1. What are some things that get out of alignment from time to time and need to be adjusted? (Wheel adjustment; Attitude; Spiritual life; etc.)
2. If we fail to get these things back in alignment there are consequences that we will face. Why do we often ignore consequences as we cling to sinful and/or unhealthy behaviors?
3. How can God use the consequences to discipline us?
4. What consequences have you experienced or seen that prompted a change in your behavior?
In our passage today David called for a census against God’s will, bringing severe consequences on him and his people.
In Exodus 30:11-16, God gave instructions about taking a census of Israel. The Law states when you take a census each man 20 years old or older must pay half a shekel as a ransom. Notice they were not told to take a census or how often to take a census. The money was used “for the service of the tent of meeting.”
In the first nine verses of 2 Samuel 24 we find David decided to take a census of all of Israel. He summoned Joab and ordered him to conduct the census. Joab disagreed and tried to talk David out of taking the census but David would not relent, so the census was started.
I was having a hard time with this passage, so I turned to Bob Beckel. He helped me understand it a little better. First Chronicles 21 also gives an account of this event. There we find Satan “incited David to count the people of Israel.” After David had the census taken he realized it was against God’s will so he asked for God’s forgiveness. We don’t really know why the census was wrong. Here God used Satan much as He had with Job to test him.
There are different ideas about what was wrong with David taking the census. Sometimes we want to “count” what we have because of a prideful attitude. Let’s see what happened.
Confession! Read 2 Samuel 24:10
1. How would you describe what was going on in David’s heart?
2. What did David’s actions indicate about his heart? (He wanted a right relationship with God; He knew something was wrong about taking the census!)
3. What emotions might we experience when we recognize we’ve done wrong? (Shame, guilt, embarrassment, etc.)
4. What does a reluctance to confess sin indicate about a person?
5. What excuses do we use to justify our sins and avoid confession? (Moment of weakness; I’m only human; they deserved it; they would have done it to me; etc.)
6. Why aren’t these valid excuses? (We are comparing our actions to the wrong “measuring stick.” God’s standards are what we need to measure ourselves by!)
7. What will likely happen if we continue to postpone a confession? (Our fellowship with God will suffer greatly. Until we get things right with Him we will not have any peace.)
1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God was at work in David’s heart that night and in the heart of the prophet Gad.
Consequences! Read 2 Samuel 24:11-15
1. Why do you think the Lord gave David the choice over which consequence he and the nation would have to endure?
2. Notice the last few words of verse 12, “I will do it to you.” Why do you think God said “to you” rather than “to Israel.”?
3. What were the pros and cons of each choice? (Three years of famine? Three months of fleeing from your enemies? Three days of plague throughout the land?)
4. Consider these sins: Sexual immorality; Alcoholism; Dishonesty; Drug abuse; Wide spread atheism; human trafficking; etc. What are the consequences of these sins on the individual, the community, the nation, the world?
5. In what ways can we show compassion for those who struggle with such sins?
6. I read some this week about the influenza outbreak of 1918-1919. The world wide death toll was somewhere between 20 million and 40 million—more than died in the Great War. There were reports of people dying within an hour of showing symptoms. If it possible that it was God’s judgment on us?
Compassion! Read 2 Samuel 24: 16-17
As the angel delivering the pestilence approached Jerusalem, God mercifully stopped the angel from proceeding.
1. What attributes of God are evident in these verse?
2. What is the importance of the threshing floor of Araunah? (This is the site were Abraham was prepared to offered Isaac as a sacrifice to God. It is the site where Solomon would build the great Temple to God! Perhaps part of the results God was orchestrating was the purchase of the site for the future Temple.)
3. How do these verses show how David showed the qualities of a good king? (David’s heart was breaking because his people were suffering because of his sin. It is important for leaders to remember the people they lead must live with the consequences of their decisions!)
4. How is experiencing compassion humbling?
5. How do God’s holiness and compassion work together in this passage?
6. What are some ways people respond to God’s compassion? (Hopefully with humility and worship. But there are always those who want to take advantage of God’s compassion.)
7. How does humility give us the courage to change our behavior? (One aspect of humility is yielding our heart and obedience to God.)
8. What makes a person too stubborn to heed discipline?
Contrition! Read 2 Samuel 24:18-25
The word “contrition” comes from an old French word meaning “to grind down,” but today it means “sincere remorse.”
1. How does the original meaning relate to today’s meaning? (When we feel remorse, we feel like the lowest of the low or that we have been “ground down.”)
2. How did David show contrition in these verses?
3. How did Gad and Araunah contribute to David’s contrition?
4. Why didn’t David take Araunah’s offer of free land and sacrificial animals?
5. In what ways can we offer a sacrifice to God that cost us nothing? (“Well, this is something I don’t need so I’ll just give it to the church!” “I’ll just prepare Saturday night, I already know that passage of Scripture well enough.”)
Summarize and Challenge!
Spend some time this week asking God to reveal any sins you have failed to confess to Him or ignored. Thank Him for providing forgiveness through His Son.
List some ways God has demonstrated His compassion to you. Reflect how these acts of compassion impact your life.
1. What changes in your life need to be made in light of receiving God’s compassion?
2. How can we encourage each other to give our best to God at all times?
There is a song that puts the words of David here to music.
I Will Not Offer Anything That Cost Me Nothing!
I cannot come before my righteous holy Lord
And offer to Him worldly things I do not need
And hope He’s pleased.
For He wants me to give a heart that’s truly His,
An offering of highest price, a servant who the Lord can use.
I will not offer anything that cost me nothing
I’ll place before Him nothing less than my very best.
If I am called to sacrifice, it will be worthy of my Christ,
I will not offer anything that cost me nothing!
To serve Him is my goal, how could I withhold?
Whatever’s mine, He’s given me. It’s not my own, it’s His alone.
Whatever He requires, that is my desire.
Whatever He may need from me, I’ll pay the cost, gain or loss.
—Pray this will truly be our desire!—