Bible Readings for September 28th
David sins at the end of his life by ordering a census of Israel. This sin is less well known than his adultery with Bathsheba, but that does not mean that it was less serious. In fact, in many ways, the people of Israel faced harsher consequences here in 2 Samuel 24 because of the census than they did when David took Bathsheba. Accordingly, there is much to learn from this passage.
First, we should guard ourselves from Satan’s diverse strategies by reminding ourselves that different stages of life will bring different kinds of temptations. Earlier in David’s life, lust and adultery were besetting issues, but now that David is older, the biggest temptation he faces is that of his own pride. The people of Israel belonged to Yahweh, so only Yahweh could order a census (Num. 1:2, 26:2). Moreover, Yahweh had commanded that Israel’s kings were not to focus on numbering their strength and power, which is why they were forbidden from acquiring many horses, many wives, or excessive silver and gold (Deut. 17:16–17), “lest [the king’s] heart turn away” from Yahweh. The fact that we have moved beyond certain sins in life should not lead us to believe that we have become invulnerable to all sins.
Second, David’s reasoning for selecting pestilence from among his options is instructive. Rather than choosing to fall into the hands of an enemy or a lengthy famine, David explains, “Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of a man” (2 Sam. 24:14). David’s punishment was not light, but his attitude can teach us to recognize the discipline of Yahweh as his fatherly kindness toward us (Heb. 12:7–11).
Third, David refuses to receive Araunah’s threshing floor for free. David says, “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24). For David, dealing with Yahweh’s wrath was never a quick fix so he could move on with his life—he was thoughtful about his interactions with Yahweh, and he took the atonement he needed seriously.
What we must see is that here, at the end of his life, David is neither beyond sin nor beyond Yahweh’s grace. At the end of 1 Samuel, we reflected on the fact that Saul had tragically built habits into his life against repenting, but we see the opposite with David. Even when he sins—sometimes sinning severely—David nevertheless confesses his sin, entrusts himself to Yahweh, and seeks costly atonement to cover his sins. And in the same way, let us pray that we too will walk in humility all the days of our lives, so that even when we sin, we are quick to seek forgiveness through the most costly atoning sacrifice of all—that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
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.