Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people…
God sometimes does that in which He has no delight. "Surely Thou wilt slay the wicked, O God." But God saith, "As I live, I have no pleasure in... wicked." And yet He slays them. God can look at your state of ruin, and say, as the God of truth, "I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth." Now, we may not delight in that in which God does not delight. God has sanctioned and ordained war. The Bible is full of proof of this. But that does not justify war on our part, unless He commands it, as at times He does. He does not delight in it. This is clear from the miseries which follow from it, and from the promise that in the Kingdom of God war shall be no more. Still, now and here He uses it; but that does not involve our right, whenever we think we have just cause, to declare war. God uses pestilence. Shall man therefore breed and propagate it? Some engage in war who do not delight in it, whilst some who delight in it take care to keep aloof from the field of battle. Men who think war to be right under special circumstances are far from delighting in it. David was one such, for he .prays, "Scatter them... delight in war." Who are the characters delighting in war?
1. Quarrelsome men, fond of the strife and conflict of war, and of the excitement which that strife and conflict brings.
2. Restless men, weary, strange to say, of the very quietness and repose of peace.
3. Officious men, delighting to meddle with strife belonging not to them, and ready to forward their opinions by war.
4. Ambitious men, who see a path to honour and to fame — a path to their own honour and fame, or to the honour and reputation of some of their kindred — by means of war.
5. Covetous men, who hope to get gain by war.
6. Mistaken patriots, who aim at the extension of empire and increase of national honour by war.
7. Cruel men, who, setting no value upon life, delight to shed blood in war.
8. Envious men, who aim to desolate every land fairer than their own by the ravages of war.
9. Proud and revengeful men, ever ready to take offence, and who see no means of settling differences except by war.
10. Thought. less men, infected by sympathy with the delight of others in war.
11. All who do not look upon mankind as the children of one Father in heaven, and adopt the law of love as their rule. Intelligence and benevolence (religious intelligence and Christian benevolence — light from the God who is light, and love from the God who is love) will check delight in war; and godliness and Christianity, when perfected and consummated in the human heart, in our homes, and in the high places of authority in the country, most inevitably root up all pleasure in war. Nations cannot make war except by a combination of men. In a despotic govern-meat, if one ruler delight in war, this suffices to produce it; but where the power is distributed combination is necessary. And our text is a prayer against those who delight in war. It amounts to a petition against all war, that it may cease for ever. Many are the reasons why we should deprecate it. In order to produce a thorough soldier you must, to a considerable extent, blunt and destroy the ordinary susceptibilities of human nature. Now, just look for a moment at this — just think of taking away from a man that which makes the man nearest to God, and most like God. Then look at the actual struggle — how horrible! and reflect upon all that is involved in it. For those in whose land the war rages: what untold misery is theirs. Think of the arrest of all that is useful and benevolent and religious in a country, and remember that in every case of war bitter animosity remains, and is transmitted hereafter to future generations. Observe further, that the issues of war, if they decide the might, can never, taken alone, determine the right. So that there is no lawful ground upon which we can delight in war; but on every ground we are bound, as Christians, to pray, "Scatter Thou the people that have pleasure in war." Of course we know that sceptics deride the so-called power of prayer — let none of us be of their number. Struggle against the contagion of contempt for what is religious: it is easily caught, and may lie dormant within you, to show itself only when you really need to pray. But why should we pray this prayer?
I. Because God alone can prevent war. Men used to say that civilization would bring peace. But it has not done so. It is one of our false gods which our true God casts down by showing us how powerless it is to prevent this great evil of war. Nor will international intercourse prevent it. Only the love of God and of one another. Now, God represents Himself as able to do this. "He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprises." "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong." And there are many more such words. Guided by these testimonies, oh, pray this prayer, day by day, without ceasing, until peace be restored, and peace reign over the wide earth. Cry to the Lord God of Hosts, "Scatter Thou the people that delight in war." But is there nothing else to be done — to be done, I mean, with this object? Submit yourselves to the Prince of Peace, for the ejection of the war spirit from the heart. And seek to love all men for the sake of God and our Saviour.
Parallel VersesKJV: Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war.