Read 2 Samuel 23:1-27

Highlights:

David's last words; David's mighty men; his sin in numbering the people; three days' plague; David builds an altar to God.

And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done (II Sam. 24:10).

In chapter 23 the achievements of David's mighty men were made known. Did David's heart swell with pride as he thought about the achievements of his mighty warriors and his great victories?

It is not important that we know David's motive, but one thing is certain — Satan, the author of pride, prompted David to take a census to determine how many men were available for his army (see I Chr. 21:1). Although the numbering of the people seemed quite harmless, the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel (II Sam. 24:1). Even Joab recognized that David's purpose in taking the census was to enhance his own prestige (I Chr. 21:3).

There could never be a numbering of the people or a census taken without making an Atonement Offering, so that there be no plague among them (Ex. 30:12). The Atonement Offering reminded Israel how easily man can become a victim of his own success and lose his dependence upon the mercy of God.

God had not authorized this numbering of the tribes of Israel, and seventy thousand men died as a result of the judgment of God. David realized his mistake and confessed to God, I have sinned greatly (II Sam. 24:10).

David learned by experience that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's (I Sam. 17:47). God was the strength of Israel — and He is our strength. When He leads the way, there is victory; but without His sustaining grace, we are powerless. Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16:18).

Assuming that our preservation depends on our abilities is an act of pride. This attitude of self-importance and self-love brings His judgment upon us. Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom . . . But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knowth Me (Jer. 9:23-24).

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me (II Cor. 12:7).

Thought for Today:

When the Lord says, "I will send thee," you can rest assured He will provide everything necessary for the appointed task.

Christ Revealed:

Through the silver which David used to purchase the threshingfloor upon which he built . . . an altar unto the Lord (II Sam. 24:24-25). Silver symbolizes Christ's redemption offered for all on the cross. Judas said unto them, What will ye give me? . . . And they covenanted (agreed) with him for thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15).

Word Studies:

23:10 clave, clung; spoil, plunder, loot; 23:13 chief, foremost, captains; 23:14 hold, stronghold, fortification; 24:10 heart smote him, heart bothered him; 24:14 a great strait, great distress, difficulty; 24:16 stay now thine hand, do no more.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Staff: Gina Lesnefsky • Government Officials: Sen. Pat Roberts (KS), and Rep. Dan J. Benishek (MI) • Country: Bolivia (8 million) in South America • Major languages: Spanish and Quechua • Religious freedom • 92% Roman Catholic; 3% Protestant; 3% Baha'i • Prayer Suggestion: Intercede fervently in prayer for others (James 5:16).

Optional Reading: Acts 21

Memory Verse for the Week: John 11:26