With the rebellion of Absalom, David’s son, now behind him, the kingdom of Israel was brought back to relative peace. All the tribes of Israel have recommitted themselves again to David for him to be their king.
However, it isn’t long before trouble springs up again.
- 1 Chronicles 21:1
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
- David wanted to take a census of the nation. Normally a census it taken to know the details of each household. How many males, how many females? What are the ages of everyone? Details of every person living in the country?
But what was the purpose for David to number the whole of Israel?
- 2 Samuel 24:9
And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
- When Joab came back, the report that he gave to David was focused on a particular number. It was focused on the number of people that were in the army, those that could fight.
- Now we know that this was bad because of the text that we read earlier. It was Satan who was pushing David to do this. He was putting the wrong thoughts into the mind of David.
- What prompted David was pride and ambition. It was not the thoughts of God at all.
- He wanted to know how big his army was. He was focusing on the size of his military might rather than the mighty hand of God.
- God has, and can, work by many and by few. We have seen this with Gideon and his army of 300 men.
- It was not necessary for David to focus on numbering the army. What he needed to focus on was the faithfulness of the people in the nation.
- With the focus on numbering the people, it would also make the surrounding nations to believe that the might of Israel was in the people and not in the power of God.
However, God had sent warning before David went ahead.
- 1 Chronicles 21:3
And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
- Joab was the leader of the armies. And even though he himself had not been perfect, his appeal to the king was from God.
- But David was stubborn this time in his desire to number the people.
- 1 Chronicles 21:4
Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
- So David’s order was carried out.
However, the whole process was not yet finished when David was convicted of his sin.
- 2 Samuel 24:10
And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
- God had convicted him that what he had done was wrong. But it was too late. The next morning God would send the prophet Gad.
- 1 Chronicles 21:9-12
9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee 12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
- Three options:
- First was three years of famine.
- Second was three months to be destroyed by the enemies of God.
- And the last was three days of pestilence from God.
Ultimately, what option did David choose?
- 1 Chronicles 21:13
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.
- David chose the third option. He was appealing for God to be merciful.
- As a result, pestilence would come upon the land.
- 1 Chronicles 21:14
So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
- Seventy thousand people would perish in the pestilence.
- 1 Chronicles 21:15-17
15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
- David and the elders were clothed in sackcloth. He was repentant for the foolish decision that he had made. But though he was repentant, it didn’t change the outcome. He still paid for his sin and others paid for it as well.
- We must do well to remember that our own actions often affect others. We don’t just live to ourselves.
- David was king. He paid the price for it, but so did others. It seems like it isn’t fair. But we have enough faith in God that in His infinite wisdom He knew whose time of probation had now come to an end.
- But let that be a reminder to us who are leaders in our own right. Whether it be leader of the home, leader of a team, leader in the church. Whatever capacity God has put us in lead, the decisions that we make will affect those under us as well.
David being clothed in sackcloth and seeking for repentance was not enough though. What did God now instruct him to do?
- 1 Chronicles 21:18, 26-27
18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. 26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering. 27 And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.
- David was instructed to set up an altar where the angel had stood and ceased from destroying the lives of others.
- To seek for forgiveness is often only one part of our repentance process. To fully repent, it often requires action in coming back to God, in worship back to Him, a change in our actions which would be evidence that a change in our heart has taken place. Such was the case with David.
However, we are not yet done. There would arise one more issue that would disturb David’s peace as his life drew to a close.
- 1 Kings 1:5-6
5 Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. 6 And his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so? and he also was a very goodly man; and his mother bare him after Absalom.
- Adonijah would arise to try to take the throne.
- Who is Adonijah and what do we know about him?
- He was the brother to Absalom who had just recently tried to be king as well. Obviously, this rebellion ran in the blood.
- He was also a very good-looking young man just like his brother.
- And he also was very much a spoilt child as his father had never said no to him growing up. Needless to say, king David was not a very good father.
- But now Adonijah was not just rebelling against his father, king David, but he was going against the express will of God.
- 1 Chronicles 22:9
Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days.
- It was very clear that God had ordained Solomon to be the next king already.
- We must be careful that in our ambitions, whether in work or in church, we are not going against the will of God.
Adonijah was not alone in this work of rebellion.
- 1 Kings 1:7
And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest: and they following Adonijah helped him.
- Joab was the leader of the armies of Israel and Abiathar was the high priest.
- Both had been with David from the beginning and had been faithful to him. But now, for some reason, they had defected over to rebel against him alongside Adonijah.
However, not all were on board with this insidious plan.
- 1 Kings 1:8
But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.
- Zadok was not the high priest, but he was faithful to David even when Absalom had rebelled against his father and tried to kill him.
- Benaiah was not the leader of the armies as that was Joab’s position, but he did hold a leadership position in the army.
- 2 Samuel 20:23
Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites.
- 2 Samuel 20:23
- And finally, Nathan the prophet stood also on the side of David.
