2 Samuel 24
2 Samuel concludes with a story of King David making a bad decision and what he did about it. King David decides to take a census or count all his people. Now that probably doesn’t sound like a big deal; here in America we take one every 10 years. However in the nation of Israel there was a right way to do it. 2 Samuel isn’t really clear about why David taking the census was wrong. We don’t know if he did it the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. What we do know is that before they did it, Joab asked why he would want to do a census, making me think Joab knew that David was doing something wrong. But why would it be wrong to count your people? Just counting them wasn’t a problem. The problem comes when we start relying on the number of our people (or anything else) instead of God. God wanted David to rely on Him for his provision and security, not on how big his army was! But David counted his men any way.
However, as soon as the census was over, David knew he had done wrong. (Have you ever done that? Knew just as soon as you did something it was wrong?) He told God he had sinned and asked God to forgive him. The next day, Gad, a prophet, comes and tells David that God will give him a choice of punishment. They can have 3 years of famine, 3 months of running from their enemies or 3 days of plague. David answered that the Lord could choose since He was merciful, but to not let him fall into the hands of his enemies. So God sent the plague.
The plague swept through Israel and killed 70,000 men. There was an angel administering the plague and God told it to stop at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. King David went to Araunah and asked to buy his threshing floor to build an altar. Araunah offered to give it to the king but David said he would not offer anything to the Lord that did not cost him something. Buying the floor from Araunah, David then built the altar and offered a sacrifice to the Lord for ending the plague.
King David made a choice to sin by conducting a census. Later, he realized his mistake but a price had to be paid. Then when the punishment was over he made a sacrifice to the Lord. Our sins can always be forgiven but that doesn’t mean there will not be consequences. We must be ready to deal with the results of our actions.
Why do you think King David insisted on paying for the sacrifice? Which means more, something you are given or something you work for? Which is a more special gift, something someone just has lying around or something they work for? What does God value more, a gift out of your abundance or a gift that is sacrificial? Remember God knows how much things mean to you and He honors when you sacrifice for Him!