First Chronicles 21 Commentary
Yesterday, we saw hints of David’s moral failure with a reference to a time when he remained in Jerusalem. Today we can look at David’s pride in wanting to know his military strength like the victories depended on it.
By his own admission, David did ‘a very foolish thing’. Ultimately, sin is a matter of ultimate stupidity. Every sinner knows it.
David’s army commander, Joab, provides the voice of reason. The LORD uses Joab’s courage and closeness to David to directly warn the king. But pride is a very difficult dog to tame. This head of mine has planned countless successes. Who are you to speak to me like that? Pride is the sin of the blessed and the successful.
Success kills more than it preserves.
Some natural disasters are not natural at all; they are man-made. David had the option of causing three years of famine. Some defeats are not always a consequence of poor planning and a lack of hard work. This was option number two for David’s ‘great sin’. Instead, David opted for three days of a national-wide plague.
The three days of national-wide plague was stopped. Not because of David’s poorly reasoned plea that it was his fault and not the innocent people’s fault. Because of him, the people enjoyed peace and prosperity. It naturally follows that, because of him, the same people would experience blessing reversals. Every leader must know this fact. What a man does has importance beyond their own nose. The plague is stopped because of the LORD’s generosity.
David used the word ‘great’ to describe his own sin. He was right. How the saint describes his own sin becomes important in the process of restoration. Never dismiss the seriousness of sin. Never make it light by having countless excuses. Call it by its right name.
The chapter closes very beautifully. David’s fear of the LORD prevented him from going to sacrifice at Gibeon. But he needed to solve the problem quickly. He sacrificed there and then, at Araunah’s threshing floor. You don’t have to wait for Sunday. You don’t have to travel to the place of worship. The LORD is there where you are. The prayer can be heard from anywhere.
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