Today’s readings.. (2 Samuel 24), (Jeremiah 27), (Mark 1)

The final chapter in 2 Samuel begins by telling us “again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.”  We are not told why God was angry, there is no indication that it was comparable with his anger in the days of Jeremiah resulting in the Temple and the city being destroyed.      We suggest his anger with Israel was because so many people had been ready to rally around Absalom and go to war against David and his faithful men. These had no depth of appreciation over the conquests and success of David in totally subduing the Philistines and other nations.
We ponder the verse which goes on to say that the LORD “incited David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah.”   Joab reluctantly carried David’s  request and completed the numbering of “valiant men who draw the sword” [v.9] Then we read, “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 … I have acted very foolishly” [v.10]
David knew from past experience that the LORD “can save by many or by few” [1 Sam 14:6] as his dear friend Jonathan had said and experienced.  It is better by few, then it is more evident that a victory has not been achieved by man’s own strength. Our conclusion of the meaning behind the phrase that the LORD “incited David” – is that it means the Lord allowed David to follow his own foolish desires.  There is a Proverb which says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” [16 v.9] and another, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” [21 v.1]  In this case, it served the LORD’s purpose to allow David to follow his desires.  The result taught David a lesson and at the same time led to the deserved punishment of the people.
In that sense God became a “satan” – as the parallel account in 1 Chron 21 v.1 tells us.  This should not surprise us as the first occurrence of the Hebrew word ‘satanas’ in the Bible describes the action of an angel from God in being an adversary to Balaam [Numbers 22 v.22] Indeed the Hebrew word Satan (satanas) is many times translated as adversary in the Old Testament and names these adversaries, especially adversaries of Solomon, at the end of his reign. (1 Kings 11 v.14, 23, 25)  Remember Peter became a satan, an adversary to Jesus, as we will read shortly in Mark 8 v33.  May not any of us become a satan!  This can happen when we are ‘blind’ to the ways of God. Let us know and do the will of our Heavenly Father as much as we can.

 

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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