- They would come in to David to tell him of the rebellion of Adonijah.
- How would David react?
- 1 Kings 1:28-25
28 Then king David answered and said, Call me Bathsheba. And she came into the king’s presence, and stood before the king. 29 And the king sware, and said, As the LORD liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, 30 Even as I sware unto thee by the LORD God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day. 31 Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth, and did reverence to the king, and said, Let my lord king David live for ever. 32 And king David said, Call me Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada. And they came before the king. 33 The king also said unto them, Take with you the servants of your lord, and cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule, and bring him down to Gihon: 34 And let Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him there king over Israel: and blow ye with the trumpet, and say, God save king Solomon. 35 Then ye shall come up after him, that he may come and sit upon my throne; for he shall be king in my stead: and I have appointed him to be ruler over Israel and over Judah.
- David would move with haste to appoint Solomon as the next king in David’s stead.
- As a result, the rebellion would be quickly halted in its tracks. Those that supported Adonijah at the beginning quickly disbanded and went their ways.
- However, the principal people involved would not be overlooked but would eventually suffer the penalties of their crimes.
- Adonijah would be slain after the death of David (1 Kings 2:24-25)
- Joab would also be killed after David dies (1 Kings 2:28-34).
- And Abiathar the priest would be removed from being the high priest and the priesthood would be taken from him and his family (1 Kings 2:26-27).
- The death of Adonijah was the final fulfillment of David paying for his sin with Bathsheba when he pronounced a fourfold judgment in reply to the prophet Nathan’s parable against him.
Finally, the kingship was handed over to Solomon, the son of Bathsheba. The one whom God Himself had ordained to be the next king.
- But David would be careful to give exhortation to the Israelites and also to his son before he passed away.
- 1 Chronicles 28:1, 8
1 And David assembled all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem. 8 Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever.
- David first exhorts all the leaders to be faithful. To keep and seek the commandments of the Lord. He warned them clearly and carefully that the prosperity of the nation, their land, and the inheritance for their children rested on their faithfulness to observe to do all the commandments of God.
- He would give the same warning to his son as well.
- 1 Chronicles 28:9
And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
- David knew too well by his own experience what happens when you stray from the commandments of the Lord.
- He had paid four times over for his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba.
- He had paid for being a neglectful father with the rebellion of Absalom and Adonijah, his two sons.
- He had paid for the sin of counting the whole of Israel when God had told him not to.
- He knew too well what the fruit of transgression was. And so he warned the leaders of Israel and his own son, who was about to step into his position as king, to be faithful to all that the Lord had commanded them. For therein lied the secret to true success.
David also gave clear command to Solomon to follow through with one other thing as well.
- 1 Chronicles 28:10
Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.
- God had not allowed David to build the temple. And so he gathered as much resources as he could before he died so that Solomon, his son, could erect it. He had all the plans drawn up and laid up. He sourced all the workmen, the builders, the carpenters, those that worked with stone.
- He wanted it to be an easy process for Solomon.
David also gave one last appeal for people to give to the building of the sanctuary. And how did they respond?
- 1 Chronicles 29:6-9
6 Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king’s work, offered willingly, 7 And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. 8 And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.
- Everyone came and offered willingly. They were offering it to the Lord, and not man. They were not doing this for the sake of king David or even Solomon. But they offered it willingly to the Lord.
- It was love for God that burned in their heart that moved them to bring their precious offerings for the temple. It was all for God.
- If His love had not moved on their hearts, the kings appeal would have been in vain and the temple would never have been erected.
- Similarly, if God’s love is truly dwelling in our hearts, we would desire to give him the best of our time, the best of our resources, the best of our intellect. We would be more than willing to give Him the best of all that we have and all that we are.
Some might wonder why the sins of David were so clearly outlined. Why the sins of many people have been so well documented in the Bible.
Yes, David was called a man after God’s own heart. But that did not mean that he never sinned. It also didn’t show that God was playing favourites. God was not simply and blindly holding up to a promise. But there were conditions for those promises to be fulfilled. With the deepness of David sin, soon after there was a deep repentance also, an abhorrence for what he had done.
David was not a perfect man. But where he fell, he always ran back to God in humiliation and full repentance. Saul also sinned, but the people that God sent to rebuke him and correct him only made his heart harder eventually to the point that he could not be reasoned with anymore. But such was NOT the case with David. He was always ready to humble himself. Ready to repent. Seeking to be right with God when his sins were pointed out. His heart was soft and pliable. It wasn’t full of pride and power and ambition. He understood that God had placed him in this position and He could just as easily remove him from being king as well.
And so let us always remember to humble ourselves no matter the position that we are in, no matter the successes that God has given to us. Let us pray to have a heart like David’s. Not only was David a man after God’s own heart. But God was also sought after in David’s heart. That even though he had been elevated to such height that few would ever see or experience, David never forgot God. And when he did fall, deeper still was his repentance as well.