The Bible and Self Defense, PT 4: Old Testament Self-Defense

Written by Jeff Mullen on April 8, 2014

“You shall not murder,” states one of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:13). The premeditated killing of others is wrong. Killing in a fit of emotion is also prohibited. Accidentally taking the life of another is wrong. We must do all that we can to avoid taking life.

But note that not all killing is wrong. Certain crimes required capital punishment, including murder and blasphemy (Lev. 24:16-17). Putting a man to death for causing negligent death—runaway ox, collapsing roof—also was called for.

If some jackweed broke into your home in the middle of the night and you killed him, you would not be guilty of murder (Ex. 22:2-3). In the dark you have no way of knowing if someone is coming to kidnap, to rape or to murder. But “if the sun has risen on him” and you kill the intruder, you are guilty of his bloodshed.

In daylight you have the opportunity to discern the intentions of the home invader (honestly, even though this is scripture – I’m not sure how anyone interprets intrusion – I’ll shoot now and ask questions later – if possible – but that’s just me). It is not legitimate to kill someone who is merely stealing your property… ok, I’ll just paralyze them.

The Israelites were forced to defend themselves against murderers. In Nehemiah 4, they had returned from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem with the sanction of King Artaxerxes. These were citizens, not soldiers. Nehemiah 4:13 says these families were armed with “their swords, their spears and their bows” to use lethal force to defend themselves.

The modern equivalent of swords, spears and bows would be a Kimber .45, Remington 870 Express Tactical Shotgun with Blackhawk Spec Ops II, or a CQB Comp 5.56/.223 AR-15. Note that these were “assault weapons,” the same types that armies would use for offensive purposes.

Nehemiah 4:14 specifically says, “...fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.It is good and right to defend your family, even using lethal force weapons.

Moreover, these citizens carried their weapons with them, as many people legally carry weapons with them today, for the purpose of self-protection. Nehemiah said of the Israelites rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall: “The laborers carried on their work – with one hand they worked and one hand holding a weapon” (Neh. 4:17).

Note what the Israelites did when they were given carte blanche against their mortal enemies under wicked Haman: “So the Jews went ahead on the appointed day and struck down their enemies with the sword. They killed and annihilated their enemies and did as they pleased with those who hated them” (Esther 9:5).

In this case the children of Israel did not choose non-violence. Rather, in order to “protect their lives, they used the “sword”—assault weapons used in self-defense.

Image: Courtesy of:

Jeff Mullen is a pastor and patriot. He began ministry in 1989 and in 1995 founded Mega Church, Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa and is also politically engaged in the community. He is a musician with extensive recording and performing experience and is a dynamic, humorous communicator. Jeff is also an avid shooter and enjoys a good hunt. He’s been married since 1989 and has two amazing daughters. You can connect with Jeff at or