1 Chronicles 21:7-17 – Consequences Are There Even After Forgiveness

Posted: May 13, 2020 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 21:7-17

Judgment for David’s Sin

It is funny how time allows you to analyze your past actions so that you can learn from them but for all the analysis you cannot change what has already happened. At the time, the actions seem so right and so justified and be damned with the consequences. Sin is about selfishness and pride so acts of sin get justified in that light. I deserve this because this person did this to me or this circumstance happened to me. There’s an old saying, “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.”

In my past, there were things that my first wife did to me to kill my feelings for her and forever forged our course toward an ugly divorce. Her actions that caused us to head that way were sins for her and the consequences forever changed my desire to continue the marriage. Her equally sinful actions during the course of our ugly divorce were equally sinful for her in the sight of God. All the things that she did to me during the course of our marriage were my justifications for the sins that I committed. Retributional sins don’t count against us, right? I had a right to be happy, right? I didn’t have to put up with this #@$%, right? It was OK for me to commit sins as retribution and a search for happiness amidst the consequences of her sins, right? Notice all the “I” personal pronouns in everything that I just said.

The ripple effects of my own sins led to a second marriage where God was not at the center of that relationship either and it had its own set of problems. What seemed so perfect when I was dreaming of being with the woman who would become my second wife was never realistic. The reality did not match the dream. Your kids vs. my kids, a vindictive ex-wife, a second wife who wanted my past not to be any part of my present, and my desperate need for approval all conspired to make what was the perfect dream in my mind into a nightmare of equal proportions to the first marriage that left me disillusioned, alone, and defeated. Sin has its consequences. Oh yes!

It is only through seeking forgiveness from God and no longer justifying why you did something is when you gain perspective. It is when you can look back at the mistakes you made and usefully use them is when you have proper perspective. One way is, of course, to not make the same mistakes again. Another way is to “turn your mess into your message”. Elena and I, both of us having come from failed marriages in our respective pasts, now use our mess in our past to fuel a passion for making sure that people get married and stay married for the right reasons. We do pre-marital and marital counseling when the opportunities present themselves. Our advice comes as much from our own personal experience as it does from the recommendations in the material we use. We know all the ripple effects that sins of our own and the sins of others have had on our lives. We sure don’t want to see people go through that same thing in their future marriages that we went through in our previous ones. We try to get people to learn from our mistakes and our sins so that they will enter into their marriages doing it God’s way and not their own way. In this way, sin is not only forgiven but it is also redeemed.

It was that idea of the ripple effects of sin that came to mind when I read this passage about the results of David’s sin of pride (in taking the census). Let’s read the passage, 1 Chronicles 21:7-17, now:

7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.

8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

9 The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”

11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of being swept away[a] before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

14 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the Lord saw it and relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah[b] the Jebusite.

16 David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown.

17 David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd,[c] have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Lord my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”

In this passage, we see that sin has a domino effect. Once a sin is committed, a series of consequences follows. God will forgive our sin if we ask Him. However, the consequences of the sin committed have already been set in motion. David pleaded for mercy and God responded by stopping the angel before his mission was complete. The consequences of David’s sin, though, had already caused severe damage. God will always forgive our sins and will often intervene to make the consequences less severe, but there will always be damage and scars. Thinking through the possible consequences of our actions before we undertake them can stop us and thus save us much sorrow and suffering.

The consequences of sin cannot be undone. Even though God forgives us for having committed sins, he doesn’t turn back the clock and rewrite the past for us. We must deal with consequences even after forgiveness. My life still has latent impacts that result from my sins of the past, even all these years later. The key is to own that fact and not blame it on someone else. Then, you can grow in Christ by learning from the past and not repeating the same stupid mistakes and sins again. As well, you can help others, less mature in Christ, to avoid the same mistakes you made with real life lessons to impart to them. Not some textbook example but real life from your life with all its emotional reality and baggage.

Like David, we must recognize our sins and not blame other people for them. We must own them and seek forgiveness from the Lord. We must then use these mistakes as fuel for the future to make sure that we don’t make the same ones again and to ensure that others do not either. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it (and a whole lot more than you ever bargained for!).

Amen and Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s