A Step Too Far
Lord, help me remember there is cost to faithfully following the one who was crucified. I say, "Yes."
2 SAMUEL 24:1-17
What motivated David here?
The prophet Samuel had made it clear to Israel that kings come with health warnings attached (1 Sam. 8:10-18). "Strong leadership," whether in politics or in the church, can be a blessing and a danger. In this episode David comes close to becoming a toxic king. When he is settled and secure he commissions a census. This seemingly innocent action has the potential to centralize power and militarize the nation, upsetting the social order. Even Joab balks at the prospect (3).
To his credit, David recognizes what he has done and immediately regrets his action (10). Through David's repentance the nation will pull back from the brink. But the incident is not without cost. The prophet Gad gives three possible penances (13). David does not make a choice: he leaves the outcome to God. Walter Brueggemann comments, "At his best, David fears God the most; he also trusts God the most."
Paul warns us to take heed when we feel secure, lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Sometimes it is when we feel most confident that we are most in danger of making a mistake.
When you take stock of your life, count on the strength of the God who promises to care for you.
Father, help me never to lose the sense of my smallness and of Your greatness.