David Deals with His Own Sin
Even in his old age, David continued to be susceptible to Satan’s temptations (see 1 Chronicles 21:1). With pride in his heart, he decided to take a census of all the men in Israel to see how big his army had become. Joab, who was now officially David’s chief commander again, tried to talk him out of it. He knew that only God had the right to order a census to be taken. In addition, God had told Moses that each man who was counted in a census had to pay a ransom fee to the Tabernacle. And God had declared that the divine penalty for not paying this fee would be a plague (see Exodus 30:11-16). Yet, David made no provisions for this payment in his plan. Although Joab and the other commanders were opposed to the census, David refused to change his mind. Reluctantly, David’s commanders traveled throughout the nation numbering the men eligible to go to battle. When the census was finally completed, Joab reported to the king that he had over one million men eligible to go to war. As soon as he received this information, David regretted his decision. He knew what he had done was wrong. He begged God to forgive him. God sent a prophet named Gad to tell David that he would be punished. He could choose his punishment from one of three options: a devastating famine that would last three years; an invading army that would destroy the country for three months; or a deadly plague sent by God that would sweep across the land for three days. All three terrified David! He told Gad, “I’d rather fall into the hands of God than the hands of men, because God might show mercy.” He chose the plague. So, God sent an angel with an outbreak that killed 70,000 people in Israel. As the angel continued and was about to unleash the plague on Jerusalem, God stopped him. The angel was standing above a threshing floor of a man named Araunah with his sword stretched out over the city. David looked up and saw the angel. He fell on his face and cried, “Oh Lord, I’m the one who sinned—not these people. What have they done? Punish me and my family—not them.” Just then, the prophet named Gad arrived with a message from God. He told David to build an altar to the Lord at that site so the plague would stop. David hurried to the threshing floor and offered to buy it from Araunah. Araunah wanted to give it to the king, but David said, “No, I will buy it at full price. I refuse to make a sacrifice that doesn’t cost me anything.” He also bought oxen and wood. He built an altar and prayed to the Lord. God heard David’s prayers and sent fire from heaven. It consumed the offering—and the plague stopped!! This all took place at exactly the same location where Abraham was willing to offer his son Isaac to the Lord (see #17 - Isaac on the Altar). It soon became the site for the magnificent temple that Solomon would build.
Do you ever look at others who are sinning and think, “I would never do that!?” The truth is, none of us will ever outgrow temptation. And Satan will never give up trying to trick us and trap us. We need to be willing to listen to the counsel and advice of others if we want to avoid doing wrong things. Sin always has consequences!