2 Samuel 24:10-25; Acts 4:1-22; Psalms 23:1-2; Proverbs 27:10
OT: “David’s conscience troubled him after he had taken a census of the troops. He said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away your servant’s guilt.” …So Gad went to David, told him the choices, and asked him, “Do you want three years of famine to come on your land, to flee from your foes three months while they pursue you, or to have a plague in your land three days? Now, consider carefully what answer I should take back to the one who sent me.” David answered Gad, “I have great anxiety. Please, let us fall into the Lord’s hands because his mercies are great, but don’t let me fall into human hands.” So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the appointed time, and from Dan to Beer-sheba seventy thousand men died. Then the angel extended his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, but the Lord relented concerning the destruction and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough, withdraw your hand now!” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite… Gad came to David that day and said to him, “Go up and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” …Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David replied, “To buy the threshing floor from you in order to build an altar to the Lord, so the plague on the people may be halted.” Araunah said to David, “My lord the king may take whatever he wants and offer it. Here are the oxen for a burnt offering and the threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. Your Majesty, Araunah gives everything here to the king.” Then he said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” The king answered Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it from you for a price, for I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for twenty ounces of silver. He built an altar to the Lord there and offered burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord was receptive to prayer for the land, and the plague on Israel ended.” (2 Samuel 24:10, 13-16, 18, 21-25 CSB)
Late in his reign, David ordered a census of the land. He didn’t order the census out of a need to know. He ordered the census out of pride. Even Joab (the leader of the military) and the rest of David’s officers were opposed to the census and counseled him against it, but David insisted and his willfulness prevailed. The census took 9 months to complete – so David walked in willful pride for 9 months. After he was given the results of the census, it was then that David realized that he had greatly sinned. When he asked for forgiveness, David was given 3 choices. Those 3 choices are born out of the consequences God had laid out to His people centuries before… the consequences of rebelling against the ways of God: famine, military defeat, and pestilence. Our sin doesn’t just affect us – it affects innocent people around us. When a public figure sins publicly, it affects a great number of people. In this case, 70,000 people lost their lives… and that was God being merciful. I have always been struck by David’s willingness to allow God to choose the consequences. He trusted God so much and had so much faith in God’s mercy that he put his life and the fate of the nation in God’s hand and trusted Him to dole out the consequences. Even in God’s merciful administration of the consequences of David’s sin, He went even further in His mercy and stopped the angel of death before the full 3 days was up. His only instruction to David was to sacrifice and offering to the Lord at the threshing floor of Araunah. David did just that. When Araunah offered to give everything to David, David refused. He knew that what he offered to God needed to be a sacrifice… it needed to cost him something. So David bought the entire property and the livestock, built an altar, and gave an offering of worship to God. That piece of property happened to be the place where Abraham offered his son Isaac… and it became the location for the temple. Worship that doesn’t cost you anything is not worship. While we may not offer animals any longer, we do offer ourselves… as living sacrifices. Our worship of God costs us our rights to live our life according to our desires and our ways. True worship now means that we sacrifice our “rights” for the sake of God’s kingdom purposes. As we do that, He blesses us with His blessing.
NT: “While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening… The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family… Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man, by what means he was healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing here before you healthy. This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus… So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”” (Acts 4:1-3, 5-6, 8-13, 18-20 CSB)
I’ve mentioned this before – but what a difference the Holy Spirit makes. Peter and John were arrested and brought before the same counsel that had Jesus crucified. Instead of denying Christ and shrinking back in fear, the filled-with-the-Holy-Spirit Peter stood up with boldness and said, “let it be known that the miracle that just occurred was done in the name of Jesus… the same Jesus that you rejected and killed. That Jesus is alive and is still working signs and wonders in His name.” The religious leaders could do nothing to dispel the miracle that had occurred. All they could do was threaten Peter and John. Peter and John’s response is an example of a righteous civil disobedience. The religious leaders were telling Peter and John to directly disobey the will of the Lord. That was something that Peter and John would not do. They would continue to clearly and boldly proclaim salvation in the name of Jesus. Their obedience to the Lord was going to cost them greatly, but their desire to obey the Lord greatly outweighed the threats of the counsel of leaders… and they trusted their lives to God’s hand.