Text: 1 Chronicles 18-21
Observe: Chapter 18 records Israel’s victories over the other nations in the region. Under King David’s leadership, they defeat the Philistines, Moabites, Arameans, and all the other kingdoms around Israel. King David takes the plunder in weapons and various articles made of gold, silver and bronze, which he then dedicates to the Lord God. Chapter 18 ends with these words, “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”.
Chapters 19 and 20 describes how the Ammonites insulted David’s goodwill gesture when their old king died, and rebelled against Israel. They even hired the Arameans to fight alongside them, but when they came up against Israel’s army, they all fled. David took their crown and their treasures, and enslaved their people as punishment. He also marched against and defeated the Philistines, and in a parallel story to his own, his nephew slew a giant Philistine warrior.
In Chapter 21, however, things take turn for the worse. Satan appeals to David’s pride and persuades him to take a census of his fighting men to show just how powerful a king he was. When the Lord saw David’s sin, He confronts David through the words of his wise general, Joab. When David repents, he is given choice of punishments; three years of famine, three months of military losses, or three day of the Lord’s plague on the land. David choses to be punished by the Lord’s own hand of plague, and seventy thousand of his people died as a result. As the people of the city of Jerusalem were dying, the Lord, in His mercy, relented and said enough punishment had been meted out.
The Angel of the Lord who was handling the plague was at the threshing floor of Araunah, a Jebusite when God relented. David realized that it was his sinfulness had caused this great punishment to fall on his people, and asked the Lord not to punish them for his sins, but to let His hand fall on him and his family. God ordered David to build an altar and make sacrifices right there on the threshing floor. Although Araunah would have given David everything he needed to build the altar and make the sacrifices, David insisted on paying for all of it. When he had offered his sacrifices, and did as the Lord commanded, God withdrew the plague, and David was chastened.
Interpret: Chapter 18 says, “The Lord gave David victory wherever he went”. God blessed His people Israel by conquering all the kingdoms in the land. But as the victories added up, and Israel became more powerful, King David forgot that it was by the power of the Lord that he was so successful, not by his own strength. When David’s pride swelled within him and he wanted to see just how big and powerful his army was, God reminded him that it was by His will alone that Israel succeeded, not by David’s leadership. David was humbled and when he realized his error, he asked God not to punish the people for his sin. He even insisted on paying for everything needed for the sacrifice from his own pocket because it would be no “sacrifice’ at all to give God anything that wasn’t his.
Application: It’s easy for us to forget God when everything is going our way and the living is easy. It’s easy for us to believe that our successes are due to our own talent and efforts. It’s easy for us to take pride in our own accomplishments. But, we need to remember that is was God who created us; God who gave us our talents and abilities; and God who gave us the opportunities to succeed. It is by His hand that we live and move and have our being, Acts 17:28. When David compared the people of Israel to being a flock of sheep and said that he was their shepherd, he also said that he should be the one to be punished and the people should be spared. It is an interesting foreshadowing of one of his descendants, who was the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Jesus, who would ultimately take the punishment for us all and spare us from the judgment and punishment of God.
Questions: Have you ever sat back with a kind of smug pride in one of your accomplishments without giving thanks to God for His provision? Do you remember that all your successes are due to God’s work in your life?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminders we have in Your Word handed down to us through Holy Scripture for our education and salvation. Help us remember your great mercy and give you thanks in all our successes and triumphs, as well as in all our trails and defeats. Let us not be led astray by a false pride in our own abilities and strength. Give us hearts and minds to give you thanks in all aspects of our life, so that you would always be glorified and your name lifted high. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Song: Give Thanks: Don Moen
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.