Put Your Swords Away

Displayed at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove art gallery is a depiction of Drumclog by George Harvey. Presbyterian Christians called covenanters were worshipping in the Lanarkshire moors to avoid persecution by the government. Many of the worshippers were not men to be trifled with and went well armed. When a troop of soldiers came across them and attacked, they fought back, and won. The victory was short-lived though it is often seen as a brief triumph for religious freedom. 

Should we ever use physical force to defend ourselves and our beliefs? The great Oliver Cromwell believed so, as did other heroes of the faith such as Huldrych Zwingli who died in battle and Jan Žižka, military leader of the Czech Hussites. 

This side of eternity, some violence is not intrinsically evil. After all, God Himself commanded it and regulated it in the Old Testament. The Lord certainly used the New Model Army to reform this land and achieve a measure of gospel freedom never previously enjoyed. This was achieved, not through fine words, but by the barrel of the gun and point of the sword.

Yet I cannot escape form the words of Christ Himself, who in taught in Matthew 5:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” 

Evil must reign for a season; Satan must be loosed from His pit until the appointed time. With Psalm 94, do we say: 

O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—

O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!

Rise up, O Judge of the earth;

Render punishment to the proud.

Lord, how long will the wicked,

How long will the wicked triumph?


They utter speech, and speak insolent things;

All the workers of iniquity boast in themselves.

They break in pieces Your people, O Lord,

And afflict Your heritage.

They slay the widow and the stranger,

And murder the fatherless.

Yet they say, “The Lord does not see,

Nor does the God of Jacob understand.”


Understand, you senseless among the people;

And you fools, when will you be wise?

He who planted the ear, shall He not hear?

He who formed the eye, shall He not see?

He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,

He who teaches man knowledge?

The Lord knows the thoughts of man,

That they are futile.


It concludes:


He has brought on them their own iniquity,

And shall cut them off in their own wickedness;

The Lord our God shall cut them off.


Put away your weapons and angry fists. Christ shall defend His own honour when he returns. Until then:

Put your sword into the sheath


This replica pistol I bought at the National Civil War Museum in Newark.