David is known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He was the prince that would replace the king who failed to fulfill the commands of the Lord. He was the conquering king; the man raised on high; the anointed of the God of Jacob; and the sweet psalmist of Israel (2 Samuel 23:1). David was highly favored by both men and God because of His character. His army would do anything for him because he was an honorable man. For instance, even when he requested water from the guarded gates of Bethlehem, three of his mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem and brought it to David. But David, wanting to honor God, did not drink of it. Instead, he poured it out as a sacrifice to the LORD.
David was clearly committed to his God, and he had learned to trust him through the difficulties he endured while being pursued by Saul for 20 years. All throughout his running David only did what pleased God. Even when he had the opportunity to kill Saul he refrained (1 Samuel 24) which showed that he was a man of integrity. David had a history of triumphant victories in the name of his God, which he sang of often, as we see in the Psalms. So, why then, did God choose to incite David against Israel?
”Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'”
- 2 Samuel 24:1
What we as individuals do with our folly brings forth our true character.
Although God loved and cherished David, He also wanted Israel to put their trust in Him alone. David proceeded to call a census and did not follow the requirements that the Lord commanded in those days. He too acted foolishly as his predecessor had. God knew that David would realize and repent of his ways, and therefore prove to be a tangible example of repentance for God’s people.
Often leaders falter and fail God’s people, but this does not mean that we should abandon them. Just because they don’t meet every requirement of the law perfectly, we don’t abandon them but rather we see that they too are just like us. This should prove to be a source of encouragement and strength for God’s people. What we as individuals do with our folly brings forth our true character. Do we remain in our folly or do we recognize and readily confess the error of our ways?
”But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.'”
- 2 Samuel 24:10
When we covenant with the LORD, we can rely on His Spirit to convict us - not so that we experience shame and regret, on the contrary, so that we may be reconciled with Him. God loved Israel, but their hearts tended toward idol-worship and trusting in men rather than trusting in God. Therefore God, in His sovereignty, used His faithful servant David to bring His people near to Him by showing them the way back to Himself.
He knew that only God had the power to deal with this iniquitY.
God displayed His process of redemption through David’s life. David confessed his wrongdoing for what it was, a great offense against his God - ultimately it was a lack of trust in God’s ability to keep David and Israel safe from destruction. Then, take notice what David did and did not do as a result of his confession. He didn’t hang his head in shame, but he boldly and humbly laid the responsibility of forgiveness at the feet of His God. He knew that only God had the power to deal with this iniquity. One thing to remember about confession is that although God takes away our sin there are often consequences that we still experience as a result of our rebellion. God shows us this reality in His response to David.
“... Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.”
- 2 Samuel 24:12
God is gracious to David even as He doles out his punishment. How often do we even give our own children ‘options’ for their punishments? Not often. But because David went to His Father and confessed his sin, God showed mercy to him. And we can see that the true measure of this man David’s character comes through in his choice of punishment. David chooses this time to trust in the Lord - not in men, but in the great mercy and justice of his God.
“Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
- 2 Samuel 24:14
through David’s confident trust, God proved to all of Israel that He indeed was a merciful God.
David knew he could count on the mercy of his God. And through David’s confident trust, God proved to all of Israel that He indeed was a merciful God. Did this mean that, in His mercy, there would be no suffering to endure? By no means! 70,000 men died from the pestilence that was sent on Israel by the LORD. How did David react to the death toll? He manned up and boldly went to the LORD in the face of the great evil that was working against his people. He took ownership of his sin and acted as a scapegoat and bore the sins of his people, so that their lives would be spared.
“Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people and said, 'Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.'”
- 2 Samuel 24:17
David therefore became a foreshadowing of Christ as our scapegoat. He was a king and priest who made atonement for his sin-stained people. What a wonderful example of Christ-like leadership that he displayed! Through his life we see God’s loving-kindness toward those of us who believe. All in all, David was a leader who boldly poured out his heart to the LORD in all that he said and did. He shows us how to trust in the merciful kindness of our loving King - He who took our sin upon Himself in order that we might be reconciled back to God.
Karen Savage wants to live in a world where Christ is Glorified. When she's not serving her family, you can find her serving others. Her favorite Scripture is John 15:7-8 ESV.