Today, I would like to share a bible perspective on the famous phrase: ‘the end justifies the means’.
This expression is generally attributed to the sixteenth-century Italian philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli.
Although apparently, it was actually conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte, who wrote it by hand on the last page of his copy of the book “The Prince” written by Machiavelli.
However it originated, this expression may well be an accurate observation of what human behavior has been historically and not a more modern invention.
But what does the Bible say about the end justifying the means?
Is this true?
Is this valid?
To address the issue, I would like to do so from a bible story.
It is the story of King Saul and David.
Thinking of not losing his kingdom, King Saul sought to kill David because God had chosen him to be the new king of Israel.
After many failed attempts to assassinate him, David had spared King Saul’s life when he went into a cave where David and his men were hiding.
On that occasion, Saul had promised not to harm David because it was clear that David had not betrayed him, or sought to take the kingdom from him.
However, it wasn’t long before Saul, blinded by jealousy, again wanted to kill him.
On this new occasion, upon learning that David was hiding in the desert of Ziph, King Saul takes three thousand men with him and heads to ambush him.
When they arrive in the region, being at night, they prepare to camp to sleep.
However, David learns of this and sneaks into the camp during the night.
There, along with some of his men, he reaches the very place where Saul is sleeping.
Let’s look at what the Bible tells about what happened next:
So David and Abishai went to the army by night, and there was Saul, lying asleep inside the camp with his spear stuck in the ground near his head.
Abner and the soldiers were lying around him.
Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands.
Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of the spear; I won’t strike him twice.”
But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him!
Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?
As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish.
But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed.
Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
1 Samuel 26:7-11
In this bible story, we see two people acting in opposite ways.
We see on the one hand King Saul, working under the philosophy that the end justifies the means; and we see David at work under the philosophy of living in righteousness and integrity before God.
For his part, Saul was willing to exterminate the life of an innocent man, willing to betray his word, willing to sin against God’s will.
All in order to maintain the dominion of the kingdom.
On the opposite side, David, who is waiting for the moment when God will put him as king of Israel, is not willing to betray King Saul to achieve it.
He is not willing to kill him even though he has the opportunity for the second time and even though the king has made himself David’s mortal enemy.
We see a David who does not think that the end justifies the means, but decides to work in integrity and purity, leaving the matter in the hands of God.
Dear reader, in considering this story, I can’t help but think of the times when I’ve been ready to contradict my principles and fail in integrity in order to evade a problem or get a desired result.
Lies, cheating, forgeries, deceptions, are often used to get what we want or avoid what we don’t want.
How many times have we used them for our benefit?
However, this story reminds us that the end does not justify the means.
That it is better to patiently live in integrity, in subjection to God’s will and the best moral principles; instead of sacrificing them, even at the very least, in order to get something you want.
The end does not justify the means.
David became king of Israel without going against his integrity of character.
God’s purposes are better and eternal.
If we are faithful to Him even in the smallest, He will carry them out in His time.
I hope these words have been a blessing to your life.
And what do you think? Do you think the end justifies the means? What is your opinion or experience? Share it in the comments.