April 20

Read II Samuel 23 -- 24

David never lost a battle in his 40-year reign, and, during his early years of conquest, he had often prayed for the Lord's direction. His desire at this time 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 his military strength. Instead, David should have been proclaiming to the world that it was God who made every victory possible. When we begin feeling proud of our achievements, Satan is quick to suggest wrong thoughts, as he did with David: Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (I Chronicles 21:1). It is essential to understand that the Bible does not contradict itself. The Chronicles passage further amplifies the passage in II Samuel. So it is from the standpoint of the absolute sovereignty of God over everything, including Satan, that we read: The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah (II Samuel 24:1).

It would be inconceivable for God to actually move upon David to commit this sin and then destroy 70,000 people because of it (24:15). The Holy Spirit directed the writing of II Samuel 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 our free will. This points out how very important it is to read all of the Bible in order to get a full understanding of God. The parallel account in I Chronicles 21, allows us a true understanding of God from this incident.

The census was not yet completed when the wrath of God was manifested (I 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 . . . O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant; for I have done very foolishly (II Samuel 24:10).

David's decision to insist on the census reminds us of how easily a person can lose sight of the importance of knowing all of God's Word. 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 (Exodus 30:12-13).

Because of this violation, a plague spread over the land and resulted in the deaths of 70,000 men (II Samuel 24:15; I 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 entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel (came to an end) (II Samuel 24:25).

This tragic experience of David is a reminder that ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . . But with the precious Blood of Christ (I 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 (II Samuel 24:24-25). Silver symbolizes Christs redemption, offered for all (Matthew 26:15).

Word Studies: 23:13 chief means foremost men; 23:14 a hold means the stronghold; 24:5 river means middle of the valley; 24:10 heart smote means conscience accused; 24:14 a great strait means great distress; 24:16 stay means cease, do not move.

Prayer:

Government Officials: Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) and Justice John Paul Stevens · BPM Staff: Clarence Rathbone · Pray for Precepts Ministries and Kay Arthur, Executive Vice President · Country: Dominican Republic (8 million) in the West Indies, occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola · Major language: Spanish · Religious freedom · 96% Roman Catholic (many are spiritists); 2% Protestant; 1% Afro-American spiritist · Prayer Suggestion: Ask for understanding of the Word of God as you read each day (Psalms 119:34).

Optional Reading: Acts 21

Memory Verse for the Week: I John 1:9