David was incited (provoked, urged, and stimulated) by Satan to number Israel. Satan appealed to David’s pride and David was curious to take an inventory of his army’s power and numbers. God was greatly displeased with David’s actions and even his general, Joab, was alarmed when he was ordered to carry out David’s command.
David acknowledged and confessed his sin to God by saying, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” God wanted David to understand that it was not his strength, wisdom, or ability that brought him many victories, but it was God alone that enabled him to conquer his enemies.
God further instructed the prophet Gad to give David the choice of three punishments for his disobedience. “…either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the LORD, even pestilence in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.” “…and David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man.’” God struck Israel with judgment, and 70,000 men perished from a pandemic pestilence carried out by an angel of the Lord with a drawn sword.
David knew there was hope in the midst of this calamity and held on to his God of mercy and grace! He obeyed God’s command to build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. “Then David built an altar to the LORD there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the LORD and He answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. The LORD commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.”
Today, the altar of the Lord is in our hearts, and we must minister to God as His priests and bring Him an offering of praise and thanksgiving – for God inhabits the praise of His people. We have been granted access into the Holy of Holies through the sacrificial blood of Jesus where we meet with God and call down His presence to push back the darkness in the world today. Build Me an altar!
References: I Chronicles 21; Psalm 22:3; Acts 27:15-18
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