David’s Choice, and Ours
David had been king of Israel for years. He had fought the Lord’s battles to gain all the land that God had given Israel, which had not been theirs before.
He had brought the capital to Jerusalem. He had victories on every side.
But, as with every believer, there are temptations. And one of these was a whisper of our adversary, Satan.
1 Chronicles 21:1-2 “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.”
[The children of Israel had been numbered in the wilderness (Numbers 1:2-3,18-19), after the Tabernacle had been set up, so that they could each be in their place according to their tribes, around the Tabernacle.
And for each to give an offering for the service of the Tabernacle, according to their tribes. (Numbers 7:1-2)]
But that was the last time God had said, that all Israel was to be numbered.
But now David wants to number them. The record shows that this suggestion was not his idea.
But he did yield to it, and commanded that Israel be numbered.
1 Chronicles 21:7 “And God was displeased with this thing, therefore He smote Israel.”
Now, we will pause here and ask: why did God let Satan tempt David and fall into this sin?
Wasn’t he the man after God’s own heart? (Acts 13:22).
He was, but every man is tempted, when he is “drawn away” from God’s will, by something he wants.
James 1:14-15 “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
Certainly David did not want to sin?
No, but he did want to see how great he had made his country. A little pride, yielded great trouble.
1 Chronicles 21:8 “And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
One thing you could count on with David: once he knew God was displeased, he did something about it.
So God gives David a choice:
1 Chronicles 21:9-10, 12 “And the Lord spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,
Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things: choose the one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
Either three years famine, or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the Lord, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advice thyself what word that I shall bring again to Him that sent me.”
God was giving this choice to David to test him. What did he really think of his God? Or His Will?
He might think like this:
Three years of famine were harsh, but they might get by. Only the weakest would die.
Three months of fighting, where the enemies win. Perhaps he would think, “I could always take back those lands; and it is only three months.”
Or three days of pestilence—illness, where God indiscriminately kills strong, and weak, old and young, according to His will.
Which would David choose?
1 Chronicles 21:13 “And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are His mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
David chose God’s hands. God’s ways. God’s mercy.
To “let me now fall now into the hand of the Lord”.
The pestilence began, and many (70,000) died. And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but the mercy of the Lord, stopped the angel, giving David time to seek the Lord:
1 Chronicles 21:17 “And David said unto God, Is it not that I commanded the people to be numbered? Even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray Thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on Thy people, that they should be plagued.”
David took full responsibility for the sin. He did not try and point to another, but confessed fully, and asked that the plague stop for Israel.
And he got an answer right away.
1 Chronicles 21:18. “Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set an altar unto the Lord in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
(This is where the angel with the sword drawn had been told to stop on his way to Jerusalem.)
1 Chronicles 21:22-23 “Then David said unto Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the Lord: thou shalt grant it to me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshingfloor instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.”
A generous offer, but…again David’s choice to honor the Lord:
1 Chronicles 21:24 “And king David said to Ornan, Nay, but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.”
David would not give another man’s livelihood, but would only give what was his, by “the full price”. It was David’s responsibility, and he would not skimp or bargain.
(A burnt offering was a sacrifice of love. David would not offer it, without paying full price for it.)
Six hundred shekels of gold was the price, so he gave it. He also built the altar from the lumber of the place, and sacrificed the oxen himself.
1 Chronicles 21:26-27 “And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the Lord; and He answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offerings.
And the Lord commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.”
David had sinned. But he came in full confession and asked for mercy.
David’s choice was God: His way. For he knew God to be merciful, and He was.
What is our choice, when it comes to God’s will and way? Do we try and bargain a better “price” when it comes to our responsibilities?
Or do we chose God, believing that even in corrections, He will deal with us in mercy?