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David Series - God’s Mercy; God’s Consequence

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NORTHEAST HOUSTON COMMUNITY CHURCH

Sermon – God’s Mercy; God’s Consequence

Scripture –     2 Sam 24:1-17

7-20-08

 

2 Sam 24:1-17

24 Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah."    2 So the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, "Now go throughout all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the number of the people." 3 And Joab said to the king, "Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?" 4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army. Therefore Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel. 5 And they crossed over the Jordan and camped in Aroer, on the right side of the town which is in the midst of the ravine of Gad, and toward Jazer. 6 Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi; they came to Dan Jaan and around to Sidon; 7 and they came to the stronghold of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went out to South Judah as far as Beersheba. 8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 Then Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to the king. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. 10 And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly." 11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, 12 "Go and tell David, 'Thus says the Lord: "I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you."'" 13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, "Shall seven* years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me." 14 And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man." 15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died. 16 And when the angel* stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, "It is enough; now restrain your hand." And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah* the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, "Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father's house." NKJV

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A Summary of events up to this point:

Chapter 19      God allows David to return to Jerusalem. He shows mercy to Shimei and to Ziba. He repays Barzillai for his kindness in supplying him and his men.

Chapter 20      A man by the name of Sheba rebels against David and is quickly destroyed.

Chapter 21      There was a famine for three straight years. After inquiring of God; David acted to rectify the cause for God allowing the famine.

Chapter 20:15 David fought against the philistines and their four giants and they had victory.

Chapter 22 and 23 record David’s praises to God for deliverance, protection, admiration and goodness even after all he has been through. (See Ps 18)

Chapter 23:8-38 Records the heroic feats of David’s mighty men who surrounded him.

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Things are beginning to go well for David. That is the time we should be most on our guard. We can remember that it was when all seemed to be going well with David that he fell into sin with Bathsheba.

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David is now what we would call an old man coming to the end of his years. Israel was prospering under his kingship. Life was good and going well.  We come to chapter 2. Sometimes the very blessings of God can be that which causes us to sin against God or become a higher priority than God.

V24:1 Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah."     

I must spend a few moments on this first verse.

1.      The Lord’s anger was aroused against Israel. “AGAIN” (ref Chapter 21), earlier God was angry with Israel for their mistreatment against the Gibeonites. These people were under the protection of Israel going back to Joshua. I don’t know why He was angry again at this time and the scriptures do not tell us why. For God to be angry with a whole nation I can only surmise that there must have been a climate of sin among the people. They were at this time experiencing prosperity and prosperity will also breed arrogance, pride and contempt.

2.      …and He moved David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah. Now we know that the act of numbering the people, David later admitting to being a sin. But the bigger question is, “did God cause David to sin and then later punish him for it?’

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I cannot believe God would do that to a man after His own heart. Let us study this a little. David is tempted to sin. Two quick points.

1.      God tempts no one.

James 1:13-15    13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. NKJV

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2.      Who is the “Tempter?”  (Matt 4:3) (1Thess 3:5)

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If we look in the book of the chronicles we will read.

1 Chron 21:1-2 Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.

This is not a contradiction but more like a transcription or translation error.

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V3…But why does my lord the king desire this thing?" 4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army.

Joab, the commander of the king’s army and the captains tried to caution David against this but I believe it was pride, an effective tool of Satan that spurred David on.

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Of the six things God hates (Prov 6:16), pride is listed first. In proverbs pride or proud is mentioned 14 times and never in a positive light. A big problem with pride is that people don’t always know that they are being prideful.  One of the negative side effects is that a person caught up in pride will very seldom listen to advice from others as was the case here with David. They usually listen to only their own council. In obedience to the kings command the people were numbered.

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After the census was taken David’s heart condemned him

10 And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly."

 

You have often heard me say that I do not have to tell you everything you do wrong because you already know right from wrong and your conscience tells you.

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The scriptures do not explicitly tell us the extent of David’s wrong but David knew and God knew. I do believe that every sin or wrong we do and are chastised for is not made public. That should be a caution to us not to be the judge of another person’s hard times. More times than not, it is between the individual and God. A perfect example is what happened to Job. His hard time was for righteousness not for wrong doing.

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11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, 12 "Go and tell David, 'Thus says the Lord: "I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you."'"

I have said over and over again that we may be forgiven of our sins but may still have to suffer the consequences of them. Here is another example in the life of David. In V10 David asked God for forgiveness and I believe God forgave David but Sin must be paid for. We can sin and claim 1 John 1:9 all we want forgiveness may come but so may the consequences. This verse has been one of the most misapplied by Christians in the Bible. It is often presented that if we sin we can confess that sin that God in His faithfulness will forgive us and all will be well as it was.

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This verse refers to the application God’s grace. God has enough grace to cover any and any amount of sin.    

Rom 5:20-21   20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, NKJV

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The Law was a task master and pointed out what sin was. But, if the sacrifice was made then God’s grace would cover/forgive that sin. Some thought that grace was so great that they should sin more in order to receive more grace. Paul gives and emphatic answer.

Rom 6:1-2       What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! NKJV

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I believe that same wrong attitude is applied to 1 John 1:9 by some.  The thinking being, “don’t worry if you sin, you can always claim 1John 1:9.  I tell you, that is a dangerous way to live. God may grant grace and mercy but consequences may still remain.

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God did not have to but He gave David a choice of punishment.

1.      "Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land?  - (hand of God)

2.      Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you?  (hand of Man)

3.      Or shall there be three days' plague in your land? (hand of God)

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14 And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man."

David knew that God is a merciful God. Remember how he prayed and fasted for his dying child in hopes that God would be merciful and let the child live.   

2 Sam 12:22    22 And he said, "While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, 'Who can tell whether the Lord* will be gracious to me, that the child may live?' NKJV

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He knew he could not expect any mercy from his enemies. It is better for a Christian to fall under the chastising hand of God rather than the hand of man.     

Heb 12:5-6      "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."*  NKJV

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Even in this chastening we see the love of God demonstrated. David said not by the hand of man so that eliminated being chases by his enemies for three years. Of the two remaining the choice was left to God and God chose the shorter of the two. It humbles me so much to know that God does not delight in punishing us, but He is a just God and He hates sin. Sin must be paid for.

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15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died. 16 And when the angel* stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction…

 

Definition - Relented - to become less severe, harsh, or strict.

God could have done more but through His mercies He relented. The full measure of God’s punishment was halted because of His grace and mercy.

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I know I have not gotten the full punishment I deserved for many of the things I have done and I know I owe it to God’s mercies. How can I not serve Him, how can I not obey Him, How can I not praise Him and how can I not worship Him.

It is only God that can determine what sin is, it is only God that Can forgive sin and it only the death of Jesus that God has determine to be the payment of the sins of those that have received Jesus Christ His son as their savior.

Remember the forgiveness of our sins does not always mean the elimination of the consequences of our sins.

We see that the action of the head of the people caused the people to suffer. I believe that the same hold true with the heads of government, of corporation and of the household. I have accepted the responsibility that what I do be it good or bad will have a direct affect on the well-being of my family.

If time permits

2 Sam 24:24    24 But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing." NIV

END


 

RESPONSIVE READING    

Rom 6:1-14

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