First, we are reminded of the faithfulness of God as the Savior of His people.
Second, we see that while God is a faithful Savior, He will use men of courage and faith.
Third, we see that while man is sinful, our sin never hinders God from accomplishing His saving work.
Fourth, we see from this epilogue that no human king will ever be able to fulfill God’s promise of salvation.
Exodus 30:12: “When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.”
The principle of Exodus 30:12 speaks of God’s ownership of His people. No man had a right to count or number what belonged to God. The people of Israel belonged to God. If David counted he should only do it at God’s command and receiving ransom money to “atone” for the counting. [Bible.org]
Census [verses 1-7]
1 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.
Judgement on David’s Sin [verse 10-17]
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 he 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.”
Altar on the Threshing Floor [verses 18-25]
18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David, according to the word of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded. 20 Now Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming toward him. So Araunah went out and bowed before the king with his face to the ground. 21 Then Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” And David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be withdrawn from the people.”
22 Now Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up whatever seems good to him. Look, here are oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing implements and the yokes of the oxen for wood. 23 All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.
Here we have an example of Calamity and Compassion. God has poured out His wrath on His people, but now He took compassion on them. He order the angel, who was standing by the threshing floor, to cease from killing any more people. David could not have known God’s purposes yet, and so he petitioned God in an attempt to halt the plague. He asked that God’s anger be satisfied by pouring out His wrath on him [on his father’s house]. But God had a better plan.
- Moses and Aaron, and throughout the period of the judges, God saved His people when they cried out to Him (1 Samuel 12:6-11). Then God saved Israel through Saul and David. They led the nation in battle against their enemies. God served as David’s Savior over and over again in his lifetime. God is faithful as the Savior of His people, even when His people fail. David continually worshiped God as His fortress and his salvation.
- David was prepared for his reign as Israel’s king by shepherding a small flock of his father’s sheep. He learned to trust God and to act courageously to save the flock from the attacks of bears and lions. His military career began with his confrontation of Goliath on the battlefield. Saul did not inspire courage in his men, but David’s courage inspired many others to fight with faith and boldness against unbelievable odds. These men made it possible for David to cease fighting when his strength began to fail.
If David is the best that history has to offer, we can only see the faithfulness of God as He used David in bringing about great blessings through his failures. Two of Israel’s greatest blessings came about as a result of two of David’s greatest sins. David’s sin with Bathsheba resulted in the messianic line passing down through Bathsheba, and eventually this marriage produced the next king — Solomon. David’s sin in numbering the Israelite warriors resulted in the purchase of the threshing floor of Araunah, which was the building site for the temple that was to be constructed under King Solomon. The salvation of the Gentiles was due, to the rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah by the Jews (see Romans 11). Our sin, while it offends the righteousness of God, can be used to accomplish His purposes and promises. He will also employ Satan to achieve His purposes (1 Chronicles 21:1.).
- There must be one coming who is greater than David. Israel had rejected God as their king in 1 Samuel 8, when they demanded a king to “save” them from their enemies. God never really abdicated His place as Israel’s King, as Israel’s Savior. Through the line of David, God would someday provide a King for His people who would save them from their sins. He would be more than David, more than a man, and one who was without sin. He would be the Lord Jesus Christ, who came as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He would be “delivered from death” as God the Father raised Him from the dead. He would return as the King of Israel, triumphing over his enemies.
PSALM 36 Man’s Wickedness and God’s Perfections