NASB), with an emphasis on verses 6 and 7:
1 For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. O God, we have heard with our ears, Our fathers have told us The work that You did in their days, In the days of old.
2 You with Your own hand drove out the nations; Then You planted them; You afflicted the peoples, Then You spread them abroad.
3 For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.
4 You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob.
5 Through You we will push back our adversaries; Through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.
6. For I will not trust in my bow, Nor will my sword save me.
7 But You have saved us from our adversaries, And You have put to shame those who hate us.
8 In God we have boasted all day long, And we will give thanks to Your name forever.
Here we have a Psalm that pays homage to the history of the Jewish people and their victories in the battles for the conquest of Canaan. The history of the conquest of Canaan is contained mostly in the book of Joshua. During this period of Jewish history, the people of Israel were commanded by God to drive the pagan inhabitants out of their land by military force. There were many great battles fought, such as the well known Battle of Jericho, and there were many great military commanders and strategies that were employed throughout. However, the overriding theme of the conquest, as well as this memorial Psalm, is that the Lord provided the victory. Though the battles were fought with human hands and weapons of iron, the victory ultimately belonged to the Lord.
It is important to note that on the occasions where the people of Israel started to put too much faith in their weapons and human abilities, they learned some hard lessons. In Joshua Chapter 7, Joshua decides to send Israel into battle without seeking God’s counsel, and as a result his men are defeated and forced to retreat from Ai in shame. God had a way in the Old Testament of letting His people know when they were getting “too big for their britches” by putting their faith in something other than the Lord. Though we as modern day believers don’t often find ourselves doing battle, we are certainly susceptible to the same dangerous mindset that befell the people of Israel from time to time.
Warriors in 2016 should not put undue faith in our “bows and swords”. On a spiritual level, this means that we should never value our firearms above our faith in God’s protection. By no means am I suggesting that you should simply pray for God’s protection and forego carrying your firearm. Rather, I am suggesting that letting your faith and hope rest in the possession of an inanimate object is foolish. Notice that neither Joshua nor the Psalmist suggests that they laid down their weapons or that God asked them to do so. On the contrary, they carried their weapons into battle to do God’s bidding and had faith that He would ordain the circumstances that would provide them with victory. The Psalmist is merely suggesting that weapons are just tools that cannot and will not impute victory by themselves. For the believer, victory belongs to God and God alone, though he may choose to use our abilities and tools to bring it about.
On a practical level, this means that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to believe that we are more or less safe based on the tools we may or may not possess at the moment. We carry our firearms in order to have the ability to respond efficiently with deadly force in the off chance that we are ever required to do so. However, just like the people of Israel couldn’t rely on their swords for victory, we cannot rely on our firearms alone for safety. That’s why God gave us brains.
What makes us safer as Warriors is the ability to assess and mitigate risk. We should make decisions about where we will go and what we will do based on a constant appraisal of potential threats, and balance that with doing what is necessary to live our desired lifestyle. If we are able to go about our business armed, that is obviously the most ideal situation to be in; I am not disputing that fact. However, at times we will likely find that being armed is impractical or even at times illegal. There are very likely going to be times where we simply have to go places or do things that require us to be without our firearms. When those situations arise, we are not out of the fight, so to speak. We should still continue to assess risk and seek to mitigate it with our actions. For all practical purposes, nothing about our mental state should change when we are unarmed.
If you do an honest self assessment and realize that being unarmed significantly affects your mentality, you have begun to “trust in your bow” in an unhealthy way. If that sounds like you, I would challenge you to remedy your situation by learning more about the full spectrum of personal defense and break your gun-centric focus. Guns, just like swords and bows, are tools of very limited application. Sometimes even possessing a firearm won’t necessarily mean you have a better ability to solve a defensive problem than you would if you were unarmed. If you don’t have a “warm and fuzzy” just because you don’t have your firearm on you, some unarmed skill development or learning how to manage unknown contacts would be in order.
Warriors should arm themselves with more than just their physical tools. As Christians, our faith is in the Lord, who is our protector and deliverer. God and God alone has ordained the days you and I will have on this earth. Having or not having a tool in your possession at any given moment should not lead any Warrior to a feeling of helplessness. God gave us the inate ability to fight and survive long before weapons were a thing. So carry your gun when you can, but carry your brain everywhere; and let your hope be grounded ultimately in the Lord.
Get signed up for a class in Texas: here!