Bible Readings for November 25th
In today’s reading from 1 Chronicles 21, we find the major exception to the way that the Chronicles avoid mentioning David’s sin. And yet, even here we find two key differences from what we read in 2 Samuel 24 in the way this story is told. Most significantly, we read in the very first verse of this story that it was Satan who “stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel” (1 Chron. 21:1). In 2 Samuel 24:1, however, we read this: “Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” So, which is it? Did Satan incite David, or did Yahweh? Is this an error or a contradiction in the Bible, or is something else going on here?
In fact, everything we have studied so far helps us to see exactly what is happening here. In the narratives of Samuel and Kings, we saw Yahweh building his case against his people before sending them off into exile as judgment for their sin, so it is no surprise to see that Yahweh is angry with David and with Israel in 2 Samuel 24. God himself does not tempt anyone to sin (Jas. 1:13), but we must not forget that the greatest possible punishment for sin is to be handed over into deeper sin. We may reconcile these two seemingly contradictory versions of the same story, then, by recognizing that Yahweh is handing his people over to judgment when he permits Satan to tempt David.
But the other detail that the Chronicler adds in this account of the story comes in the additional information we gain about the threshing floor that David buys from Ornan the Jebusite in 1 Chronicles 22:1: “Then David said, ‘Here shall be the house of the LORD God and here the altar of burnt offering for Israel.’” In other words, this story isn’t included to demonstrate David’s guilt so much as to provide the backstory for the eventual location of the temple. Even when we read of David’s sin in the Chronicles, the Chronicler ties those actions to the larger story of Israel’s worship.
This has much to teach us about what it means to live by grace in the new covenant. Under the new covenant, we learn that because Jesus took upon the wrath of Yahweh for us at the cross, then we are no longer on trial. To be sure, there are still consequences for our sins as our heavenly Father disciplines his children, but even the consequences for our sins are opportunities to return to the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, where we may find complete pardon, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God. When you sin, flee to David’s greater Son Jesus, that you might be washed clean and reconciled with your Father in heaven.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.