God the Warrior, Gibbor

GOD as Warrior 

As a reminder: Every society needs its warriors to survive.  It is the warrior in men that energizes us and allows us to defend our values.  It’s the warrior in us that allows us to stand our ground and protect and defend even to the point of death.  The warrior is an inherent instinct within the nature of men.

When looking at the term “gibbor”, we know that God Himself is a warrior.  We see the words of Jeremiah, “Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. [gibbor] – (Jeremiah 10:6) Please turn to Psalm 89 and you will observe the psalmist saying of God, “Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand.  Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” – (Psalm 89: 13-14)   Righteousness and justice is the foundation of his throne and He is full of power and strength, He is exalted and He acts with love and faithfulness.

When God saves, and vindicates us humans it is His warrior strength that overcomes the enemy. (Psalm 54:1-4, 20:6) God’s warrior strength and the relationship with His character allows His name Yahweh to be identified with gibbor: “Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that my name is the Lord. [Yahweh]” – (Jeremiah 16:21) A commentator has observed, “One thing the Exodus does not require is any military violence on the part of the Hebrews… Moses arsenal does not include a single bona fide weapon – no swords, no spears, bows, or knives, much less chariots and horsemen. It is Yahweh who fights!

God is not passive.  He fights for His people to save, liberate, protect and sustain.  He has all the attributes of warrior.  I’m glad Jesus is a warrior, I’m glad He fought for my salvation by offering up His only son and glad He will fight again.

The Messianic Warrior

In the promise concerning the Messiah, one designation placed on Him will be “El Gibbor” or the mighty-warrior God.  “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” – (Isaiah 9:6) His name is listed alongside eternal Father and Prince of Peace. This indicates that being God is not inconsistent with being a warrior and being a warrior is not inconsistent with being the Prince of Peace. God’s ultimate representative, His own son, the Messiah, is a warrior fighting and laying down His own life for His Father’s cause.  And one day soon He will mount His white horse and slay the armies of the world to establish a perfect and lasting peace. (Revelation 19:11-21)

Gibbor as National Warrior and Hero

All through the Old Testament the use of “gibbor” refers to the experienced veteran of combat or the hero status achieved from spectacular feats of bravery. Psalm 19:5, Isaiah 36:5, Genesis 6:4, Genesis 10:9 are all examples.

Gideon and Jephthath, two of Israel’s judges were called gibbbors. (Judges 6:12, 11:1) In Judges chapter seven Gideon made a name for himself by destroying the pagan altars and fighting the Midianites with a corp of three hundred gibbors.

The reign of David advanced the concept of the gibbor to an outstanding militia and hand-picked corp of warriors.  It was carried on by Solomon and the number of his gibborim grew to 60.  He comments on their “parade dress” appearance in Song of Songs 3:7-8.

The warrior is part of the routine expression of manliness in the Bible. God the Father and Christ are examples of what it is.  As men, we need to embrace the latent or rejected warrior within for our own development and for the sake of our society and church. The warrior never serves himself. The warrior serves his king and his commander.  We must know and understand what and who we serve. The power of the warrior needs to be in the service of a larger view of masculinity.

Let’s be clear, being a warrior is not the goal of manhood.  It is a stop along the way to full maleness. Scripture shows that a true warrior should develop as a spiritual warrior.  This takes more than just being tough, strong, or determined to win.

Gibbor as the Spiritual Warrior

Solomon says, “Wisdom is better than [warrior] strength.” (Ecclesiastes 9:16) The psalmist adds, “He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.  The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” – (Psalm 147:10-11)

Isaiah declares a man’s real strength lies in things like repentance, resting in one’s salvation, and in the quiet trust of God. (Isaiah 30:15)  This is reaffirmed through the prophet Jeremiah: “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” – (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

This clarifies the true warrior.  Not a warmonger or baby-killer but warriors that know their limitations and place their faith in God. The warrior does not trust in his own ability but he puts his commitment, allegiance and trust in God. For a man that has not had a significant male role model in his life this is bad news.  The fatherless generation could learn a lot about being a man through the study of God’s word and witnessing a true warrior in operation.  The true warrior does not trust his own strength but he trusts in the strength of the Lord.

On the other side of things, the psalmist admits that “gibbor” can use power for malevolent causes and become a violent man full of evil.  This is a possibility inherent in the warrior psyche.

“Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” – (Psalm 40:4) and in contrast, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” – (Jeremiah 17:5) 

Job was told by God to “Gird up his loins as a warrior would do preparing for battle” in (Job 38:1-3) He was telling Job to receive the words of God as a warrior would do.  For three chapters God put Job in his place by reminding him of who he is and asking him to receive the admonition as a warrior would.  The warrior salutes and carries out the order.  No debate, just Yes, sir.

King David was a supreme example of the spiritual warrior and the gibbor.  He always credited his military accomplishments to God and sang praises to Him. (1 Chronicles 29:11-14) David also illustrated the downside of the life of the warrior.  To be a successful warrior, blood must be shed.  There is a certain irony in the life of the warrior. It is a much-needed stop on the male journey. It is where we grow up. But, it still involves, blood, risk, and/or sacrifice. We need to prove ourselves. It is different with each man how that occurs. Sometimes it takes all the warrior courage we can muster up to pull the task off.  Whatever it is, however, we must call forth the warrior within us to kill it. We must trust God with the outcome and risk psychological or physical injury to become men. “What is a man without his sword?”

The challenge of being a warrior is twofold:  Knowing what to fight for, and knowing when to quit and neither of these is easy to learn. Usually it takes a major and very tragic loss or a severe wounding within the life of a man to move him out of the warrior perspective.  The warrior never leaves us but if the warrior fights enough battles he can become seriously wounded.  The arrows find their targets and we become wounded to the point of new an uncharted territory.  It’s a dark and scary place.  It is a stage on the journey to manhood most men would love to skip.  If you are stuck in the wounded male space, you are lost and feel you will never find your way back.

This brings us to the subject for the next post, The Wounded Male- Enosh: The Painful Incongruency, so come back for this in the next posting.

All credit goes to Robert Hicks and The Masculine Journey.

God bless you all,

The Tubthumper

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