Focal passages: 2 Samuel 24:10-25
Deep regret struck David after issuing his order to count all his fighting men. It may have been pride in marveling at the size of his army or unfaithfulness by trusting in human might over God’s power. He was right to confess his sins as soon as he became aware, something that all believers should do.
We learn from 24:1 that “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel,” which is why He incited David to take the census. God was committed to the holiness of His people and would not retract from disciplining them with consequences for their sins; 70,000 people died as a consequence of the plague, proving that sin always carries consequences.
Still, believers can experience God’s gracious compassion and reach the point of humility that He wants for them. David was given three choices of discipline and he ruled out the one that dealt with him personally (2 Samuel 24:14). However, when he sees the angel striking down the people, he owns up to his personal responsibility as Israel’s shepherd (2 Samuel 24:17). David humbled himself and called on God to take his life instead.
Our Good Shepherd laid down His life to absorb the consequences of sin. God’s justice requires punishment, but His mercy provides a way for peace. In response, believers should follow the way of David who offered his best to God. He said “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).
True repentance costs. If it is easy and nothing changes, then it probably doesn’t represent the kind of life change that true repentance brings. In the end David purchased the land upon which Solomon’s great temple would eventually be built; on the site where the Lord relented from striking down the people.
Christians can joyously look to the cross of Christ where God’s love was poured out in another act of mercy, where a final sacrifice for sins would be offered and the temple veil torn in two.