- 2 Sam. 21:1-14; 24:1-9
- 1 Chron. 21:1-30; 22:1-19
- Psalm 30
In today's reading GOD punished Israel for some specific sins which were committed. The first occurred during King Saul's lifetime when he attempted to kill all the Gibeonites whom Joshua had made a covenant to protect hundreds of years earlier. As a result GOD sent a famine upon the land of Canaan for three years. David asked GOD what the cause of the famine was and the LORD told him. So David went to the Gibeonites and asked what he could do to make things right and take away the famine from the land. The Gibeonites told David to bring them seven male descendants of Saul that they would put to death, and David did so. Afterward David took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan and had them buried in Saul's father Kish's tomb, in the land of Benjamin. Once he did these things GOD answered David's prayer on behalf of the land.
The second sin occurred after Satan tempted David into taking a census of the fighting men within the land. We aren't told why this was sinful for David to do, especially given that GOD had ordered a census twice in the past, but whatever the reason, David's general Joab knew it was sin and advised David against it. But David insisted. We are told that 1,100,000 fighting men were recorded at that time in Israel, and this excluded Levi and Benjamin, which Joab didn't count because he disagreed with David's command.
On this occasion, when David repented of his sin, GOD gave him three choices.
So Gad [David's seer] came to David and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Choose for yourself, either three years of famine, or three months to be defeated by your foes with the sword of your enemies overtaking you, or else for three days the sword of the LORD—the plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now consider what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.” And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the LORD looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
(1 Chron. 21:11-15 NKJV)
The angel ordered David to build an altar to GOD at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, which David did. He bought the land and sacrificed to GOD there upon the altar. GOD accepted David's sacrifice, sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice upon the altar. David would ultimately select this location as the place where Solomon's temple was built. David collected the supplies for the temple's construction and gave instruction to Solomon about its importance and the reason why he himself was not allowed to build it—because of the amount of blood he had shed upon the land.
In all of this I am reminded of Heb. 12:5-11, which says:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
One final reminder: GOD forgave David when he sinned as David had done with Saul, Absalom and others who had sinned against him. That's what Jesus teaches us to do.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
(Matt. 6:14-15 NIV)