The Ten Commandments or the Law of God Series
Thou shalt not kill.
Numbers can be deceiving. The above graphic illustrates that Chicago which receives much media attention had a population of 2,746,388 in 2021 and 769 murders = .00028% Homicide rate or 9th of the top 20 LARGE cities in the US. I live in Jackson, MS and its numbers are real bad for its size 153,701/76 = .00049%.
So why lead out a devotional on the Ten Commandments with Murder Stats. I am making the point that what these and all the statistics show is the total depravity of man and man’s rejection of the 6th Commandment.
Once again we will reference Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677
72. What is the sixth commandment?
The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. Ex. 20:13
73. What is required in the sixth commandment?
74. What is forbidden in the sixth commandment?
Some key points Keach makes:
- requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life
- all lawful endeavours to preserve the life of others
- absolutely forbiddeth the taking away of our own life
- taking the life of our neighbour unjustly
When we take these in context we see that killing is not expressly forbidden, but murder is, and there is a BIG difference. Murder is the unjustified killing of someone including ourselves. We do not have time to get into the moral debate of what constitutes justified, I will only say this read the Book, the Bible is very clear on the matter.
Hodge comments on the design of the commandment as follows:
This commandment, as expounded by our Lord (Matt. 5:21, 22), forbids malice in all its degrees and in all its manifestations. The Bible recognizes the distinction between anger and malice. The former is on due occasion allowable; the other is in its nature, and therefore always, evil. The one is a natural or constitutional emotion arising out of the experience or perception of wrong, and includes not only disapprobation but also indignation, and a desire in some way to redress or punish the wrong inflicted. The other includes hatred and the desire to inflict evil to gratify that evil passion. Our Lord is said to have been angry; but in Him there was no malice or resentment. He was the Lamb of God; when He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; He prayed for his enemies even on the cross.
In the several commandments of the decalogue, the highest manifestation of any evil is selected for prohibition, with the intention of including all lesser forms of the same evil. In forbidding murder, all degrees and manifestations of malicious feeling are forbidden. The Bible assigns special value to the life of man, first, because he was created in the image of God. He is not only like God in the essential elements of his nature, but he is also God’s representative on earth. An indignity or injury inflicted on him, is an act of irreverence toward God. And secondly, all men are brethren. They are of one blood; children of a common father. On these grounds we are bound to love and respect all men as men; and to do all we can not only to protect their lives but also to promote their well-being. Murder, therefore, is the highest crime which a man can commit against a fellow-man.
Have you ever considered How many ways there are to commit murder? Thomas Watson did and here is his list:
How many ways is murder committed? We may be said to murder another twelve ways.
(1) With the hand; as Joab killed Abner and Amasa. “Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground.” 2 Sam 20:10.
(2) With the mind. Malice is mental murder. “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” 1 John 3:15. To malign another, and wish evil against him in the heart, is murdering him. (3) With the tongue, by peaking to the harm of another, and causing him to be put to death. Thus the Jews killed the Lord of life, when they inveighed against him, and accused him falsely to Pilate. John 18:30.
(4) With the pen. Thus David killed Uriah by writing to Joab to “set Uriah in the forefront of the battle.” 2 Sam 11:15. Though the Ammonites’ sword killed Uriah—yet David’s pen was the cause of his death; and therefore the Lord tells David by the prophet Nathan, “You have killed Uriah.” 2 Sam 12:9.
(5) By plotting another’s death. Thus, though Jezebel did not lay her own hands upon Naboth—yet because she contrived his death—she was the murderer. 1 Kings 21:9, 10.
(6) By putting poison into cups. Thus the wife of Commodes the emperor killed her husband by poisoning the wine which he drank. So, many kill little children by medicines, which cause their death.
