Blessed to love God's word, and have it at my fingertips, I am more blessed to have sisters committed to traveling with me, as I read the Bible cover to cover. Blogging Through the Bible is the overflow from this, where we take turns sharing our thoughts as we go. Angela has a wonderful online index of this endeavor at her home-blog No Longer Lukewarm, as does Tatiana at Musings of Mum. Stacey contributes at Telling Hearts and (previously Scribbles and Sustenance) and I contribute at Grandma Mary Martha, or Telling Hearts.
Would you join us in our studies? Now is my turn to address 1 Chronicles chapter 21 and 22.
1 Chronicles Chapter 21 and 22
Uh-oh Against God's Will
Chapter 21 opens with interesting news, and interesting background. Seemingly against advice, and against God's will, David ordered the men of Jerusalem to be counted. No reason is given, but it is clear that this displeases God.
Because the reason for it to be such a grievous mistake is not stated, and is not clear to me, I have to ponder the purpose.
Was it for pride?
Was it to console insecurity?
Apparently God did NOT see it as any kind of respectable logic.
So what was the outcome?
Rather tragic. David apologizes to God and God gives David a choice of three different punishment approaches. (Parents, that is an interesting discipline technique.)
David answers about his choices rather generally, more or less appealing to God's judgement and mercy:
1 Chronicles 21:13 (Tammy's paraphrase) "I am in such big trouble. Let me fall into Your hands to do as You choose, because You are merciful, but PLEASE do NOT let me fall into the hands of my men enemy."
Plague and Destruction
So God sends and plague upon Israel, and an angel to destroy it. Seventy thousand men died and then God called a cease to the punishment strikes. 1 Chronicles 21:15 "...enough! Withdraw your hand..." the Lord commanded to the angel sent to destroy.
Humility and Intercession
God allowed David to see some of this, (v.16) and he and the elders were moved to grief and humility. They fell facedown, in sackcloth, and then (v.17) David intercedes for Israel, begging God to turn the punishment to himself, rather than all of Israel.
Next, an angel tells Gad (the prophet) to tell David to build an altar to the Lord on the place where the angel was stopped, the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and David went about making that happen. He was prepared to offer Araunah a good price for his property but when Araunah learned the intent for that property he wanted to GIFT it. David would not allow that.
David built the altar, sacrificed there, and saw fire from Heaven come down on the altar to consume the sacrifice, but as we close chapter 21, David is in awe and afraid of the Lord. (v.29-30) He is afraid to go to the "high place at Gibeon."
David's Ambition for God
David has seen God's power and miracles. He has experienced His fury, and mercy. He understands that God is GOOD and God is Almighty. He desires to please and honor God. He wants to build a temple. So far, a tabernacle tent housed the Ark of the Covenant where the Lord is said to reside. David desires to build a magnificent building to house the precious religious artifacts.
Preparations and Commission
He actually began making RICH preparations of materials and resources, and goes to his son Solomon and passes the dream on to him. He tells Solomon that the Lord came to him and denied that he should build it himself, because he had "much blood," from many wars on his hands.
I really like verses 11-13 (from Bible Gateway) :
Chapter 22 closes with David urging the people to devote their hearts to God, and to build this temple.
David made a big blunder because his motives were off? How do you check your motives?
What is the reaction of many people when they think God is being harsh or unfair?
What is David's reaction, always, when the dust settles after being disciplined by God?
What is his aim in gathering of resources? Why does he want to do that?
Have you ever desired to do something for the Lord, perhaps planned and prepared for it, but rather than accomplishing yourself, you were able to encourage or cheer for someone else to complete your dream come true? If so, what was it?
Verse 11-13 are so beautiful to me. I think that passage could easily be adapted onto a graduation card. Would you like to write out a card message from that for someone special? What would it say?
Father, as I read the Old Testament, these precious pages that I have never read before, I am in awe of You. Your standards, Your expectations, Your determination to have a people that serve You and are true to You, Your enduring mercy, Your faithfulness. You could have "walked away," and decided it was not worth the trouble, but you did not. You sent us Jesus.
Like David offered to have the wrath turned directly on to himself, in order to spare others, JESUS laid His life down so that we could be forgiven, washed and righteous in His blood and perfect sacrifice.
Thank you. I thank you for forgiveness in Christ, and for my chance to get to know You and serve You. Thank you for preparing a place for us in Heaven. I pray for your will to be done on Earth, as in Heaven. In Jesus's name I pray, AMEN.