2 Samuel 24.
"And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel." (2 Samuel 24:25)
WHAT'S WRONG WITH A CENSUS? In the previous chapter we read David's "last words", but here the book ends by looking at another failure in the latter part of his life. Though David is a biblical hero, there are no sinless heroes except Jesus. David, a "man after God's own heart", must be viewed in the context of his times. There is a progress of revelation in biblical history: David, though not qualified to be a church elder in the NT period (too many wives!), yet he was different from other Mideastern kings of his day. His commitment to the one God, to the law, to righteousness and justice, and his compassion toward people in need excelled in his day and age. We end 2 Samuel, however, with a note of failure, because -- and even Joab noted this -- David is beginning to delight in his own power. A census gave the king a picture of how strong his armies were and could lead him to quicker military action based upon might rather than right. Up until now David seemed more concerned with being right before God rather than showing off his great power.
THE SACRIFICE THAT ENDED THE PLAGUE. Even though David repents, God's judgment comes upon him and his kingdom. David chooses to fall into the Lord's merciful hands rather than the hand of human enemies (v 14). The plague takes many lives but soon ends. And here is why this story is the culmination of 1 & 2 Samuel: David himself pays for the land and for the sacrifice which will stop the judgment from striking Jerusalem. In this David becomes a picture of his greater Son, Jesus, who at his own great cost will be the Sacrifice which averts God's judgment. Arauna's threshing floor, which was the same site where Abraham offered Isaac (Gen 22:1-19), would become the location of the temple which Solomon would build. And that leads us into 1 Kings, beginning tomorrow.
"But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)
CHILDREN OF PROMISE. Our way of approaching and relating to God is not based upon the law, nor upon our works. Christ himself has fulfilled all of our legal obligations before God and in him we are brought into a relationship with God as children, as family members with all the joy, freedom, and security that comes with a covenant of grace. Paul gives an allegory, or an extended parable, showing how this was foreshadowed even in the Old Testament (vv 21-31). The chart above shows the points of contrast he makes between the two covenants, old and new.
REFLECT. We begin the Christian life often with a strong awareness of being adopted by God (v 6; cf Rom 8:15), but afterwards, even like the Galatians, we may lapse into an unbelieving, fearful, insecure, works-oriented arrangement, and so we lose the joy of being God's beloved children! How do you presently relate to God? As beloved children of the Father, or as fearful slaves? The key is looking in faith to Christ who has accomplished everything needed to bring us eternally into the secure and loving presence of God.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.