We have followed the historian’s record of David’s census of the Levite tribe. The king had assigned men and their families to the task of ministering in the Temple, and in other matters related to their spiritual offices (1 Chronicles 23-26). With the important task of organizing the tribe of Levi complete, David’s focus shifted to the matter of his military organization.
Today’s Scripture reading gives a record of the divisions and organization of the men who were leaders in David’s army (27:1-15). You will notice there were twelve divisions, and each division consisted of 24,000 men. A leader is named for each division. In addition, the princes, or rulers, who served as leaders of the tribes of Israel are named (27:16-22). The exception, neither the tribes of Gad or Asher are listed.
1 Chronicles 27:23-24 serve as a reminder of an earlier census when David had numbered only men who were twenty years and older (27:23a). The king, having received a promise from the LORD that Israel would be without number (“like to the stars of the heavens”), had not counted those who were younger than twenty years. We are reminded how Joab had questioned the king’s purpose for numbering the people (1 Chronicles 21:3), nevertheless, “24Joab the son of Zeruiah began to number” (27:24), but he refused to number the men of Levi and Benjamin (21:6). God had judged the nation for the king’s command to count the people, and His wrath “for it [had fallen]against Israel; neither was the number put in the account of the chronicles of king David” (27:24).
David had become a man of vast wealth in Israel, and he had appointed over his treasures, fields, vineyards, and herds, men who were trusted with all that he owned (27:25-31).
Recorded in the closing verses is a list of David’s trusted counselors (27:32-34). Named among them is Ahithophel, a counselor to the king, and Bathsheba’s grandfather. Although he had aligned himself with David’s son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:31; 16:23), when the insurrection failed, he hanged himself (2 Samuel 17); nevertheless, Ahithophel is named among David’s great men (27:33).
Closing thoughts – We have followed David’s life from his youth as a shepherd, to his last days as a powerful, and wealthy king. Here was a man who remembered it was the LORD who had taken him from herding sheep, to leading a great nation and people. His sinful passions, particularly his adultery with Bathsheba, shadowed his life, causing him to reap many sorrows. Yet, though he was a man surrounded by wise, and powerful men, he found his greatest joy and confidence in God’s Word.
Where, or to whom, do you turn for counsel?
Psalm 119:24 – “24Thy testimonies [i.e. words, laws, commandments] also are my delight and my counsellers.”
David’s census of the Levites continues in 1 Chronicles 26 with the assignment of men and families who would serve as “the porters” of the Temple (26:1-19). The “porters” were in fact gatekeepers, and the ancient equivalent of what churches today would describe as a security team.
How important were the porters? They were of the tribe of Levi, and chosen by the LORD to serve Him on behalf of Israel. It was their task to guard the entrances to the Temple, and be alert to thieves and enemies. They were extraordinary men, and were as serious about their tasks as the priests were theirs. The porters were described as “mighty men of valour” (26:6), “strong men” (26:7), and “able men” (26:8). They were assigned by families to gates (26:13-19), and there were twenty-four companies in all.
In addition to guarding the Temple, some Levite households were keepers of the Temple treasuries (26:20-28). These families were entrusted with securing the “treasures of the house of God, and [watched] over the dedicated things” (26:20). It was their task to secure the gifts offered by the people, and the “spoils won in battles” (26:20). The treasuries of the Temple were dedicated to the maintenance of “the house of the LORD” (26:27).
A third group of Levite families oversaw “the outward business over Israel, and were officers and judges” (26:29). By “outward business,” we are to understand it was the governing of the land outside the Temple. They were the counselors of the law to the king and his officers. They were “men of valour…in the service of the king” (26:30). Some were assigned to the tribes west of the Jordan River (26:30), while others were assigned to the tribes on the east side of the Jordan (26:32). Theirs was a sacred trust, “for every matter pertaining to God, and affairs of the king” (26:32).
Unlike many of the psalms of David we have studied, Psalm 145 is a triumphant psalm of praise, and its central focus is God’s character, and attributes. The psalm begins with David promising to praise the LORD every day, and forever (145:1-2).
You will notice the balance of the psalm answers that question (145:3-20). We should praise the LORD because He is great (145:3), strong (145:4), gracious and compassionate. He is patient and merciful (145:8). He supports the weak (145:14), sustains all who look to Him for help (145:15), and provides for every living thing (145:16). The LORD is righteous, and holy (145:17). When you call upon Him, He is near (145:18). He answers prayer (145:19), and preserves all who love Him (145:20).
Closing thoughts – No wonder David ended the psalm, resolving, “21My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever” (145:21).
