Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah…” But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” Samuel 24:1,10
Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. 1 Chronicles 21:1
I am very grateful for the verses listed above. I know. I know. You’re probably thinking “Bo, you’ve lost it!” Stick with me for just a bit while I explain my case.
There appears to be a contradiction between these two passages, but there really is no contradiction. The first passage says that God incited David to take a census of the people. The second one states that Satan moved David to number Israel. This is a major contradiction, right?
Just like in the book of Job, God allowed Satan to tempt Job, and Job still believed that God was ultimately in control of everything that happened to him (see Job 1). Here, God in His anger against Israel allowed Satan to tempt David (as a chastisement) to number Israel. When the people of God turn away from the will of God, God removes His hand of protection against Satan and allows him to wreak havoc over God’s people.
It worked, but the hope is in David’s response (v.10)—“David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
Here is David near the end of his life and reign as king. He is still making poor choices. He is still sinning against the God that he once danced before with such joy that he danced out of his clothes (see 2 Samuel 6:20-22)! David, at the tail end of his life, is still inconsistent, still in need of repentance, still in need of God’s forgiveness.
And David still has the heart and the audacity to ask God to forgive him, after he had sinned so grievously at the end of his life!
Shouldn’t he have known better? Shouldn’t he have finally come to the place where he learned not to harden his heart against God? (Shouldn’t we know better?)
David was a great sinner, but he was an even greater repenter. His heart cut him down (continued to cut him down even in his old age), and he continued to ask for forgiveness. He didn’t hide his sin. He brought it to the only One who could forgive him.
David was such a world-class repenter that Acts 13:22 referred to him as a man after God’s own heart. “(God) raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’”
David is also mentioned in the Hall of Faith chapter, Hebrews 11:32.
Do you see now why I am grateful for these verses? I am grateful for them and for the life of David, a true man of God presented to us “warts and all.” David’s life brings me such great hope because I, too, am a great sinner, and I need forgiveness. I am grateful because not only am I a great sinner in need of forgiveness, but Christ is a great Savior willing to forgive anyone who asks Him for forgiveness!
You think your sin is too great to be forgiven? Have you ever had a man put to death after committing adultery with his wife (2 Sam.11)? God forgave David of that terrible sin, too and turned that bad situation around to be a blessing. Only God could do that!
This Thanksgiving, give thanks to the God who is not surprised by your sin and who loves you anyway in spite of your sin. Give thanks to Him for being such a glorious God that He can bring forth beauty out of the ash heaps we have created!