Bible Insights

Satan Entices King David to Sin

The King Confesses His Mistake and Asks God to Take Away the Guilt

In 1 Chronicles 21 we read the account of David telling Joab to take a census of the people to determine how many fighting men are in the nation. This was Satan’s doing who tempted David into numbering his military. This could cause him to put his trust in the size of his armies and not God to give him victory, as he had always done.

Joab completed the momentous task and reported the numbers back to David. The king was immediately grieved for what he had done and confessed his sin to God. He implored the Lord to take away the guilt for his foolish act.

Today we know that Jesus has died to take away our guilt and absolve us from our sins. But this had not yet taken place in David’s time, and he had no such assurance. His guilt weighed him down. He confessed his sin and asked God to take away the guilt.

God gave him three sentence options and allowed David to select his punishment. David made his decision, opting for the one that was the shortest in duration and that came from God’s hand and not from human hands. It was a three-day-long plague over the nation.

It was David—and David alone—who sinned, but the whole nation received the penalty for David’s mistake. This doesn’t seem fair, and during the plague, David realized this.

He rightly confessed he was the one who sinned, and it was wrong for the people to suffer for his shortcoming. Yet instead of asking God to punish only him, David asks the Lord to punish him and his family.

Why didn’t David ask God to punish him alone?

Yet another question is why didn’t David—the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22)—ask for mercy instead of judgment?

There are three lessons we can learn from this story:

  1. A leader’s shortcomings affect those who follow.
  2. Though we deserve punishment for the wrong things we do, we can ask God for mercy to take away the guilt.
  3. Through Jesus, Father God forgives and forgets our sins.

May we hold onto this.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Chronicles 21-23 and today’s post is on 1 Chronicles 21:8. We can also read this account in 2 Samuel 24.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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