TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- 1 CHRONICLES 19:1-21:30
We are revisiting incidents that we read about previously in 2 Samuel 10:1-19, 2 Samuel 12:26-31, and 2 Samuel 24. The writer of Chronicles emphasizes the positive details in David’s story. This is because the writer is looking forward to the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. A king is coming who, like David, will be motivated by kindness (See David’s intent to deal kindly with Hanun- 1 Chronicles 19:2) and will be honored as the King of kings, gaining the allegiance and the crowns of other monarchs (1 Chronicles 20:2). In the New Testament, we see how Jesus fulfills this expectation (Revelation 19:11-13).
Nothing is mentioned in this Chronicler’s account of David’s tragic sins of adultery, murder, and the deceitful cover-up following his illicit relationship with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. All we read about the incident in Chronicles is found in the sentence, “but David remained in Jerusalem” (1 Chronicles 20:1). The insertion of the full story as recorded in 2 Samuel would not have served the writer’s purpose, which is to look back on David’s reign and see the qualities that would be reflected to a greater degree by the promised greater David, the Son of David, the Messiah (the Christ).
In one sense, David’s story reminds us that God does take our tragic history of sin “in Adam” and rewrites it “in Christ” so our sins and iniquities He remembers no more.
Romans 4:6-8 David describes the blessedness of a man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”
However, we know that in the history of Israel, there were grave consequences in David’s life because of his sin. He felt these personally, as did his family and the nation.
Another of David’s sins that also had national repercussions are recorded in 2 Samuel 24, and I Chronicles 20. It is when David, motivated by pride, decides to take a census to number his great kingdom of Israel.
There were times that God ordered that a census be taken for purposes that He made known (Numbers 1:1-3; 26:1-2). But God did not order this one.
In 1 Chronicles we get important information that is not recorded in 2 Samuel. It is that Satan inspired this census.
1 Chronicles 21:1 1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel
2 Samuel 24:1 lets us know that God permitted Satan to do this to accomplish what He had in mind.
How does Satan influence the thoughts of men and women? Satan cannot read our minds, but he can read our behavior. He recognizes what captures our attention, what motivates our speech, and what influences our decisions. He and his demonic forces can somehow insert thoughts into our own thought-stream. He knows what buttons to push that would cause emotional reactions that would distort our hearing and short-circuit our understanding. He blinds the minds of those who believe not. He and his forces of darkness can speak in our tone of voice using the ‘first person pronoun’ and get us to think that we are thinking what are actually his thoughts or his lies. He makes us think that we are the author of every thought in our mind’s subvocalization. The Tempter knows how to get us to swallow specifically chosen lures and baits that he uses to reel us in for his ‘catch.’ He knows he has a great gullible ally in our flesh.
We are told to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). An important means of resisting Satan is to ‘discern’ what is influencing our current thinking.
Satan’s core sin is pride (Isaiah 14:13-14; Ezekiel 28:17). He knows how to dupe us into schemes that will jack up our ego. This is what he did with David. David’s victories and successes were all due to the Lord being with him (1 Samuel 18:14). Rather than boasting in the Lord, Satan knew David could easily be swayed to boast in the number of his people instead! Some trust in chariots, some in horses, but where are those who trust in the Lord? Reading through the Bible, we have learned that God is not dependent upon numbers. He looks upon the heart. He does a lot with the humble, the dependent, and the few.
Campbell Morgan writes, “A decrease in membership is not always a calamity. God can do more with 300 men of a certain quality than 32,000 of a mixed mob of fearful and self-centered souls (see Judges 7). When we are moved to number the people, we may rest assured that the impulse is Divine or Satanic, and we may determine which by the motive. If the motive is service, it is God. If the motive is pride, it is Satanic.”
If we are walking after the flesh rather than the Spirit, the enemy of our souls can move our thoughts and feelings in ways that suit him. Therefore, we need to be on guard.
The Apostle Paul uses the analogy from the Old Testament of necessary and useful ‘spiritual armor’ that we can use as we ‘stand’ in the Victory of Christ over Satan. We need the ‘belt of truth’ which refers to ‘the whole of Scripture’ for spiritual discernment. Isaiah speaks of resorting ‘to the law and the testimony’, ‘line upon line, precept upon precept’ (Isaiah 8:20; 28:10). Paul also sees the need for us to ‘put on Christ’ and make no provision for the flesh (Romans 13:14). We are to put on Christ as He is revealed in all of the Scriptures and walk in the Spirit pursuing righteousness.
Isaiah 11:5 5 Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist.
Isaiah 59:17 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.
King David got into trouble when he did not have the mindset to be actively engaged in doing that which would bring glory to God and benefit others.
Satan’s thoughts and the wayward thoughts of the flesh are like fiery darts that would seek to penetrate and destroy our souls. We intercept them and extinguish them with the shield of faith. Jesus answered the Tempter in the wilderness holding high the shield of faith – “It is written”! (Matt 4:4) “Again, it is written!” (Matt 4:7) “Be gone, Satan, for It is written” (Matt 4:10).
Ephesians 6:11 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
King David gave in to the devil’s schemes. His actions were influenced by Satanically induced pride. His commander Joab warned him that he would be bringing guilt upon Israel (21:3).
The results were catastrophic. “This command was evil in the sight of God; so He punished Israel” (21:7).
David does repent and says those important words to God: “I have sinned.” (21:8)
The Lord said to the prophet Gad that he was giving David three options for chastisement: three years of famine, three months of being swept away by his enemies, or three days subject to the sword of the Lord- days of plague in the land.
David’s response is to be dealt with by the Lord directly, rather than being ravaged by famine or enemy troops.
You may remember the story from 2 Samuel. The Lord sent a devastating plague that killed 70,000 men. The Lord calls the angel of the Lord who is standing on the threshing floor of Araunah to withdraw his hand. He asks that an altar be built to stop the plague. This is the same place where the angel of the Lord stayed Abraham’s hand when he was about to offer up Isaac. This is also the place where Jesus would be crucified 1000 years later.
David, after repenting of his sin, offers his life and that of his household as a substitute for the people of Jerusalem, who are now facing potential decimation.
1 Chronicles 21:17-18 17 David said to God, “Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s household, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.”
This reminds us of when Moses offered his life as a substitute to take the punishment due to fall upon his people.
Exodus 32:32 32 “But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!”
In both the cases of Moses and David, the Lord refused their offers to be sin-bearing substitutes. Why? Because they themselves were sinners sorely in need of a sinless substitute. It was not until Jesus arrives that God would grant the request for substitution.
2 Corinthians 5:21 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
1 Chronicles 21:18 18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
The Lord was picking the site for the temple. This is where the Son of God would reverse the curse and defeat Satan.
When David offers to purchase the threshing floor for the full price so he can build an altar in obedience to the Lord, Araunah (Ornan) offers it to David for free.
1 Chronicles 21:24 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price; for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, or offer a burnt offering which costs me nothing.”
It is a prophetic statement foreshadowing the Expected Son of David who would pay the full price for our salvation. It would cost Him everything.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – ROMANS 2:25-3:8
Paul gives an honest assessment of the advantages that have been given to the Jewish people. They have the Scriptures (Romans 3:2). They were entrusted with the very words of God (Exodus 19-20; Deut 4:8). They were God’s chosen covenant people. They were the race through whom the Messiah would come to bring salvation (Isaiah 11:1-10; Matt 1:1-17). They have a history of God’s dealings with them, in which God was proved to be faithful. This should build their faith. But Paul is making the case that apart from faith, they have no righteousness of their own. Neither do the Gentiles. Their privileges did not make them better than others; in fact, they made them more responsible.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 11:1-7
The Psalmist is surrounded by people who are afraid of enemy attacks. They want to quit. They want to flee.
David speaks back to his fearful associates, saying, “In the LORD I take refuge; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;” (Psalm 11:1)
Have you ever felt like quitting or running away when the going gets tough? Take refuge in the Lord.
I think of our nation when I read verse 3.
Psalm 11:3 3 If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?”
We desire to live righteously and have our children and communities live righteously, but when our society repudiates the Biblical foundation of honoring God’s Word, what are the righteous to do?
Never forget, no matter what the situation looks like, God is on His heavenly throne (Psalm 11:4). He will prevail.
The Lord gives careful attention to deal with those who are in a relationship with Him in which they are trusting Him to be and do all that He has declared in His Word. He tests the righteous.
Psalm 11:7 7 For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 19:10-12
Proverbs 19:10-12 10 Luxury is not fitting for a fool; Much less for a slave to rule over princes. 11 A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression. 12 The king’s wrath is like the roaring of a lion, but his favor is like dew on the grass.
Matthew Henry writes in his commentary: ”A man that has not wisdom and grace, has no right or title to true joy. It is very unseemly for one who is a servant to sin, to oppress God’s free-men. He attains the most true glory, who endeavors most steadily to overcome evil with good. Christ is a King, whose wrath against his enemies will be as the roaring of a lion, and his favor to his people as the refreshing dew.”
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS
Islamic Republic of Iran
Area: 1,648,196 sq. km
Situated between the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. A central desert ringed by mountains.
Population: 75,077,547 Annual Growth: 1.19%
HDI Rank: 88 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Official language: Persian (Farsi; Dari and Tajik are major dialects); almost all Iranians speak some form of Persian as a mother tongue or second language Languages: 79 All languages
Largest Religion: Muslim
Challenges for Prayer
The Iranian Diaspora is around four million. Most have found refuge in the USA, Canada, Western Europe, Turkey, Gulf States, and other lands – where they can be evangelized. Western countries are making it harder for Iranians to immigrate. Pray for:
a) Diaspora churches. There are probably about 800 Persian-speaking Iranian churches and house fellowships, totaling around 200,000 people. Unity is frequently a challenge. Yet these diaspora Christians are highly active and generous regarding ministry into Iran and among other Iranians abroad; their contribution in this regard is crucial.
b) Ministries reaching out to the diaspora, providing not only evangelism tools and outreach but also church planting, discipleship, and leadership training, so that Iranians living abroad will be reached and hopefully then reach other Iranians. Christian refugees fleeing from persecution are also assisted. Many diaspora Christians visit Iran and powerfully minister to their countrymen. Significant ministries include Elam Ministries, 222 Ministries, Persian World Outreach, Iran Alive Ministries, and Iranian Christians International.
Young people are particularly responsive to the gospel. With nearly two-thirds of the population under age 30, with disillusionment at an all-time high and with frustrated desires for freedom, there is a unique window of opportunity to impact this generation with the liberating good news about Jesus. Political, economic, and social frustrations are often expressed in resentment against the regime and in increasing hedonism and materialism. Pray that the unmet longings of their hearts might be fulfilled as they meet Christ. Already, much of the underground church is made up of this younger generation.
PRAYER: Lord, we thank you that in Christ we have the sure mercies of David. Thank You again for the gift of the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of a right standing with You in the righteousness of Your Son. You have made Him to be for us the perfect solution to the problem of sin, our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Keep us from ever boasting in anything other than Your glory and grace. We are blessed with all that is freely given to us in and through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.