David modeled for believers the manner in which we should worship the LORD. We should not mindlessly “go through the motions,” giving little thought to the words of our prayers, or the songs of our praise. We should consciously meditate upon the great truths God has revealed about His character, and attributes, allowing who He is to passionately, and energetically prompt us to praise His name.
Our Scripture reading continues in the Book of Psalms, and the titles of both Psalm 143 and Psalm 144 credit David as the author. Psalm 144 is a psalm of worship and praise, while Psalm 143 is a penitent, mournful psalm. Today’s devotional will be taken from the latter.
We have seen a pattern and practice of prayer throughout David’s life. When he was assailed by enemies, he prayed (Psalm 13:2; 61:3). When trials came and troubles threatened to engulf him, he prayed (Psalm 120:1). When he faced the scourge of the consequences of his sins, he called upon the Lord, confident He would hear, and answer his penitent prayer (Psalm 51).
Psalm 143 continues David’s practice of prayer and opens with the king calling upon the LORD for grace. He implored God, “Give ear to my supplications [plea for mercy]: In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness [remembering God is altogether righteous, and will only do that which is right and good]” (143:1).
Notice, David did not pray for justice, but for mercy. Why? Because no man or woman can be justified in the sight of a holy, just God. David intreated the LORD, “enter not into judgment with thy servant: For in thy sight shall no man living be justified” (143:2).
David did not identify the enemy who had caused him such consternation; however, he was certainly at a low place in life. The king enumerated the wickedness of his adversary, declaring he had been “persecuted…smitten…[and made to] dwell in darkness” (143:3). David confessed he was “overwhelmed…[and his] heart…desolate” (143:4).
Where do you turn when you feel overwhelmed, and depressed?
David prayed (143:1-4), and then he remembered “the days of old” (or we might say, “the good old days,” 143:5). He remembered better days, and as he meditated on the providences of God past (His ways and works), the king’s spirit was stirred, and he literally and figuratively, reached out to God and confessed, “My soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah” (143:6). The LORD wants believers to have that same passion and longing, and to realize only He can satisfy the longing of a thirsty soul.
Notice the personal nature of David’s prayer to the LORD: “Hear me speedily (143:7)…Open my hearing to “thy lovingkindness” (143:8)…Reveal to me “the way wherein I should walk” (143:8)…Deliver me (143:9)…Teachme to do thy will” (143:10)…Lead me into the land of uprightness” (143:10)…”Quicken [revive] me” (143:11)…and Save me “out of trouble” (143:11). We do not know what “trouble” David was facing; however, he was in a place that only the LORD could deliver his soul from sorrows (143:11b).
Closing thoughts – Because you live in a sin-cursed world, it is inevitable that you will cross paths with an adversary; one who savors your sorrow, and is a trouble to your soul.
Where do you turn when troubles come? Many allow troubles to mount up until they resort to counselors, psychologists, prescription drugs, vices, and amusements.
What did David do? He turned to the LORD, cried for mercy (143:1-2), assessed his circumstances (143:3-4), and then he remembered. He remembered better days, and the ways and works of God (143:5). He reminded the LORD, “I am thy servant” (143:12), for he remembered the LORD is jealous for His servants’ sake (143:12).
Psalm 139 is titled, “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David,” and in my opinion, is one of the most profound of all the psalms. Some of the foundational doctrines of our faith are declared here, including the revelation that God is Omniscient (139:1-6), Omnipresent (139:7-12), and He is mankind’s Originator, meaning our Creator (139:13-16).
How important are those doctrines? They are essential, fundamental principles to the faith of all Bible believers. You see, what we believe concerning God’s attributes will dictate the answer to critical life questions: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Where am I going?” There is, within the heart of man, a longing for purpose, and a desire to find answers to those questions.
In the 19th century, Charles Darwin, a man who had rejected God as Creator, traveled the world seeking an alternative explanation for life, and the physical universe. The result was a book he titled, “Origin of Species” (1859), and a proposition that the world and life as we know it is the result of evolution. Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, though rejected as impossible by many credible scientists, has continued to be taught as “science” in secular education institutions. Tragically, several generations of students have grown up under the influence of Darwinian evolution, and failed to grasp it is an unsubstantiated theory that demands blind faith. To date, not one proof of a species evolving to a different species has ever been discovered (nor ever will)!
What does the Bible reveal in this matter of God, and man?
God is Omniscient, and He knows all that is in the heart of man (139:1-6).
The LORD knows our fears, longings, thoughts, and desires (139:1a). There is nothing concealed from Him (139:2). He knows our secrets, our ways, and every word we have ever uttered (139:2b-4). He also savors the noble qualities of our life (139:5-6).
