“And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.” I Samuel 14:6
People who want to be police officers need to ask themselves this question: “Can I use deadly force on another person if need be?” The question is not, “Do I want to?”—no decent human being should want to—but rather it should be, “Am I willing?” Deadly force is never a desirable option, but sometimes, it’s necessary. There are times when violent people present a deadly threat that needs to be dealt with on terms they have set themselves.
If you’re already an officer, you should have answered this question in your mind already. Even if you answered, “yes” though, you may feel a little uncomfortable about it. After all, doesn’t the Bible say, “Thou shalt not kill?” Yes, it does in Exodus 20:13. The Bible also says—and these are Jesus’ own words—“…all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (Matthew 26:52). However, the Bible doesn’t entirely forbid the use of deadly force. The story of Jonathan and the Philistine garrison presents one exception that is appropriate for police work.
Jonathan was a son of King Saul and a high-ranking officer in Israel’s army. At the time of this verse, the heathen Philistines (Goliath was a Philistine) held rule over Israel, but Saul was unwilling to fight against them. Jonathan knew that something had to be done before Israel was destroyed; so he and his armourbearer attacked a Philistine military garrison. They were outnumbered ten to one, but God blessed their efforts. They killed about twenty Philistine soldiers and turned the battle around to Israel’s favor.
Jonathan knew going in that he was going to use deadly force. Why then was his use of deadly force righteous while the Philistines’ use of it wasn’t? Look at what Jonathan said, and you’ll see the answer: “…there is no restraint to the LORD to SAVE (emphasis mine) by many or by few.” Jonathan’s purpose in using deadly force was to SAVE innocent lives. The Philistines used deadly force to destroy and enslave people—Jonathan used it to save people.
The guideline for police use of deadly force is simple. Officers are to use deadly force to protect innocent life, including their own, from death or serious bodily harm. Criminals shoot to violate the law and destroy life; police officers shoot to uphold the law and save life when no other options are available or reasonable. That, by God’s Word, is why police use of deadly force is right and criminal use of deadly force is wrong.
Hopefully, this Scripture passage helps settle your mind about the use of deadly force. What about the question of your eternal destiny? What about knowing for sure that you’ll be in heaven when you die? You can be sure of that, too. Please click, “How do I go to Heaven?” on the sidebar to the right.
Brian Miller 2/12/2015
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822