Taking responsibility

But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’
1 Chronicles 21:24 (NIV)

Read: 1 Chronicles 21:1-30

Consider: To appreciate what is happening in 1 Chronicles 21, we need to understand David’s motives in initiating a census of all males throughout his kingdom who would be eligible to fight in his army. Only once before had a census been taken of all males over twenty years old who were able to serve in the army.  At that time the census had been initiated by God (Numbers 1:1-3).

David’s census (1 Chronicles 21) was undertaken so that David could take pride in the strength of his army. By doing this David revealed that his heart was not trusting fully in God’s strength. He was coming to rely more on military strength and to rely less on God.

Even the sound advice of Joab (v3) failed to turn David away from this reckless action. In 1 Chronicles 21:4 we read: The king’s word, however, overruled Joab …’ As the king’s command was repulsive to Joab he didn’t include in the census the eligible men from the tribes of Levi and Benjamin. Despite this the census recorded ‘… one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword …’ (v5). David must have felt great pride at this point, but not for long. We can’t be sure what form the punishment of Israel took (v7), but whatever it was it was enough for David to realise his sin. We are told: Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing’ (v8).

It might seem vengeful to us that God’s subsequent punishment on the people of Israel was that seventy thousand of them died in a plague. It is David’s response that is very telling of the man. In 1 Chronicles 21:17 we read: David said to God, ‘Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd have sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? LORD, my God, let your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people’. As king, David was willing to take personal responsibility for his actions.

God gave David a way out of the situation by asking him to build an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Having been disobedient to God by initiating the census, we now find David being obedient to God (v19). The remainder of the chapter tells of David’s dealings with Araunah and the setting up of the altar. David insists on paying Araunah full price for the land. As king it would have been tempting for David to accept Araunah’s offer of the threshing-floor. Here is another measure of the man. Did you notice in verse 24 what he said?  David says to Araunah: ‘… I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing

What lessons can we learn from this passage? Firstly, it is important for us to take personal responsibility for our actions. God does not excuse sin; he does however forgive sin, when we come to him with a repentant heart. Secondly, whatever we give to God should be given sacrificially; it should cost us something in terms of self, time or money.

Pray: Father, help us to take responsibility for our actions in all areas of life. May we be willing to sacrificially give of our self, time and money in your service. Amen

Every blessing

Author: profsloan

The purpose of this blog is to encourage others to read the Bible daily and to grow in Christ. Each day I will generally publish a devotional or a reading for the day, together with a prayer.

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