Today you should read: 2 Samuel 24
Did David really sin in this passage? It looks like God told David to take a census of the people of Israel then David understands it to be sin in v. 10 of the passage. At first glance this passage is rather confusing and seemingly contradictory. Of course the Bible is completely true and inerrant so there must be a way to would reconcile the passage. To do this we will look at a parrallel passage that depicts this very event in 1 Chronicles 21:1
“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.”
So was it the “Lord” or was it “Satan?” Since we know that God himself does not sin or author sin (James 1:13-14) then we must conclude that God allowed Satan to incite David. So, David followed the encouragement of Satan and had his commander Joab go all throughout Israel to take a census of the people. Now, why would taking a census of the people of Israel be sinful? To me it would seem somewhat responsible for the king to know how many people were under his command. David was responsible for all of these people. The truth is we do not know exactly what was sinful about this particular census because the passage does not specifically say. However, I think that based upon the result of the census we can gather an understanding of David’s reason for the census.
Verse 9 says, “and Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.”
David was interested in knowing how many warriors that he had. This may suggest that David was trusting in the might of his own army and not in the might of God. The ESV study bible states, “By numbering the people for military purposes (v.9), David apparently showed lack of trust in the Lord to supply the necessary men when needed, and wrongful pride in the hundreds of thousands of forces at his command (see v.10). Joab knew it was wrong.” David’s pride is what caused the census to happen and made the taking of the census sinful. So, because of David’s sin the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel for three days and 70,000 men lost their lives. All of this because of one man’s selfish pride.
So what can we learn?
1. We must beware of our foolish pride. On the surface David’s request seemed innocent enough but it is not always the action that is judged but the motivation of the heart. If David’s motivation would have been to glorify God or to figure out a way to better care for God’s people then maybe his taking of the census would not have been a sinful act. A census in and of itself is not sinful. So we should stop justify our actions solely based upon what we are doing but upon why we are doing them. Then maybe we would not become self righteous about our church attendance as our saving grace but by our love for Jesus and our desire to glorify God.
2. Sin not only destroys us but everyone around us as well. Husbands, your sin impacts your wife. Wives, your sin impacts your husbands. Dads, your sin will impact your children. Moms, your sin will impact your children. Pastors, your sin will impact your congregation. Bosses, your sin will impact your employees. I could continue but I think you get the idea.
3. God is just but also merciful. God could have destroyed all of Israel because of David’s sin but he did not. However, he did punish them because he is just. There is no doubt that we face the very real consequences of our sin on a daily basis. Whether it is a divorce rate that it is at an all time high or a tragic school shooting, the markings of sin are all around us every day. However, thankfully for those who believe in Jesus Christ we know that our sin has already been paid for and it is by grace that we are set free. (Romans 8:1)
Posted by: Chad Wiles