And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel; and when they joined the battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines. -- 1 Sam. 4:2
Israel was the time being smitten before the Philistines. The Philistines gave them more trouble than all the other Canaanite breeds put together-the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite. These latter were but low breeds of the tribesmen scattered in the pigeonholes of Palastine. The Philistines were the highbrows of the land. It was from them that Palestine took its name, for Palestine is the Greek for Philistia. Historians tell us that they possessed a high order of culture, at least according to the standards of their time. Some scholars believe that to them we owe the origin of our alphabet.
And it was not the numerous low breeds of Canaanites who put up the greatest resistance against the Hebrews in their efforts to conquer Canaan, but these cultured and respectable Philistines. They were the ones who held out the longest and made it most difficult for the children of Israel to possess the promised land.
This ancient history is also very modern, for it has a parallel in the battle going on in society today. It is not against the crimes of the gutter, terrible as these are, that society wages its hardest battle, but against the crimes of respectability-gossip, jealousy, lying, bitterness, hot temper, selfishness, envy, malice, false pride, hypocrisy, injustice, uncharitable judgment, spite, ingratitude, treachery, and a host of others. It is from this army of respectability that the greatest sorrows come to society, not from the scattered skirmishers of crime. The wrongs punishable by human laws cause but a small part of the world's suffering, compared with the unpunishable wrongs of everyday life.
By all means, let us put down the Jebusites. They are not to be tolerated. As long as we tolerate them, they will continue to disturb our peace and be a menace to civilization. But if ever we expect to come into possession of our promised land, let us not overlook THOSE RESPECTABLE PHILISTINES.