(7) By witchcraft and sorcery—which were forbidden under the law. “Do not let your people practice fortune-telling or sorcery, or allow them to interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is an object of horror and disgust to the Lord.” Deuteronomy 18:10-12
(8) By having an intention to kill another; as Herod, under a pretense of worshiping Christ, would have killed him. Matt 2:8, 13. So, when Saul made David go against the Philistines, he designed that the Philistine should have killed him. “Saul said, Let not my hand be upon him—but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.” 1 Sam 18:17. Here was the intent to murder, and it was in God’s account as bad as actual murder.
(9) By consenting to another’s death; as Saul to the death of Stephen. “I also was standing by and consenting unto his death.” Acts 22:20. He who gives consent, is accessory to the murder.
(10) By not hindering the wrongful death of another, when in our power. Pilate knew Christ was innocent. “I find no fault in him,” he said—but did not hinder his death; therefore he was guilty. Washing his hands in water, could not wash away the guilt of Christ’s blood.
(11) By unmercifulness. By taking away that which is necessary for the support of life; as to take away the tools or utensils by which a man gets his living. “It is wrong to take a pair of millstones, or even just the upper millstone, as a pledge, for the owner uses it to make a living.” Deut 24:6. Or by not helping him when he is ready to perish. You may be the death of another, as well by not relieving him, as by doing him violence. If you do not feed him who is starving, you kill him. How many are thus guilty of the breach of this commandment!
(12) By not executing the law upon capital offenders. A felon having committed six murders, the judge may be said to be guilty of five of them, because he did not execute the felon for his first offence.
I want to close today with some wisdom from A.W. Pink:
This commandment is not restricted to forbidding the actual crime of murder. It also prohibits all the degrees and causes of murder, such as rash anger and hatred, slanders, and revenge, and whatever else may prejudice the safety of our neighbor or tempt us to see him perish when it is in our power to relieve and rescue him.
Let us begin by pointing out that every killing of a man is not murder. It is not so in the execution of justice, when the magistrate sentences a slayer, for he is vested with lawful authority to put capital offenders to death, and if he fails to do so, then God will charge it upon him as sin. “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Genesis 9:6) These words state the general and unchanging principle. “Thine eye shall not pity, but life shall go for life” (Deuteronomy 19:21).
As there are some who decry this assertion and denounce all war as unlawful in this Christian dispensation, let us point out that when soldiers came to Christ’s forerunner for instruction saying, “What shall we do?” (Luke 3:14), he did not say, Fight no more, abandon your calling, but gave them directions how they should conduct themselves.
There is one other exception, namely, accidental slaying, which is not chargeable with murder, that is, when life is taken without any intention of so doing. Such a case we find mentioned in Scripture, as when hewing wood the axe should slip and undesignedly kill a neighbor (Deuteronomy 19:5). For such innocent slayers the Lord appointed cities of refuge, whither they could find safe asylum from the avenger of blood. But let it be pointed out that we must be employed about lawful things. Otherwise, if we are engaged in what is unjustified and it leads to the death of another, this cannot be excused from murder (see Exodus 21:22-24)
In closing, let us give some rules for restraining and repressing anger. (1) Labor and pray for a meek and humble spirit. Think lowly of yourself and you will not be angered if others slight you. All contention proceeds from pride (Proverbs 13:10). The more you despise yourself the easier it will be to bear the contempt of your fellows. (2) Think often of the infinite patience and forbearance of God. How many affronts does He bear with from us? How often we give Him occasion to be angry with us, yet “He hath not dealt with us after our sins.” Let this great example be ours. (3) Beware of prejudice against any, for it is sure to misinterpret their actions. Fight against the first risings of envy and anger; when injured put it down to ignorance or unintentional. (4) Shun angry persons (Proverbs 22:24,25); fire quickly spreads.
Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5, The Ten Commandments
Keach’s Baptist Catechism of 1677 – Modern #44-92
Thomas Watson’s classic The Ten Commandments
Systematic Theology, Charles Hodge, Chapter XIX, The Law
The Ten Commandments, by A. W. Pink
The Doctrine of Law and the Grace Unfolded – John Bunyan
A Treatise on the Law and the Gospel by John Colquhoun, D.D