April 20

Read 2 Samuel 23 -- 24

In Today's Reading:

The last words of David need our attention (2 Samuel 23:1) l Another sin of David is recorded as a warning to us l David's last recorded sin of taking a military census results in the judgment of God l David builds an altar l His sacrifice l The three-day plague l David says: Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great (24:14).

Verse for Today:

David's heart (conscience) smote (accused) him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in [what] I have done (2 Samuel 24:10).

David had never lost a battle in his 40-year reign and during his early years of conquest, he usually prayed for the Lord's direction. At this time, his desire to take a census of his army was not based on being threatened by invaders. It appears that it was an act of pride to let the world know of his military strength. Instead, David should have proclaimed to the world that it was God who had made every victory possible. Satan is quick to suggest self-centered thoughts, such as feeling proud of our achievements, as he did with David when Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1). David was not forced, but he was influenced by Satan to number the people. The Chronicles' record of this event leads us to see the absolute sovereignty of God over everyone and everything, including Satan. Since God is the final authority, it is written that God moved David [to] number Israel and Judah (2 Samuel 24:1).

It would be inconceivable for God to actually influence David to commit this sin and then destroy 70,000 people because of that sin (24:15). The Holy Spirit directed the writing of II Samuel and I Chronicles to let us see that all human activity is under the sovereign will of God, Who allows us to stubbornly go our own way, for He will not violate the free will that He has given to all of us. This incident points out how important it is to read all of the Bible in order to have a more complete understanding of God.

The census was not yet completed when the wrath of God was manifested (1 Chronicles 27:24). Then, David's heart smote him after . . . he had numbered the people. And David said [to] the Lord, I have sinned greatly in [what] I have done (2 Samuel 24:10). He did not blame Satan or God, but prayed: O Lord, take away the iniquity of [Your] servant; for I have done very foolishly.

There is no record that numbering (taking a census) was prohibited. But the Law did state: When [you take] the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul [to] the Lord, when [you number] them; that there be no plague among them, when [you number] them. This they shall give, every one that [passes] among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary . . . [a] half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord (Exodus 30:12-13). The shekel was silver, symbolic of redemption.

Because of this violation, not presenting the silver half shekel, a plague spread over the land and resulted in the deaths of 70,000 men (2 Samuel 24:15; 1 Chronicles 21:1-14). After his confession and repentance, David built an altar [there to] the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel (came to an end when the sacrifice was made) (2 Samuel 24:25). David's decision to insist on the census and to overlook the requirements reminds us of the tragic results of not knowing all of God's Word.

The half shekels of silver under the Old Covenant, foreshadowed the far more costly price paid for our redemption: Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . But with the precious Blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Christ Revealed:

Through the silver which David used to purchase the threshing floor upon which he built an altar unto the Lord (2 Samuel 24:24-25). Silver symbolizes Christ's redemption offered for all. And (Judas) said [to] them, What will [you] give me, and I will deliver Him [to] you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15).

Word Studies:

23:10 clave = clung; spoil = plunder, loot; 23:13 chief = foremost; 23:14 hold = stronghold; 24:14 a great strait = great distress; 24:16 stay = cease, do not move.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Sen. Pat Roberts (KS), and Justice John Paul Stevens · Pray for the President · Country: Bulgaria (9 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Bulgarian and ethnic languages · Newly opened to evangelism · 62% Eastern Orthodox; 10% Muslim; 1% Roman Catholic; less than 1% Protestant · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 2:1-6).

Optional Reading: Acts 21

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 10:17