Have you ever read I Chronicles? There are parts of it, the so and so’s son and his son and his son, that are easy to tune out if you aren’t careful. I remind myself that it’s in the Bible so it must be important and Rob says that the genealogies are meant to be studied. There is important information in there about, among other things, the lineage of Christ. And I am always amazed at the sheer number of people who made up the children of Israel. Thousands upon thousands.
Toward the end of this book of history we find where those numbers got David into a wee bit of trouble with God. He (David) wanted to count the people and there are a couple of schools of thought as to why. Some think it was to assess his military might, in which case he was looking to rely on human strength for victory. Or it was pride pure and simple and he was counting as if what belonged to God was actually his. Either way we know God was not happy about this little accounting project of David’s.
God’s displeasure is made known and David agrees that, no matter the reason, he has sinned greatly and has acted foolishly. We aren’t told exactly how God communicated this displeasure but what we are told is that God struck Israel, not just David, but Israel. And then after he confesses his sin God tells David he basically could choose between three forms of discipline. A three years long famine, three months of defeat by his enemies, or three days of “…the sword of the LORD, pestilence on the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.”
Those are some serious consequences! And not just for David but for his people. Scripture goes on to tell us that seventy thousand men died and the pestilence came over the land and that was surely felt by all.
As I was reading this I noticed something about myself. I do not take my sin, and it’s possible consequences, serious enough. Not nearly serious enough. I may think I sin in a bubble and that it affects only myself but that really isn’t true. I may not have the Angel of the Lord poised over my house with a sword in His hand but my sin, the seed of my hidden nobody knows sin, will find soil in the minds and hearts of my children. It will be sown into the relationships I have with everyone. Selfishness, greed, ingratitude, pride…these are pestilence that we so easily pass along and share within our families and communities.
I really want to grab hold of this. I want it to be a road block to my sinfulness. And when I manage to scoot around it and do what I want anyway and then seek forgiveness when God prods me I want to be like David and fall on my face asking for mercy for the ones around me affected by my sin.
May God be gracious to answer and protect my people from me.