2 Samuel 24:1–25
What the reason was for inciting the census has remained a mystery. Why God would incite David to do this, and thus punish the Israelites, is also a mystery. Some have claimed that this was still the penalty of David’s murder of Uriah and his affair with (and marriage to) Bathsheba. The implication is that while David was the empowered person who did wrong, the people also did wrong by standing by and doing nothing.
When David could not choose a path and left it to God, God chose the supposed lesser penalty against the people. That David gave up the choice to God, and God chose this path strongly implicates the peoples’ guilt in something. Why the plague for a census? That’s another interesting thing. In Exodus 30:11–16, there is a penalty for everyone if a census is taken and each man (males over 20) does not pay a half shekel. Apparently, there were many who could not pay the price.
In the midst of his indecision, David’s fear (people against him for 3 months) resulted in the death of his people, those for whom he was responsible. He obviously came to a point of remorse and regret and knew that the path taken was his responsibility. He chose to make amends the best way he knew how…sacrificial worship.
Even the site and animal sacrifices (not inexpensive) were offered to him for free, but he chose the correct path and paid for it. The site of this saving sacrifice? It became the home of the temple built by Solomon. This site which was first used to atone for the census (and whatever else we don’t “see”) became the place where people “met” God.
1) While we understand that “meeting” God happens in all sorts of places, no matter where we are, we humans like (some say need) places to meet God. What are your thoughts regarding how God transformed this place of sacrifice?
2) How did God transform the suffering of the Israelites and David?