1 Chronicles 19:1–21:30
David genuinely offered condolences and wants to show kindness to the country of Ammon, as their king had passed.
1 Chronicles 19:2 (NKJV) “Then David said, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent messengers to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came to Hanun in the land of the people of Ammon to comfort him.”
But the princes of the people had a twisted heart (often times we are a suspicious people and perceive others to be the same way we are). The princes convinced their new king that these messengers of David were only sent to spy out the land in order to overthrow it…so they sent the men back in absolute shame.
Word is sent to David, who instructs the men to wait in Jericho until their beards grow back to return home, but David wastes no time in sending Joab out to fight the Ammonites (he would later join them). I’ve always loved Joab’s philosophy for fighting in:
1 Chronicles 19:12–13 (NKJV) “Then he said, ‘If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you shall help me; but if the people of Ammon are too strong for you, then I will help you. 13 Be of good courage, and let us be strong for our people and for the cities of our God. And may the LORD do what is good in His sight.’”
The Ammonites had hired the Syrians and it was looking to be a tough battle. Joab’s words are good words for us to take to heart. If what I’m going through is too tough for me, would you help me? And if what you’re facing seems to be too tough for you, I want you to know that I’ll do anything I can to help you. Let’s be strong with God’s strength, let’s fight for our families, our flock, and the future of our nation. The results are ultimately in God’s hands.
Thankfully the Lord gave Israel a great victory. He will do the same for us.
1 Chronicles 20:1 takes us back to the same time-frame as 2 Samuel 11:1. This is when David tragically fell into adultery with Bathsheba and then went on to murder her husband Uriah. We’re not sure why the Chronicler omitted this incident…but the story had already been told.
We do read of Israel’s victory over Rabbah. David arrived towards the end of that battle to claim a crown that weighed 75 pounds (a talent of gold). Warren Wiersbe said, “But all crowns are heavy, for it is not an easy thing to be a leader.”
Giants have a way of showing up, time and time again. Thank God David’s men had learned from their leader. We read in 1 Chronicles 20:4-8 of a variety of David’s soldiers slaying giants. By God’s grace, we too, as followers of Jesus, can slay “giants!” (defeat demons and move mountains)
This next series of events can be a bit confusing. According to 2 Samuel 24:1 the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, so we read that God moved David against them, to number the people. Here we read in 1 Chronicles 21:1, that 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 – 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) but the LORD showed mercy.
David was devastated by it all. We read his words:
1 Chronicles 21:17 (NKJV) “And David said to God, ‘Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O LORD my God, be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.’”
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.”
The prophet Gad communicates to David God’s command, to build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. Ornan 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:
1 Chronicles 21:24 (NKJV) “Then King David said to Ornan, ‘No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.’”
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 examine David’s life, Bible teachers note that his two most significant sins, 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 Ornan. 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.”
Have you blown it in life? Maybe even big time? Don’t lose heart. Return to the LORD and leave the consequences and hopefully crowns of grace up to Him.
To the Jews, circumcision was huge. This symbolized the fact that they had entered into a covenant with God. It was given to Abraham and passed down throughout their generations, symbolic also of the cutting away of the “flesh.” But now, it’s time for a new work of God, it’s a time of transition into the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31). Paul wants the Jews to know that circumcision is no longer required. Circumcision is only a physical (fleshly) act – God looks deeper. Paul writes in:
Romans 2:29a (NKJV) “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart…”
This was a tough one to let go of, religion always is. It’s okay to circumcise our sons for physical preferences, but the Jews needed to know that it no longer had any spiritual benefits.
Paul is on his way to establish the fact that all are guilty before God, both Jew and Gentile, that there’s no difference – but he also informs us that the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles in that they had the “oracles of God” (the Scriptures – Romans 3:2).
This may have created a question in their minds, “What if the Jews don’t believe? Does that lessen the faithfulness of God?” Paul answers with strength “Certainly not!”
Paul also addresses other accusations the people had – that our unrighteousness serves only to highlight God’s righteousness, so how could He punish us for that? Isn’t it unfair? Paul corrects them, “God IS entirely fair, if He weren’t, He wouldn’t be qualified to judge the world.”
But people got weird, even saying things like, “My dishonesty highlights God’s truthfulness,” or “The more we sin, the more we’re forgiven, so the better it is.” Paul says, “Absolutely not – and people who say such things deserve to be condemned!” We’ll see the same distorted perspective in Romans 5:20-6:1.
Don’t fly away like a bird – pray and trust the Lord. He’s testing us and working in our lives…but oh the fate of the non-believer! (Psalm 11:6)
As the righteous go through tough times, God is testing us. He’s purifying us. Even using the the violently unrepentant wicked for His purposes. But one day the non-believer will stand before God and be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
Psalm 11:6 (NKJV) “Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.”
Proverbs 10:10 (NKJV) “Luxury is not fitting for a fool, much less for a servant to rule over princes.”
We do believe in servant-leadership, but we don’t believe in foolish-servant-leadership. This is when a selfish, ruthless type of person rules, like Herod the so-called “great,” or Absalom.
How much better when you have a leader who understands that he’s been given that position of “authority” not to be served by the people, but to serve the people.
Mark 10:44–45 (NKJV) “And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Proverbs 10:11 (NKJV) “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.”
What a huge verse of infinite and practical value! Discretion makes him or her slow to anger…his GLORY (beauty/adornment) is to overlook (pass over) a transgression. That’s hard, but that’s glorious!
NLT, “…they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.”
The word overlook, means, “fail to notice; ignore or disregard.”
The dictionary defines discretion as, “The quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense.”
Proverbs 19:12 (NKJV) “The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.”
Of course you can apply this to human authorities…but it might be best to apply it to Jesus, the King of kings.
Have you found His favor by faith in Him? If not, I pray you’d find that favor, freedom, and forgivenenss today, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…” and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
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.