God is Omnipresent (139:7-12). He abides in every part of his creation, and there is not a place where God is not present (139:7-8).
Psalm 139:7-8 – “Whither shall I go [walk; come] from thy spirit [God’s Spirit]? or whither shall I flee [i.e., be put to flight] from thy presence [face; countenance]? 8 If I ascend up into heaven [i.e., the sky above; the stars and planets], thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol; grave; pit; place of the souls of the dead], behold, thou art there.”
Because He is omnipresent, we are never beyond the LORD’S protection, love, or mercies (139:9-10). We can take flight, but we will never be beyond His grasp.
Psalm 139:9-10 – “If I take[depart; carried away on] the wings of the morning[dawn; first beams of morning light], and dwell[abide; remain; inhabit] in the uttermost parts [end; last] of the sea; 10 Even there[flight as fast as light or the depths of the sea]shall thy hand[power] lead[guide; bring] me, and thy right hand[i.e. considered to be the stronger side]shall hold[take hold; possess; handle; grasp] me.”
When the darkest hour of life is upon you, the light of the Lord is with you (139:11-12).
Psalm 139:11-12 – “If I say[speak], Surely the darkness[i.e. misery] shall cover[bruise; break; overwhelm] me; even the night shall be light[day; light] about me. 12 Yea, the darkness[i.e. misery] hideth[obscures] not from thee; but the night shineth[shines; enlightens; gives light] as the day: the darkness[i.e. misery] and the light [luminous light] are both alike to thee.”
God is not only Omniscient and Omnipresent; He is also our Originator… Creator, Designer, Engineer, and Architect (139:13-16).
Psalm 139:13-16 reinforces one of the great “Right-to-Life” principles against abortion in the Scriptures. When we accept that God is Creator (Genesis 1:27), and the Giver of life (Genesis 2:7), and man is created in His image (a spiritual, eternal being), we must believe human life is sacred. Abortion is, therefore, an unconscionable evil; a sin against God and humanity.
God has sovereignly determined our uniqueness. (139:13)
Psalm 139:13 – For thou hast possessed[get; acquire] my reins[lit. kidneys; figuratively the mind; soul, seat of my desire and affections]: thou hast covered[knit; weave]me in my mother’s womb[belly; bosom; body].
Every man, woman, boy, and girl is unique. You are one of a kind, and there is none other like you. Modern science has proven just how unique you are. Did you know, your ears are geometrically unique to you, as is your body odor (secreting a combination of 44 compounds). Your fingerprints, and fingernails are unique with loops and swirls that form patterns that are distinctive to you. In fact, even the pores of your nose form a pattern like none other!
God has impressed on man’s soul a consciousness of his Creator’s hand and design. (139:14-15)
Psalm 139:14-15– “I will praise[give thanks] thee; for I am fearfully[amazingly]andwonderfully made[distinguish; uniquely; set apart]: marvellous[wonderful; extraordinary; surpassing] are thy works[labor; i.e. needlework; deeds]; and that my soul[life; person; being] knoweth[perceives; observes] right well[exceedingly; greatly]. 15My substance[strength; physical frame; bones and being] was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret[mother’s womb], andcuriously wrought[woven as a tapestry]in the lowest parts of the earth[out of human sight].
Just think about it, from the moment your were conceived, your person and days were determined (139:16).
Psalm 139:16 – Thine eyes did see[perceive; look; behold] mysubstance[body; frame; bones], yet beingunperfect[embryo; unformed mass in mother’s womb]; and in thy book[letter; scroll]all my members were written[described; lit. – all the days of my life were ordained], which incontinuance [day; time; continually] were fashioned [formed, as a potter; to mold], when as yet there was none [i.e. not the first] of them[before one day of my life was past].”
Closing thoughts – You are God’s unique creation and He knows you. He created you as a free will agent, and like Charles Darwin, you have the privilege and responsibility of your choices. Be forewarned: The ability to choose brings with it the consequences of that choice.
Remember: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
Today’s Scripture reading consists of two brief psalms by David. Psalm 131 was titled, “A Song of Degrees of David,” and was numbered among the psalms sung when the priests ascended the steps of the Temple Mount. Psalm 138 is titled, “A Psalm of David,” and its occasion is not given, although there is some speculation it may have been penned when he was a young man.
Leadership invariably invites accusations, and it seems this brief psalm was David’s answer to those who accused him of being proud, and out of his element as king. David did not answer his critics; however, he turned to the LORD after examining himself, and said: “1Lord, My heart is not haughty [proud], nor mine eyes lofty [haughty]: Neither do I exercise [pry] myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” (131:1).
