In looking at the example of ancient Israel, one cannot dutifully discuss the wars they fought without considering the mindset of the Israelites themselves. As we have already seen in this series, God brought them out of Egypt without them having to lift a finger to fight. Most likely, He would have driven out the Canaanites without them needing to fight as well, if only Israel had obeyed.
However, consider why God did this. It had to be more than simple punishment for disobedience. Even if it was to create in them a sense of gratitude by not allowing them to take the blessings for granted doesn’t seem to quite answer it entirely.
Now consider that from the time of Adam and Eve, human beings have had a tendency to push God out of the picture. Mankind has had a desire to do it on their own. People seem to always want to do things “my way”.
Is it possible, then, that ancient Israel wanted to be active conquerors? Perhaps they did not fully trust God to take care of them, even.
19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8:19-20, King James Version)
It eventually got to the point where Israel demanded a human king to lead their battles. They even desired to be like all the other nations around them – nations which they were at war with much of the time.
The irony is that God promised them protection in exchange for obedience. God promised them blessings if they remained true. Instead, they rejected Him, and even rejected His protection.
34O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 13:34, King James Version)
Can we ever be guilty of the same?