June 5

2 Samuel 23:24–24:25

The list of the names of David’s “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:8) continues. Out of all the thousands of soldiers, these were the guys that stood out, the elite. I always sigh with sadness when I see that Uriah was a part of this list, and yet David slept with his wife, had him murdered, and then married Bathsheba.

This next series of events can be a bit confusing. The anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, so we read that God moved David against them, to  number the people (2 Samuel 24:1). To make matters even more complicated, when this event is recorded in 1 Chronicles 21:1, the Bible says it was Satan who moved David to number the people.

I found the following explanation to be helpful, “Both statements are true. Although it was Satan who immediately incited David, ultimately it was God who permitted Satan to carry out this provocation. Although it was Satan’s design to destroy David and the people of God, it was God’s purpose to humble David and the people and teach them a valuable spiritual lesson. This situation is quite similar to the first two chapters of Job in which both God and Satan are involved in the suffering of Job. Similarly, both God and Satan are involved in the crucifixion. Satan’s purpose was to destroy the Son of God (John 13:2; 1 Cor 2:8). God’s purpose was to redeem humankind by the death of His Son (Acts 2:14-39).” – Thomas Howe; Norman L. Geisler, Big Book of Bible Difficulties

David should have never numbered the people, and neither should we. May we simply trust God who can save by many or few (1 Samuel 14:6). 

After he received the results from Joab, David was convicted. His confession may have helped, but it was too late to avoid the consequences. God sent the prophet Gad to David with options on how Israel would be disciplined. David chose the shorter sentence, and the one that left them ONLY in the hands of the Lord. A plague hit the land and 70,000 men of the people died (David’s army just shrank)! It is also possible that the total tally did not include women and children. The angel was just about to destroy Jerusalem (imagine that) and the LORD showed mercy.

David was devastated by it all. We read his words:

2 Samuel 24:17 (NKJV) “Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, ‘Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.’”

David should have thought about that BEFORE he numbered the people.  It may sound harsh, but one sinner can affect an entire church or nation (Joshua 7; 1 Corinthians 5:6). Solomon would later write in:

Ecclesiastes 9:18 (NKJV) “Wisdom is better than weapons of war; but one sinner destroys much good.”

Again the prophet Gad communicates to David God’s command, to build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah.  Araunah was willing to grant the property to David, but the king insisted on paying full price. Sometimes we do all that we can to give the least possible to God, but David teaches us on this:

2 Samuel 24:24 (NKJV) “Then the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.”

It’s been said that, “Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.” I need to always search my heart, not regarding salvation, for that’s free, and ministry is truly, all about grace. But have I been giving to God the leftovers, or worse, the “hand- me downs?” Or have I been paying the price to give to God obediently, sacrificially, and honorably?

As we begin to close in on the end of David’s life as recorded in 2 Samuel, Bible teachers note that the two most significant sins in David’s life, were covered with so much grace, that they were transformed into two of the most epic blessings to Israel. The first was Solomon, who was born of Bathsheba. The second is the Temple that would be built on this site – this piece of property David bought from Araunah. Such grace reminds me of what we read in:

Romans 5:20 (NKJV) “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”

Acts 3:1-26

First of all, I’m blessed to see the brothers heading out to the Temple to pray – it was the hour of prayer, 3 PM.

I can relate to Peter in one sense, “Silver and gold, I do not have…” but I can’t relate to him on another level. I wish I had the faith of Peter, to heal the lame man, even to be used as an instrument to heal any man. “O Father, please work this work in our hearts.”

When the healed man started walking, leaping, and praising God, the people saw the miracle and started looking at Peter and John thinking they were something special. Peter corrects them.

Acts 3:12 (NKJV) “So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?’

Acts 3:16 (NKJV) “And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

It’s not our power, and it’s not our godliness; it’s pure and simple childlike faith in Jesus that brings healing to people. I’m gripped by the truth that I’ll never be worthy, and I’ll never be able when it comes to ministry, it’s not us, it’s Him…and we’re so grateful to God for that.

Peter goes on to seize the opportunity to preach Jesus to those who were present. Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies – the Christ was called to suffer, He was the Prophet Moses spoke about, hear Him or die! He was the descendant spoken of in the promise to Abraham, that through him the whole world would be blessed (Isaiah 53; Deuteronomy 18; Genesis 12). There are over 300 Old Testament prophecies regarding Jesus’s first coming, how could they not believe?

One of my favorite passages is:

Acts 3:19 (NKJV) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Wiersbe said something interesting in this section, “Reach out to the individual (Acts 3:7) and God will give you opportunities for a bigger harvest (see also John 4:28 and forward). Peter and John were not so caught up with large crowds that they had no time for individuals. Nor were they so busy in ministry that they could not pray. They had learned their lessons well from the Lord Jesus (Mark 1:35; Luke 8:40).”

Amen! Such important lessons.

Psalm 123:1-4

The Songs of Ascents continue.

We all need mercy…so we look to the Lord (at least we should). We lift our eyes to Him, we lift our voices to Him, we lift our hearts to Him. Whether we find ourselves in the middle of a “trying” trial, in the deepest valley, or on top of the mountain, we look to the Lord and trust Him to do what He does and to have His way.

The Psalmist speaks in v. 4 of being mocked and mistreated; and we do know that Israel has gone through some very hard times throughout the ages. 

If only we’d look to the Lord (and nowhere else) until He has mercy on us. We are to glance at other things, but gaze on God. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus!

Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

If we look to Jesus, we will see His love demonstrated on the cross, and we will see the way He finished His “race.” He’s the one who put us in the race and He will help us finish ours.

Proverbs 16:21-23

V. 21, 23 – These two verses remind us of the connection between the heart and the lips (Luke 6:45). If my heart is right, I will hear it in my words. If my heart is bad, it will be exposed in my words. If my heart is right, I will be wise and prudent (caring for the future) and my words will touch and teach lives.

V. 22 – Imagine the benefit of a well, or a wellspring in those days! It would be a close and convenient source for water (an inexpressible benefit in life). This is the person who has Godly wisdom and understanding. But the fool has no such wellspring. As a matter of fact, the fool refuses to learn and turn, even though He is corrected by God, (verbally and circumstantially) he doesn’t take it to heart.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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