2 Samuel 24:17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family.”
This is one of several passages that indicate why David, in spite of his sins, was “a man after God’s own heart.” (Acts 13:22) Here, he acknowledges that the fault is his and asks that punishment come on him and his family, rather than on the people as a whole. That’s the heart of a true leader! The sin in question is one we have trouble wrapping our minds around. Why would taking a census be sinful? The only answer I can come up with was that it was specifically a military census, to determine the size of his army. (verse 2) These days we would agree that an accurate grasp of your resources is essential, but in those days it was much more an expression of the vanity of the ruler. Besides that, it was quite an undertaking. This one took almost 10 months! (verse 8) All of that indicated a reliance on man, on material things, rather than on the Lord, and I think that is the sin involved here. How often do we do that? Quite often, I would venture. The most famous part of this story comes from verse 24, where David insists that he will not sacrifice to God something that belongs to someone else. On the face of it, that doesn’t fit the definition of sacrifice! As king, he could easily have commandeered the land and the oxen, but as it was, he paid what was probably rather more than the going price for them, before offering the sacrifice. It is significant that this spot was exactly where David’s son Solomon would later build the temple. All of this brings home the fact that God is pleased when we accept personal responsibility for things. Ever since the Garden of Eden we have been prone to try to evade such responsibility, but God sees through all our excuses. Honesty with God, with ourselves, and with others is without question the only way to grow as God’s children.
I will confess to being as prone to want to “pass the buck” as the next guy, but I’ve learned the hard way that never works out well in the end. I was blessed immeasurably by being raised by a father who took absolute honesty as one of his core principles, and it grieves me to see evasion of responsibility and accountability actively being taught. Psychology has its uses and can be very helpful, but these days it is all too often used to excuse almost any behavior. Having been hurt yourself is NOT an excuse to hurt others! I’ve got to remember that from both sides. I’m not to inflict my wounds on others, and I am not to excuse sin, but call for repentance and extend forgiveness. So many people confuse permitting/excusing with forgiveness! I must not do that, with myself or with others, but confess my own sins and lead others to do likewise. Only then will the blood of the cross be fully effective to cleanse us. (Hebrews 9:14)
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me never run from responsibility, from accountability, but rather walk in humility and honesty before You, so that I will be fully available for Your purposes, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!