2 Samuel 24:17 (KJV) And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.
How would you respond if someone dear to your heart engaged in a manner that was offensive to you? Many of us would either say something to the individual to let them know how we were feeling. Others of us would probably allow our actions to do all of the speaking for us as we give them the “cold shoulder”. But, in reality, we must ask ourselves: What would we do if God acted like this towards us whenever we sinned?
Some of us would be devastated because the God we read or heard about from the Bible would never act this way. The skeptic would feel justified in continuing to denounce God’s existence. So how does God respond in cases as such, and what can we learn from Our Father’s example?
Understanding The Text
In this text, we have been discussing the scenario wherein David sinned in verse one of the narrative. David’s sin led to God’s anger being kindled, not only against David but the entire Nation of Israel. David later acknowledges his sin and repents (v. 10). In verse 13, the prophet Gad presents God’s potential options for punishment to David. As a side note, this lets us know that even a man (or woman) after God’s own heart can get it wrong sometimes and reap the consequences. So, we would do well to take heed less we “also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1). I digress…
Gad’s presentation allows David to consider the best recourse for his actions, and we read that God sent a pestilence (or what we would call a plague) in verse 15. Because of David’s previous experiences with God, he knew that he could appeal to His mercy, though he was undeserving. But was God justified in continuing to mete out punishment and exact justice? Of course, He was. David’s sin is believed to be traced to God’s command in Ex. 30:11-16. Although we are not told why David’s action was a sin in today’s narrative, if we compare his act and the pending punishment with the narrative in Exodus, things will begin to align themselves with one another and shed light on the situation.
Even amidst the surrounding devastation, David stood by his previous declaration that God was still full of mercy. After God stays the hand of the Angel in verse 16, we find David falling into a posture of repentance again and appeals to the mercy of God once again in verse 17.
We are forgiven…not because we are deserving…but because God is full of grace and mercy.
Why Is This Important To Us?
This is important to us because we are sometimes overwhelmed with what we believe is the enormity of our sin. This is not to minimize the magnitude of sin’s disruption to God’s order. However, it is to cast light on the fact that sin is sin. It does not matter how great or how small we attempt to categorize it. As we sin against others (including God), we come face to face with the moment wherein we must make a decision. Either we are going to repent or we are going to continue on the same path as before.
Others will hold grudges against us, or even end the relationship, depending on the severity of the offense. Regardless of how much we beg for forgiveness, grace is sometimes not extended to us. Truthfully speaking, sometimes, we are deserving of being ostracized. This is humanity’s way of dealing with the issue.
However, when we appeal to God, because of His great love for us and because He knows our hearts, He will pour out His grace and mercy upon us. We may ask, “Then why does He still punish us?” Because the Bible teaches us that as a Good Father, God chastises us “…for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Afterward, He says, “…it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness…” (Heb. 12:11). Is it not our heart’s desire to partake of His holiness and righteousness so that we can be identified as his sons and daughters?
One of the most profound statements made by God in the Bible is in Hosea, where He says, “…Mine heart is turned in Me, My repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee…” (vv. 8-9). It speaks of a nation deserving God’s wrath, but in a moment of grace, we hear echoes of God’s mercy coming to the forefront. It is still the same today for us because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
Are we deserving of God’s wrath? Of course, but thank God for Jesus! Because of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross, we have access to the Father and can appeal to His mercy just like David. We no longer have to be afraid to approach Him because He covers us with the Blood of Jesus and it makes us worthy because Jesus was worthy.
Men may hold our offenses against us, but if we truly repent, God will not. Why not? Because He’s God, and not man…