Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1 (ESV)
Satan (the one who opposes God and accuses his people), is a real being, he is not like God so he is NOT all knowing, all powerful or all present, the Devil is a fallen Angel, he can only be in one place at a time doing one thing at a time. Often we see him involved in high profile cases like Job’s trial, Jesus temptation and here he tempts David with the aim of destroying God’s people.
We need to be aware that Satan and his vast network of fellow demons are at work in the world today and often in this same context, moving leaders to sin which brings destruction to the people.
Paul is aware of this invisible war and reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab. 1 Chronicles 21:6 (ESV)
Joab was so often a good leader and this was one of his better moments where he refused to fulfil the Kings demand by skipping two of the tribes. We can learn from his example that we ought to fear God rather than man. See Mark 8:33 and Galatians 1:10 where Paul states “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 1 Chronicles 21:13 (ESV)
God’s discipline is not vindictive or cruel but is tempered by his mercy. We must learn from this when we are in authority and need to deal out discipline too over our children for example or a subordinate at work. Jesus clearly instructs us in Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Also see Jude 22-23.
And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O LORD my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.” 1 Chronicles 21:17 (ESV)
David is Christlike in his leadership offering himself for the people, this is the heart of true intercession. A good leader will sacrifice himself for the people he leads. Jesus taught us that true leadership is servanthood and true greatness requires sacrifice.
Jesus declares in Mark 9:35 “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Paul echoes this in 1 Corinthians 9:19 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”
The Apostle John reminds us in 1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”
But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 1 Chronicles 21:24 (ESV)
There is a cost in our walk, cost brings value and will cause us to treasure what is brought. Jesus teaches us to count the cost in Luke 14:28-33 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?…So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”
The benefits of discipleship far outweighs the cost!
And David built there an altar to the LORD and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. 1 Chronicles 21:26 (ESV)
David was a man of Prayer like Elijah who God also answered by fire from heaven. James reminds us in James 5:17 “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.”
For David said, “Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house that is to be built for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and glory throughout all lands. I will therefore make preparation for it.” So David provided materials in great quantity before his death. 1 Chronicles 22:5 (ESV)
We should have the same spirit of excellence with all we do for God, for the rise and spread of his fame throughout the earth
gold, silver, bronze, and iron. Arise and work! The LORD be with you!” 1 Chronicles 22:16 (ESV)
This same call goes out to God’s people today, we should arise and work, because God is with us. As Jesus reminds us in John 9:4 “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.”
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV)
This is why bible reading, bible study and submission to good bible teaching is so important, the word of God needs to be divided correctly, when taken out of context it is at best not helpful and at worst rank heresy.
We are all called to be God’s approved workers rightly handling God’s precious word. We should not get into endless debates which are a distraction and waste of time
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19 (ESV)
This scripture helps us deal with the mystery of election, God know those who are his so we should not waste our time trying to figure that out, we should focus on departing from evil in our own lives, it is our sanctification that concerns us not the secret will of God in election. We make our calling and election sure (to us) by living as God commands.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 2 Timothy 2:22 (ESV)
There must be a conscious running away form lust and sin and a running toward purity, faith and love. We should see Gods commands not as a tightrope wire to walk between righteousness and sin but a staring line to run from, toward God. We should not teether on the edge of darkness but run away from it lest we slip
correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 2:25 (ESV)
We must remember this when we need to correct those opposing the truth
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. Psalm 86:11 (ESV)
God is our great teacher, we agree with this prayer today that our hearts will be single, devoted to him, not double minded.