Today’s reading is our final chapter of 2 Samuel, 24, we see some confusion I think we need to look at together. Scripture says that “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel and he incited David against them saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” (v.1) But, at this point there is peace in Israel, so there is no need for military forces. A census was to take count of all the able men that could fight in a battle. And this was not necessary. Well, we know that God does not cause us to sin, so after doing a little research, we see that this is most likely something from Satan, but God allowed in order to show the desires of David’s heart. We can note that the “he” isn’t capitalized here in my version AND there is a cross reference with 1 Chronicles 21:1 that says “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” So going off that, assuming Satan was the one who had him do this, the next question is why would Satan do this and what did God want to reveal about David’s heart. Our application tells us that “David’s sin was pride and ambition in counting the people so that he could glory in the size of his nation and army, its power and defenses. By doing this he put his faith in the size of his army rather than in God’s ability to protect them regardless of their number.” He goes on to order Joab to do the census, despite even Joab knowing this was wrong, he obeys. It took him nine months and twenty days to accomplish this, but he comes back reporting 1,300,000 men among all the tribes. Once Joab delivers the news, the Lord convicts David, he knew that counting the men was wrong and he goes on to immediately seek God’s forgiveness, but once again his sin doesn’t go without consequence. We meet a new prophet Gad here, who comes to David with a message from God, God gives him three choices and he must choose what his punishment is, three years of famine, three months of fleeing or three days of plague. David picks the three days of plague and our application tells us that “David wisely chose the form of punishment that came most directly from God. He knew how brutal men can be, and he also knew God’s great mercy. When you sin greatly, turn back to God. To be punished by Him is far better than to take your chances without him.” The plague hits the people, 70,000 people died, God actually tells the angel that it’s enough. At this point the angel was at the threshing floor of Araunah, a Jebusite man. (Side note: threshing floors were used for grain, the sheaves (bunches) of grain would be put on this threshing floor and some type of cattle would be connected to a threshing board, so as they walked around the floor the grain would be loosened or removed from the grain husk.) David saw the angel causing this on his people and he calls out to the Lord to let the plague fall on him instead of all these other people. Gad goes on to tell David to build an altar right at this same threshing floor. So he goes and buys this land from Araunah and builds an altar and makes a sacrifice, then the Lord answered David’s prayer and the plague stopped. One thing that I found super interesting that our application touched on about this specific place, it says “many believe that this threshing floor where David built the alter is the location where Abraham nearly sacrificed Isaac. After David’s death, Solomon built the temple on this spot and centuries later, Jesus would teach here.”
What I love the most about today’s scripture is that David knew he was wrong, right before today’s verse it says he was conscience-stricken. He knew once he got the results from his census that he was in the wrong and he turns to God. Although David had some really huge mess ups, he also knew and believed the Lord would not only forgive Him, but that He was still faithful. He understood and expected the consequences of his sins, too. Since this is our last day in 2 Samuel, I do want to leave us with the reminder of how great David was, the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart. He messed up for sure, but our application says that he was called this because “when he sinned, he recognized and confessed his sins to God. David committed his life to God and remained loyal to him throughout his lifetime.” Isn’t that so much of the legacy you want to leave?
Is there a sin or an area of your life you that may be hindering you from feeling that way? Is there a fear of going before the Lord with it? Know that you are loved and God is good and he is waiting for us to come before him with anything and everything.
Heavenly Father, thank you for taking us through this book in your Word, we have learned so much about you and just how good you are and what it looks like when we follow you, but also when we slip and mess up. We are so grateful that you are there willing and ready to forgive us, but Lord, you know the desires of our hearts, we don’t want to mess up, help us to stay close in line with you, to hear you, and obey you. Help us to come before you with our sin and hang-ups so we can get right back in step with you. Help us to not miss out on time of closeness to you because we messed up, I pray your holy spirit moves within us so that we too can reflect you God. It’s in your good, mighty, loving and forgiving name we pray. Amen!