2 Samuel 24:1-17 – The Truth Requires No Justification; Only Sin Does!

Posted: September 11, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel
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2 Samuel 24:1-17
David Takes A Census

My wife and I have been in the process over the last couple of weeks of premarital counseling with a couple that has decided to do things God’s way. They have been living together not married and have decided now to honor God with their living arrangements. Prior to a few months ago, they had never really thought about their living together not married as being an issue. The reason that this couple is so special to us is that they are us 9 years ago. We see ourselves in them.

Nine years ago, I had been living in California for a year and a half. My temporary assignment at my company’s buy/resale division in Santa Clara, CA had now become a permanent assignment. I was sent out there from our main office in the Greenville, SC area to assist the division to get their accounting function straightened out. It was a mess and needed help. While I was out there, the controller decided to take a job outside the organization. Immediately, the division there offered me the job and I accepted. At that point, Elena had to decide whether to (1) break up with me or (2) move to California to be with me. Since Option #1 was not an option at all, she moved to California to be with me in August 2009. She got a transfer to her company’s location in Stockton, CA doing the same thing for her company that she had been doing at their location in Charlotte for many years. We found a town that was halfway in between Santa Clara and Stockton. It was Livermore, CA. We found a nice apartment complex there.

After several weeks of visiting other churches, we found one that fit us. It was Livermore Alive Community Church. We fell in love with this brand new church that was a church plant from its mother church in Fremont. We loved the pastor and his wife particularly. There was an instant connection there between the four of us. They were about 10 years younger than us but they were so engaging and their likes and dislikes were about the same as ours so the age difference didn’t matter. They became our spiritual mentors. Luke, the pastor, challenged me plenty and often about being more than “box on the shelf” Christian (a box that I pulled down on Sundays and played with and then put back up on the shelf afterwards). Felisha and Elena were like two peas in a pod. They had a soul connection. Felisha and Luke led my wife to the cross in their living room during life group. Luke pushed me beyond being the baby Christian that I had been since accepting Christ as my Savior eight years earlier. We got serious about being Christ followers while we under their care. We became aware and began to live the 24/7 Christian life. It was no longer church as a thing you do. It was now church and Jesus Christ being at the center of our lives. We saw being a Christ follower in a new holistic way that we had never known before.

Because of our deep involvement in every aspect of the small church, when Luke announced to the church that he “was looking for a few good men” to form the team of elders at the church, I jumped at the application process. I went through the application and elder test. Luke scheduled appointments for each of the men who applied. When it was my turn to have my interview with Luke, we met at his house alone. Felisha and the kids were gone. After a few general comments, you know the usual guy-talk between guys who love college football, he laid it on me square in the face. He said, “Although I think you are otherwise qualified to be an elder in our church, you will never be an elder in our church while you are living with a woman that you are not married to!” There it was. Plain and simple. There was a sin in my life that I was not calling a sin.

I tried to hem and haw around the subject but there was no disputing God’s Word and God’s expectations based on that. I had done the theological gymnastics in my mind as to why it was OK for ME to live with someone but not be married. I had this deal with God you know. I had been through so much with my previous marriages, I had rationalized it away that God would give me a pass on this one. Elena and I were committed to each other and we loved each other but the thought of marriage frightened us both. We had both been through two failed marriages already. We didn’t want another. We wanted our “out”, our emergency escape clause, if things did not work out between. We had rationalized it away. It was a deal between us and God, a special exemption for us, you know!

But plain and simple, what we were doing was a sin, and an obvious one at that. Luke exposed it to us and made us look at it. After some soul searching on our parts, we decided that we wanted to do things God’s way and not our own. We confessed our sin to the Lord and about a week after that meeting, Elena and I went over to Luke and Felisha’s house and told them that we wanted to get married the following Sunday, about 8 days away. We were willing to put our fears aside and trust Jesus with our relationship in the covenant of marriage. We were scared to death but we knew we had to trust the Lord with our future as a couple. The following Sunday during a sermons series called “Burning Questions” in which Luke was dissecting the biblical perspective on current hot button issues in society. This particular Sunday, the sermon was about sex God’s way. It was a sermon that celebrated sex but only as it relates to a marriage between a man and a woman. At the end of the sermon, Luke announced that there was a couple in our midst in the church that have decided to do things God’s way and get married instead of just living together. At that moment, we transitioned right into our wedding. It was an awesome way to illustrate in real life what Luke’s sermon was about.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read 2 Samuel 24:1-17. I thought of how David, blinded by pride, did something against God’s will and did not even realize or had rationalized away the sin. Let’s read the passage now:

Chapter 24
1 Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him.

2 So the king said to Joab and the commanders[a] of the army, “Take a census of all the tribes of Israel—from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south—so I may know how many people there are.”

3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God let you live to see a hundred times as many people as there are now! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this?”

4 But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and the commanders of the army went out to count the people of Israel. 5 First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer, 6 then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi[b] and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon. 7 Then they came to the fortress of Tyre, and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah[c] as far as Beersheba.

8 Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. 9 Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah.

10 But after he had taken the census, David’s conscience began to bother him. And he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt, Lord, for doing this foolish thing.”

11 The next morning the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, who was David’s seer. This was the message: 12 “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.’”

13 So Gad came to David and asked him, “Will you choose three[d] years of famine throughout your land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.”

14 “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”

15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days.[e] A total of 70,000 people died throughout the nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. 16 But as the angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” At that moment the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 When David saw the angel, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family.”

Here, David took a census of his people simply cause he could. It was a pride thing. He wanted to know how big his kingdom was and how many able bodied soldiers he could muster up if needed. It was purely vanity nothing else. He either did not recognize it as a sin or had rationalized away why it was not. He was OK with it until his prophet called him out on it. The one thing about David is that, even if he had been blinded by pride which caused him to sin and not recognize it here and in the past, when confronted with his sins, he was quick to repent. When called out, he went to the Lord and confessed. That’s the key thing here in this passage and in my illustration.

We must examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word. It is eternally true no matter what. It does not change. There are no special deals for you and me. There is just His truth and our behavior in comparison to it. Simple as that. We can play all the theological gymnastics that we can muster to come to the convoluted conclusion that, though the Bible says what we are doing is a sin, it is OK for us. However, when we have to go through extended exercises to justify why our sin is no longer a sin in God’s eyes, then that ought to be an indication to us that we are in opposition to God’s Word. For example, just think of the amount of time and press (commercials, shows, news reports) and legal wrangling (and reams and reams of paper) that floods us about sexual orientations other than the God-ordained marriage of a man to a woman. On the flip side, a marriage of a man and a woman requires no justification, no theological gymnastics. It is God-ordained. The truth requires no justification. Only sin does.

That’s why I am so proud of this couple that is going to do what we did. They were confronted with their sin. They confessed it. They will be married in just another day. They are us. We were confronted with our sin. We confessed it. We got married. No more theological gymnastics. Just living in God’s truth. The truth of God is timeless, ageless, and eternal. It will never change no matter how you wrap your argument that you sin is OK. The truth requires no justification. Only sin does.

Amen and Amen.

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