Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
2 Samuel 24:10 (NIV)
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.”
2 Samuel 24:10 (MSG)
But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics. And David prayed to God, “I have sinned badly in what I have just done. But now God forgive my guilt—I’ve been really stupid.”
“But David’s heart (conscience) troubled him after he had counted the people. David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the sin of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” -AMPLIFIED
Yesterday we addressed David’s sin; his taking a census of the people of Israel. This census was taken out of a sense of pride (David was thinking, “Look what I have done.”); not because God had called for a census to be taken. We are told that it was Satan who did the tempting, but God allowed David to be tested. Sadly, David failed this test miserably. And he quickly realized this fact.
We are told that once the census was over, it took 9 months and 20 days to complete, and Joab reported back to David the outcome, Israel had 800,000 soldiers and Judah had 500,000, David was overcome with guilt. He realized what he had done was wrong and immediately he sought out the Lord and repented. He prayed, “I have committed a great wrong against You. But please, O Eternal One, take away the guilt I feel, for I have done a stupid thing.” -2 Samuel 24:10b (VOICE)
We are not told the state of David’s heart at this point, but we must assume that the way he went about seeking God’s forgiveness was not whole-hearted. For it is not until we look at verse 17 that we find David finally taking ownership for the sin that he had committed. At this point it in time it is almost an off-the-cuff, “Lord, forgive me for I have sinned.” sort of a confession.
We are told the morning after David prayed this prayer the prophet Gad came to meet him with a message from the Lord. Gad told David this, “I am supposed to tell you this: “The Eternal says, ‘I will offer you three choices. Pick one, and that will be what I will do to you.’” Do you want to have seven years of famine in the land? Would you rather be on the run from your enemies for three months? Or shall a plague rage for three days through the land? Make a choice, and tell me what answer to give to the One who sent me.” -2 Samuel 24:12-13 (VOICE)
Imagine receiving such a message from the Lord! (It is not normal procedure where we are allowed to pick our own punishment.) Of course David was overwhelmed by how intense the punishment would be, but he wisely threw himself on the mercy of the Lord to choose his punishment. David’s response, “This is horrible! But I would rather fall by the hand of the Eternal, because He is merciful, than fall into human hands.” -2 Samuel 24:14 (VOICE)
This is how David’s punishment unfolded:
“So God let loose an epidemic from morning until suppertime. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand people died. But when the angel reached out over Jerusalem to destroy it, God felt the pain of the terror and told the angel who was spreading death among the people, “Enough’s enough! Pull back!” The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem. David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough burlap.” -2 Samuel 24:15-16 (MSG)
Finally David comes to the place where he takes ownership for his sin and what has happened to the people under his rule. “When David saw the angel about to destroy the people, he prayed, “Please! I’m the one who sinned; I, the shepherd, did the wrong. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me and my family, not them.” -2 Samuel 24:17 (MSG)
All of this needs to be a reminder to us all of the importance of keeping our lives right before the Lord and also asking forgiveness when we sin. We all will blow it at some point in time. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world. What we need to remember is that we need to ask forgiveness when we do sin.
“If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God.” -1 John 1:8-10 (MSG)
Daniel the prophet understood the need to call out to the Lord for compassion and mercy. Daniel tells us, “‘Compassion is our only hope, the compassion of you, the Master, our God, since in our rebellion we’ve forfeited our rights. We paid no attention to you when you told us how to live, the clear teaching that came through your servants the prophets.” -Daniel 9:9-10 (MSG)
Lord, forgive me. I know that I am a sinner, saved only by your grace, mercy and compassion. When I sin help me to acknowledge what that sin is and not nonchalantly mention it in passing. It is important that I acknowledge that sin and take accountability for it. I do not ever want to put you in the place where you feel that the gift of your Son was not important to me. It is because of Jesus’s death and resurrection that I have found peace with you. It is because of Him that I have a hope. Without You God I am a nobody headed nowhere. Thank you for your gift of salvation and may I never take it for granted.