Six things we can learn from David’s sin

In 2 Samuel 24, David takes a census of the people. While the census itself was not a sin, and there were times that God told people in the Bible to take a census, this particular census drew the wrath of God. Because we see God get angry, we can assume that David’s motives behind the census is what drew God’s attention. David was putting trust in his military power rather than in the Lord’s protection and guidance. From David’s actions we can learn six things about sin:

There is always motivation behind every sin.

In verse three, we find that when Joab was instructed by David to take the census, Joab asks, “But why does my lord the king desire this thing?” Joab appears to have been concerned about David’s motives, yet he obeys his king and census is taken. Verse 10 also let’s us know that David’s motives were not in the right place: “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. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

God brings conviction with every sin.

As soon as it was completed, the Bible tells us that “David’s heart condemned him.” In other words, he was convicted of his sin. Maybe God placed that concern in Joab’s heart as a “warning sign” to David. However, David ignored it and continued with his plans.

Can you think of a time when you were considering some sin and someone warned you against it? That could have been God sending you a warning sign to reconsider your actions. What did you do? Did you heed the advice of the person God sent or did you, like David, continue with your plans. There is nothing worse than doing something and then immediately afterwards your heart is filled with regret and shame, knowing you have disappointed God yet again.

When we sin, we should repent quickly.

After “David’s heart condemns him,” we see David acknowledging his sin and asking God to take away his iniquity. We don’t know exactly how long it was after the census that David’s heart condemned him. But we do see him seeking God to remove his sin as soon as he realizes his sin.

With sin, comes consequences.

Yes, David asked God to remove his iniquity from him, but God still sent the prophet, Gad to David with God’s message. David was to choose as his consequences between seven years of famine, flee for three months before his enemies while they pursue him, or three days’ plague in the land.

Even when we sin, there is always mercy at the hand of God.

David knew his enemies would have no mercy so he chose to fall into the hand of God, knowing He was a God of mercy. When God sent a plague over Jerusalem to destroy it, David’s knowledge of God’s mercy proved to be correct. The Lord relented and spared the city. However, in the plague God sent, 70,000 people died.

Sin’s effects often ripple out to those around us.

It is interesting that David’s sin was placing his trust in his military might and therefore numbered the people so God’s consequence was to send a plaque that caused 70,000 people to die. David then says to God, “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.” David pleas with God to strike only himself and his family, but sin often has consequences that affect others, especially if the sinner is a leader. When we choose to follow our own plans, our choices affect others and they can get caught up in the consequences of our sin.

Let’s learn from David and be attentive to those God sends us as a warning and heed their words to keep us from sin. Let’s also consider how our choices and actions affect those around us. And when we do sin, let’s repent quickly and fall on the mercy of God and seek his forgiveness.


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