One of the reasons I am drawing your attention to this story, is that I hope it encourages you to pray for all people in leadership. Pride can be fatal.
Unless we diligently fight our natural tendency to become self-seeking, we will fail just as David did. This story is told in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. King David became prideful. He stopped crediting God for military victories, and started believing Israel’s success was due to his brilliant strategy and their large number of trained soldiers. David no longer gave God glory; he kept it for himself. Knowing David would fail, God allowed satan to tempt David.
“Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, ‘Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.’
But Joab replied, ‘May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?’” (1 Chronicles 21:1-3 NIV)
David could have ignored, the idea of the census when satan first brought it to mind. If he had considered Joab’s warning, David would have realized how much his ego was growing. David dismissed any misgivings about counting the soldiers for 9 months, as the census was taken. Join me in praying, “God give me eyes that quickly recognize my sin”. It was not until Joab reported the results that David understood his wickedness.
“Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (1 Samuel 24:9-10 NIV emphasis is mine)
Now that the damage is done, David’s actions revealed to him the idolatry in his heart. Fortunately, he takes total responsibility, not blaming anyone or any circumstances. (See verse 17 below.) There is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood. “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22 NIV) If I grasped this fact, I would better appreciate the salvation I have through Jesus’ blood and I would not be so casual in my repentance.
“Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’” …
(1) ‘Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land?
(2) Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you?
(3) Or three days of plague in your land?
Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.’ David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’” (1 Samuel 24:11-14 NIV)
The blood payment for this sin is significant. Wisely, David trusts God’s mercy. The consequence of the plague is breathtaking, but it did not involve torture man does to man.
“So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family’.” (1 Samuel 24:15-17 NIV emphasis is mine)
Yes, we will suffer because of others’ sin. Yes, God is the perfect, holy, righteous, judge. His all-knowing perspective and our limited understanding cannot always agree. We may think that death is the worst thing that can happen, but we would be wrong. Decisions a parent makes will be incomprehensible to a toddler. Job and Paul express the proper attitude. We do not own our lives. As Creator and Savior, God has the right to do whatever He decides is best.
“He replied, ‘You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?’ In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” (Job 2:10 NIV emphasis is mine)
“ I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20, 21 NIV emphasis is mine )
Back to the story,
“On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’
‘To buy your threshing floor,’ David answered, ‘so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.’ Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up…’
But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.” (2 Samuel 24:18-25 NIV emphasis is mine)
It is not a sacrifice, if it does not cost. God is not satisfied with short cuts, or half-hearted repentance. Nothing, not anything, or anyone is to be more important than God. Did I accomplish my purpose to remind you?
1. Pray for those in leadership. We are affected by their decisions.
2. Avoid pride, and self-sufficiency. The proud will be humbled.
3. God will allow satan to tempt you. God will give you the ability to succeed.
4. Even with forgiveness, there are consequences to sin.
5. God owes no one any explanations for His decisions. If you think He does, then go back to the second point.
6. God expects complete sacrificial obedience, anything less is sin.
- What are you going to do to ensure you do not make David’s mistake?