The great “prince of preachers,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon, brought The Sword and The Trowel to life as a magazine in 1865. His aim was to extend the Kingdom by publishing theological articles as well as sharing news about the ministry work of his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle.
The magazine’s title derived from the passage in Nehemiah chapter 4, wherein the people of Israel are warding off enemies who are mocking and scorning their efforts to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. [see the full text of Nehemiah 4:7-23 below]. The prophet Nehemiah describes the Israelites as bearing a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other. C.H. Spurgeon birthed The Sword and The Trowel because he understood that the expansion of God’s kingdom required both defense of the truth and creative production.
Spurgeon described the mission of The Sword and The Trowel this way:
We would ply the Trowel with untiring hand for the building up of Jerusalem’s dilapidated walls, and wield the Sword with rigor and valor against the enemies of the truth.
It is now our desire and prayer, in 21st century America, to dedicate our own Sword & Trowel to kindling faithful family cultures, igniting literary imaginations, sharpening biblical theologies, and encouraging and equipping mamas — balancing the defense of truth with the sword in one hand and the creation of beauty and delight with the trowel in the other.
You can access a free download of Volume 1, published in 1865, of The Sword & The Trowel right here.
7 But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8 And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9 And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.
10 In Judah it was said,[d] “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”[e] 13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”
The Work Resumes
15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work.16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”
21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.