A Repentant Sinner

Krista Williams

Day: 55 | Plan: 1-2 Samuel

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 24

2 Samuel 24:10 (NIV) “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’”

If I had been writing the story of David’s life, I would have ended this book with David’s final words in 2 Samuel 23. What a lovely way to end the saga of David, the man after God’s own heart.

So why would Samuel instead close with this story of David’s great sin, a sin that caused the death of 70,000 of David’s men?

Perhaps to remind us of whom David really was – a repentant sinner.

Yes, he was indeed a mighty warrior, a humble shepherd, a godly king, a man who served his generation well and a man after God’s own heart. But at least six times in Scripture we read David saying, “I have sinned.” (2 Samuel 12:13, 2 Samuel 24:10, 2 Samuel 24:17, 1 Chronicles 21:8, Psalm 41:4, Psalm 51:4)

David served Israel imperfectly and this final account, like David’s reign, is a mixture of sin and repentance, failure and forgiveness, despair and hope.

In 2 Samuel 24 the Lord’s anger is against Israel, and as a result, God permits Satan to influence David’s heart to take a census of the people. (1 Chronicles 21:1) Joab questions David and tries to persuade him not to count his men, but David is utterly consumed with the numbers and insists on a census.

Opinions vary as to the particular sin David commits. It could be because he fails to collect the proper offerings, which God commands in Exodus 30:11-16. It could be David’s intentions are to boost his confidence by accessing his military strength. Perhaps David pridefully wants to magnify his achievements rather than glorifying and trusting God.

Whatever the case, immediately after the numbering is complete, David’s conscience is stricken and he realizes he made a foolish decision to pursue this project. In response to the conviction of sin, he seeks the Lord and confesses. But the consequences still come. The prophet Gad comes to tell David that God’s judgment will fall on all of Israel.

The Lord gives David three choices for judgment: a three-year famine, a three-month pursuit by his foes or a three-day pestilence from the Lord. David chooses the three-day plague on his people. Before the Lord halts His judgment, 70,000 men of Israel are dead.

God permits David to see the angel of destruction hovering over Jerusalem. And when David sees the people suffer judgment for his personal sin, he seeks the Lord through earnest confession, appealing to God for mercy. He pleads to bear the penalty himself to spare his people more punishment. (2 Samuel 24:17)

As a result, and in order to stop the plague, the prophet Gad tells David to build an altar and present a burnt offering on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David approaches Araunah to purchase the land for the offering, Araunah offers it to David at no charge and graciously tries to give David everything necessary to make the sacrifice. But David refuses. He knows the seriousness of sin. He also knows the place of sacrifice and substitution is costly.

David confesses and repents. He obeys God, buys the land and offers burnt offerings to the Lord. At the place of sacrifice, David’s fellowship with the Lord is restored, and the plague of sin’s consequences is stopped.

David was a man who imperfectly loved His perfect God. 1 and 2 Samuel give us a picture of what it truly means to be a person after God’s own heart. David was a man who did the right thing after doing the wrong thing. He trusted God to strengthen him in all his troubles. He took responsibility for sin and turned to the Lord in his sorrow. David was a repentant sinner who followed hard after God.

Maybe we’ve assumed that someone after God’s own heart is perfect, but David clearly is not. God doesn’t expect our perfection; He expects our devotion and perseverance. Through it all David persevered to do what was right, to make amends where he had failed, to return to God and rightly revere Him.

What can we learn and apply to our lives from David, a man after God’s own heart?

Prayer: Father, give me a heart like David’s that is sensitive to sin and receptive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Help me see the seriousness of my sin and quickly turn to You in humility and repentance. Lord, I confess I am so imperfect but You overwhelm me with grace and mercy. Help me to love You deeply like David and to follow hard after You each and every day of my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

More Moments:

The land David purchased and built an altar on was no ordinary piece of property. It was Mount... Read More

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