Wednesday, July 24, 2013

1 Chronicles 21:1–30

1 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to the leaders of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba to Dan, and bring the number of them to me that I may know it.3 And Joab answered, “May the Lord make His people a hundred times more than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt in Israel?” 4 Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came to Jerusalem. 5 Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. All Israel had one million one hundred thousand men who drew the sword, and Judah had four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew the sword. 6 But he did not count Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s word was abominable to Joab. 7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He struck Israel. 8 So David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing; but now, I pray, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 9 Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10 “Go and tell David, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ’ ” 11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Choose for yourself, 12 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.” 13 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.” 14 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell. 15 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. 16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. 17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.” 18 Therefore, the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord. 20 Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat. 21 So David came to Ornan, and Ornan looked and saw David. And he went out from the threshing floor, and bowed before David with his face to the ground. 22 Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the place of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar on it to the Lord. You shall grant it to me at the full price, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.” 23 But Ornan said to David, “Take it to yourself, and let my lord the king do what is good in his eyes. Look, I also give you the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing implements for wood, and the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.” 24 Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” 25 So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. 26 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called on the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire on the altar of burnt offering. 27 So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath. 28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord and the altar of the burnt offering, which Moses had made in the wilderness, were at that time at the high place in Gibeon. 30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.

Here we see that God being angry with Israel (see 2 Samuel 24:1) moved David; that is allowed Satan who stood up against Israel to move David to do this thing. And so David being moved (i.e. enticed) by Satan, orders Joab the commander of the army and all the leaders to go and number the people of Israel from Beersheba to Dan, (i.e. from the south to the north) so he might know it. Not that God had commanded David to do this, rather David wanted the census taken that he might know it. That is David wanted to know the number of men in Israel fit for war seemingly so that he might glory in the potentially massive army that he was commander and chief of. For David already had a set military force that served the kingdoms military interests being made up of 12 divisions, with each division made up of 24,000 select men, taken from the heads and leaders of fathers houses in Israel, with each division serving a one month term throughout the year (see 1 Chr. 27:1-15). And so their was no legitimate grounds for this census, other than David as ruling king in Israel wanting to personally know the number of men he had under his command. In fact the only time a census was ever commanded by God of Israel was during their Wilderness Wanderings. And there it was for specific purposes, with specific regulations attached to it (see Ex 30:11-16; Num 1:1-46; 3:14-39; 26:1-65 etc.). Again there was no impending battle. And even if there was David never counted his men before he went into battle. From the time of God delivering Goliath the giant into David's hand, when Goliath defied the army's of Israel and reproached the living God. To David's escaping his own sons rebellions against him; David never looked to his own might, military forces, or those with him (unlike Saul his predecessor, consider 1 Sam 13:15) as the source of his deliverance, but always the Lord (consider 1 Samuel 17:45-47; 2 Sam 22:33-35; Psalm 31:15). And thus David's commanding this census be taken, when he was already well established in his throne, and the Nation was essentially at rest, seems and act of pure vainglory. For from the days that the Lord God brought Israel out of Egypt until this day, God alone was to be their exalted Commander and Chief, who will lead them in the Strength and the Power of His Might and subdue their enemies before them, as they obey Him (consider Ex 23:23; Joshua 5:13-15; Psalm 60:10-12). His leaders then were to be shepherds of His people, who look with all dependence to Him, to lead and guide them, and not look to their own might (Num. 27:15-17; 2 Chr 20:12). There is then a serious lesson here for us all to learn, that God who is Sovereign, and who gives us all that we have and are, who raises up one and puts down another, according to His own will (consider 1 Samuel 2:7; Psalm 75:6-7; 86:9; 113:4; Isaiah 40:17-18; Jeremiah 27:5; Daniel 4:35), does not look lightly upon those whom he has chosen and exalted, exalting themselves! Whether this be individuals or nations (consider Isaiah 2:10-12).

Therefore God being angry with Israel (2 Samuel 24:1) moved David; that is allowed Satan who stood up against Israel; to move David to do this thing. And so Satan likely having observed something in Israel that he could accuse them of, takes a stands against Israel before the Lord. And so the Lord being justly angry with Israel, allows Satan to move (i.e. entice or incite) David the leader of the people of Israel to demand that this census be taken. Now we are not told what they did that provoked the wrath of God as in 2 Sam 21:1. And for all intense purposes that is mostly irrelevant. For it is that they had done something so severe, as too so anger God, as to bring about this perilous state of affairs for themselves (consider Psalm 76:7; Ezra 9:15). And so though we as God's people are in a covenant relationship with Him; both individually and collectively. We must never think ourselves, because of the overwhelming abundance of grace that God has given us in Christ, above God chastening us when we sin, or correcting us when we need correction (Heb 12:3-11). And in this, God can deliver us over to Satan to do just that. Yet as we will see, David's audacity in ordering Joab the commander of the army, and the leaders in Israel to go and number the people of war, so that David might know their number. Will only be surpassed by the greatness of David's contrition and humility, when David sees the far reaching consequences of his sin.

Therefore God in doing so, in allowing Satan to move David to do this, will bring about His desired will in the end, and that is David's and the leadership in Israel's repentance, while purging the nation of those within who were guilty before God. And so with their repentance, God will not only preserve the nation, and specifically the capital Jerusalem where David and the nations leaders dwelt. But He will reveal the location of where the Temple of the Lord was to be built. And so once again David will exemplify a heart of contrition and dependence and reverence before the Lord. And so here we see through David before his repentance a potential pitfall for all those in leadership in the church. Who when they too become "established" can become as David was here "independent in their spirit"; heeding neither the warnings of God in His Word, nor the counsels of man according to it. For though there was no grounds for David taking this census, yet he could not be dissuaded from doing so, even by his own general Joab; who perceiving that something was inherently wrong with David requesting him to do so, yet not wanting to arose the kings wrath, tried to humbly persuade David not to pursue such a vain and reckless thing, by which David would be the cause of guilt upon God's people. Yet as the Scripture says David's word prevailed against Joabs (Vs. 3-4). And so the lesson for us is that we too must be careful that when we become established in whatever roles and duties God assigns us, that we also do not become "independent in our spirits", and set out on all kinds of misadventures that would clearly put us in conflict with the Lord and His Will for us, through His Word. For as David reveals here, we too can fall under Satan's influence if we think that we can live as Christians by our own dictates and desires. Similarly we can become disqualified for God's service, and or be removed from His service in a certain capacity, if we pursue and do our own will and desires, while clearly ignoring God's revealed will to us and for us, while in it. As was the case with Davids predecessor King Saul who did not heed God's command to destroy Amalek and the Amalekites and all that was theirs, and instead spared the best of everything that they had for themselves (see 1 Sam 15:1-35). Therefore dependence on, and obedience towards God is critical if we hope to live fruitful lives for Him. For if we begin to live complacently, independently, taking for granted our God given Spirit gifts, abilities, and or calling that Jesus has placed on our lives, we too can unwittingly end up under all kinds of evil influences, and in all kinds of precarious situations and circumstances.

Scripture Quotations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982,


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