Sunday, December 27, 2015

2 Samuel 24

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Samuel 24. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • "Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel" (verse 1) - We don't know, because we aren't told, what time the "again" is referring to, or what God is angry about this time. We do know that God's anger is never capricious. And we know God is slow to anger and abounding in love (see, for instance, Numbers 14:18). So if God is angry, there is a very good reason.
  • "he incited David" (verse 1) - The Bible book of 1 Chronicles reports on the same exact incident but says that Satan inspired David to take the census. Later in this chapter we'll see that David was wrong in taking the census, and we know that God does not cause anyone to sin (James 1:13-15). But God does give people the freedom to do what they want, even if it's wrong, and does permit Satan to tempt us (for example, see Job 1:12 and 2:10). So when it says here that God incited David to take the census the idea is probably that God allowed Satan to tempt David to do it, and allowed David to do what he wanted to do.
  • The mere taking of a census wouldn't have been sinful, but there was something sinful about David doing it here. Perhaps it was an issue of pride, or maybe David was relying on human strength instead of God's...
  • Gad "the prophet, David's seer" (verse 11) - Gad was someone David turned to for prayer and godly advice and to help him hear from God.
  • All three "options" of judgments (verses 12-13) were included in a list Moses had given generations earlier of what the consequences might be for Israel violating the covenant they had made with God. So this should have been no surprise.
  • David knew (see verse 14) that even when God is angry, he is still more merciful than angry people.
  • It may seem like the people of Israel are suffering the consequences of David's decision (as in verse 17) we need to remember that the original reason God was angry was the actions of Israel (see verse 1).
  • Later, the "threshing floor of Araunah" (verse 16) would become the site where the great temple of Israel was built. Centuries later, Jesus would teach from the same spot.
  • The story we've been following in 2 Samuel will continue (from the place where 2 Samuel leaves off) in the next book of the Bible, 1 Kings. 
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • There are consequences for our actions. God is full of love and mercy, but still, when we sin, we suffer. The people of Israel had sinned, in this chapter David sins, and the result is that they suffer. That's the way life works.
  • In verse 24, David says, "I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing." God sacrificed for us, and we should sacrifice for Him. For instance, one reason people are reluctant to give financially to God is because they realize they won't have as much to spend on themselves, and might not be able to buy and do some things they typically do. But our offerings to God should cost us something.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where in your life have you suffered the consequences of sinful choices? It was probably very painful but the truth is that it was deserved. Let that lesson help you to not make sinful choices in the future because when we sin, we always suffer.
  • What sacrifices are you making for God? Where is your love and devotion to God costing you something? There are probably a variety of ways this should be true, and one is definitely in our finances. As we quickly approach a new year, why don't you pray about how much you should give to God through your church in 2016? Throughout the Bible God tells us that our first ten percent should go to Him. If you were to obey God, how much would that be? What is ten percent of your income? If you divide that number up into 52 weekly offerings, how much would you be giving per week? It would be a sacrifice, but that's OK, because it's supposed to be.
Here's a helpful video from a great resource called BibleProject that reviews and summarizes the book of 2 Samuel: