The text before us today is symbolic, strategic and very significant. Leaders and believers alike, no matter how powerful, great, holy they might be are still human. They can still fail and falter, yet, if they would return in repentance and deep contrition, God in his mercy will surely pardon and even turn their mistakes into a miracle.
David, like Hezekiah in Isaiah 39 was spared by God and his years of leadership extended. In the later days of his reign, he committed an error of great magnitude. His heart was lifted up and in his pride, he numbered the children of Israel. Note that God always commanded the numbering of Israel in the past, so the census in itself wasn’t the crime but the motive which informed it. David like Hezekiah wanted to show off. The same way in which the children of Israel would later suffer at the hands of the Babylonian (Isaiah 39:6-7) so the recompense came to David and the children of Israel at this time.
But note the difference between the two kings, while Hezekiah did not repent of his sin, David’s heart smote him after he had numbered the people and David said unto the lord, “I have sinned” (verse 10). Even before Gad the prophet would accost him, he had already taken responsibility for his sin.
We can also appreciate David’s genuine repentance in his choice of the punishment. The wealthy including David and his household could escape the famine, while the strong could survive the battle, either of these two could keep David safe, but a plague as we have presently seen in our world today, does not know the rich or the poor. Anybody could fall its victim. David also knew this. Most importantly, he shows his trust in God’s unfailing mercy over man’s cruelty and opted to be punished by God directly. God proved him right in his statement in verse 14 and relented in his anger after 70, 000 have died within a space of one day! We must not trivialize God’s instructions. We must beware not to treat his laws with both contempt and levity. He is a merciful God, yet a consuming fire.
When David repented, God still showcased his wisdom. Through this incidence, David proved himself yet again, the man after God’s own heart. He acknowledges his shortcoming and will always repent in dust and ashes. Even till old age, he recognised that he was nothing without God. He offered peace offerings to restore fellowship between God and his people. He offered burnt offerings for sin to be forgiven; for without the shedding of blood there will be no remission of sin.
The threshing floor of Araunah is the same mountain where Isaac was to be sacrificed on mount moriah. It would later become the site for the Jerusalem temple built by Solomon. What do you think would have happened if David did not insist on making a full payment for it? May we like David be conscious of the gifts we offer to God. May they be worthy and may they cost us handsomely. It cost God his only begotten son to redeem man. When David’s obedience was complete, the lord relented of his punishment. One thing to be noted in David’s life is that no punishment due to any of his sin was carried over to the next generation. This is because he repented of them promptly and received the due recompense for them in his life time here on earth.
As we conclude this series of lessons today may we note God’s delight from Isaiah 66:1-2;
May we be guided by this fact that God would rather go with only one man who does not trivialize his word but rather trembles at it, than with a multitude who would serve God in their own preconceived ways.