God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 23 - 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30: David's Census Gone Bad; Preparations for the Temple

Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 24; 1 Chronicles 21-22; Psalm 30

The Message

English Standard Version

After a month of skipping around between three books, you have finished 2 Samuel! That makes 11 books read. Only 55 to go.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Consider how David responds when he sees God's punishment.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

David wanted a census of fighting men. Joab and his officials obeyed under protest.
God, angered by David, spoke through Gad and forced David to choose his punishment: three years of famine, three months of fleeing before his enemies, or three days of an epidemic. David chose the epidemic. Seventy thousand people died. God protected Jerusalem. David cried out in repentance.
God's angel told David to build an altar at Araunah's threshing floor. David insisted on buying it when Araunah offered it for free.
In order to facilitate Solomon's building of the temple, David collected all of the raw materials.

Psalm (P)Synopsis

Psalm 30

David gives God credit for getting him through his mess. David called out and warned God that he would be very difficult to sell if destroyed first. So God saved David and because of it he cannot stop thanking God.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

David wanted a census because he wants to know his strength apart from God.

This section is difficult to read for several reasons, the first being that David is punished for doing something God required Israel to do twice. Why would God punish David for doing a census? The reason is simple—God wanted Israel to realize God alone could protect Israel from their enemies whereas David's census was intended to help him see what king(s) he could defeat apart from God's help. Joab understood this when he told David,
May your God multiply people by the hundreds right before the eyes of my master the king, but why on earth would you do a thing like this? 2 Samuel 24:3, The Message
This is why David is punished—he thought he could do everything alone.
Today, we should caution against participating in church censuses or discussing church sizes. **Note: State censuses are different than church censuses.** A census automatically puts people in the mindset of "look what we built" or "look what is falling apart—what can we do to save it." Discussing church sizes is widely known among pastors and preachers as a topic of much consternation and anxiety. If our goal is to have God grow a community through which he can set all things right, censuses and church sizes are tangential at best and counterproductive at worst. You didn't build that! Don't do a census! (Or spend time looking at blog statistics.) If people see God setting things right through you, they will want to join and God will bring them to you.

The people of Israel are punished because David sinned.

I believe this is why David cries when he sees the angel of God outside the city. He realizes his people have been punished because of his sin and his unwillingness to run from his enemies. When God's Chosen Leaders sin, the people perish.
At the same time, this episode shows David's love for his people. I love his prayer to God,
Please! I’m the one who sinned; I’m the one at fault. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me, not them, me and my family; don’t take it out on them. (1 Chronicles 21:17, The Message)
Leaders, love your people enough to ask God to punish you instead.

David wants to set things right by sacrificing to God—not going through the motions of an offering.

Araunah understands what is going on and trusts that David's offering would set things right. To facilitate it and honor David, Araunah wants to give him everything. However, David understands that blood is not what God wants. God wants our sacrifices to show our humility before Him. David could not offer a free sacrifice on free wood set on an altar erected on free ground. He had to pay for all of it—not even at a discount.

David finishes well.

In leadership studies, "finishing well" means that you not only finish your own work strong but you set your predecessor up to succeed. David does just this when he arranges to have all of the materials to make the Temple quarried and set aside for his son. Leaders, set your predecessors up to succeed. Challenge everyone to follow their lead.

God gets angry once in a while, but across / a lifetime there is only love (Psalm 30:5).

What an interesting way of putting it. God does get angry from time to time but even his anger is couched in love. God gets angry because He loves us and does not want to see us punished!

Has God turned your mourning into dancing?

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