Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17
Read the “0415 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” – (2 Samuel 24:1)
“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1)
“And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.” – (2 Samuel 24:17)
This is one of those passages of Scripture that I have a difficult time understanding. The Scripture clearly says in verse 1 (above) that God moved David against Israel; but then in verse 17, David confesses what he had done against Israel to the Lord as sin. Here we have another example of the sovereignty of God in conjunction with the free will of man. To complicate matters even more, look at what it says in 1 Chronicles 21 about the same event: the blame here is placed upon Satan. In our passage today it certainly looks as if God was forcing David to sin against Him, which in turn brings about the wrath of God upon the people of Israel. What is going on here? Did God command it, or did Satan tempt David to do it? I believe that it was in David’s heart to number the people long before the actual numbering took place. Man’s heart is desperately wicked. There are all kinds of sins inside of it. The idea to number the people originated with Satan, because he wanted to get David to take his eyes off of God, and instead trust in his military strength. I think that God kept David from fulfilling what was in his heart for a while, but then because of His anger at Israel (and David), He eventually allows it. I believe the same thing happened with Pharaoh of Egypt. The Scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but it also says that Pharaoh’s heart was already hardened. I don’t think that God caused Pharaoh to hate Israel. He already did. God finally just removed the restraint that was keeping Pharaoh back. Satan is on a leash too. He can only do what God allows him to do.
This brings me to an application of this principle in our lives. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit of God is the restraining power that keeps all evil from breaking loose on the earth. The bottom line in all of this is that Satan will tempt you to sin, but God will not cause you to sin; but He will allow you to sin, and allow you to be tempted. However, I also believe that there are many times when He keeps us from sinning against Him through His indwelling Holy Spirit.
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” – (James 1:13-14)
By the way. You may be wondering why God would be against the numbering of the people. The reason is simple. He did not want Israel trusting in their numbers. He wanted them to trust in Him. They could beat any opposing army out there, regardless of size, as long as they were right with God.
“So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.“ (2 Samuel 24:15)
Cindy and I were discussing this passage and we both agreed that verse fifteen bears a striking resemblance to our situation today. God sent pestilence (disease) into Israel because David had committed the sin of numbering the people. This pestilence resulted in the deaths of seventy-thousand men. This Covid-19 pestilence that we are facing has thus far killed 123,000 throughout the world, and 26,000 in America alone. Though there will certainly be more deaths before it is all over, I think we should ask ourselves why is God allowing this to happen to our world. Is God trying to get our attention? Is He chastening us for our sin? Is he purifying His people? Perhaps the answer is: “all of the above.”
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Posted in Thoughts from 2 Samuel by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.