When Pinchas committed an act of murder out of sheer indignation when he saw a deed of flagrant immorality, he was in danger of losing his kohanic status and being debarred from the priesthood. God, however, reassured him that his status as a kohen would remain and he would receive the Divine covenant of peace (Num. 25).
On the surface that means that he was still in the Almighty’s good books. However, the K’tav Sofer asks what was going on here.
He points out that Pinchas had stood up for God at a crucial moment and acted as a zealot. The two things are opposites – zealotry and peace. God showed by His message about the covenant of peace that He and the Torah opted for peace over fanaticism.
It is true that Pinchas committed an act of zealotry, but God’s message was that though there are emergencies when dramatic extreme reactions have their place, the slower, quieter course of peaceable persuasion was a better approach in the long run. As King Solomon says about the Torah (Prov.3:17), “Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace”.
Killing people or even shouting at them and insulting them is normally no method of standing up for God. It is better to follow the prophet Isaiah (1:18) and say, “Come now and let us reason together”.