The king contended, “2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself [contented], As a child that is weaned of his mother: My soul is even as a weaned child [not fretting or protesting]” (131:2). The psalm ends with David expressing his confidence in the LORD, saying, “3Let Israel hope [a waiting expectation] in the Lord from henceforth and for ever” (131:3).
Closing thoughts – How do you answer critics? Follow David’s example, and first examine your heart to see if your critics have a basis for their reproach. Should you find you are innocent, take your sorrows to the LORD, and rest in the shadow of His compassion and promises; but if you are guilty, you must humbly repent before the Lord.
An Offering of Praise, Leaving No Reserves (138:1-3)
David does not say simply, “I will praise thee, but “I will praise thee with my whole heart” (138:1). Every ounce of his being was committed to unashamedly worshipping the LORD. He promised to praise the LORD for His “lovingkindness” (favor, and goodness), and “truth” (faithfulness and honesty, 138:2). The king had experienced the LORD’s faithfulness, and when He cried to the LORD, He not only answered his prayers, but He strengthened his soul (138:3).
David hoped his praise and testimonies of the LORD might influence other “kings of the earth” to have faith in God (138:4). He longed for others to join him in singing of the ways, and providences of the LORD: “For great is the glory of the LORD” (138:5).
Three things regarding the LORD comforted David. The first, “though the LORD be high,” He favors the lowly, and distances Himself from the proud (138:6).
David was also comforted by the presence of the LORD in times of trouble (138:7). He had found God restrains the wicked in their wrath, and He saves His people.
Psalm 138 concluded with a verse that is one of the great promises of God’s providential work and oversight of His people. David wrote, “8The Lord will perfect[complete]that which concerneth me [the LORD knows what is best for His children]: Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: Forsake not the works of thine own hands”(138:8).
Closing thoughts – A thousand years after David penned Psalm 138:8, the apostle Paul wrote: “28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
What a wonderful truth! God is not only orchestrating events in the lives of those who love Him for their good, but He is with them to accomplish His purpose. And what is God’s plan and purpose? It is that His children would “be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
I don’t know if you are in the midst of trials, and troubles; however, I assure you that the LORD’s mercies will never fail, and He will not forsake His children, for we are the “works of [His] hands” (138:8).
Continuing the census and organization of the men of the tribe of Levi that began in 1 Chronicles 23, “David and the captains of the host” arranged the musicians who would minister in the worship of the Temple. David was intimately involved in the music of the Tabernacle, and the organization of the music ministry in the Temple. As both a poet and musician, the king understood the important role music would have in worshipping the LORD.
Three primary Levitical families are identified (25:1): “the sons of Asaph (25:2), and of Heman (25:4-5), and of Jeduthun (25:3).” The sons of those families were described as “separated to the service…who should prophesy [i.e., inspire by song] with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals” (25:1).
David appointed the sons of Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun to serve in the ministry of music (25:1). Heman stands out not only as a chief musician, but “God gave to [him] fourteen sons and three daughters” (25:5). Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, evidently were excellent musicians, passing their skills to their children who served under their father’s direction “in the house of the Lord, with cymbals, psalteries, and harps, for the service of the house of God” (25:6). Altogether, there were 288 musicians who were described as “instructed [taught] in the songs of the Lord, even all that were cunning [skilled]” (25:7).
Of course, as noted earlier, there were 4000 singers and musicians whom David appointed to “offer praises to the LORD (23:5). These were divided by lot into twenty-four companies who ministered in the Temple in the morning and evening (25:8-31)
Closing thoughts – Worshipping the LORD was central to Israel as a nation, and the music ministry had an essential role. The orchestra and choir consisted of Levites whose lives were dedicated to ministering daily in the Temple.
The 21st century church would be wise to return to that standard, and remember the responsibility of those who minister in music was to “prophesy,” literally to inspire by word and song.
Godly character and musicianship were essential for those who ministered in music before the LORD and His people.
The opening verses of 1 Chronicles 23 remind us that “David was old and full of days” (23:1). Accepting his death was imminent, the king left no doubt who should be his successor: “He made Solomon his son king over Israel” (23:1).
I admire David’s heart for the LORD. Resigning his role as king, he turned the affairs of state over to his son, and devoted his last days to organizing the priests and Levites who would serve in the Temple (23:2-32; 24:1-31).
A census of Levi found there were 38,000 heads of house who were thirty years and older (23:3). The organization of the Levites was stated by their tasks: 24,000 men were to assist the priests; 6,000 would serve as “officers and judges” (23:4).
There were 4,000 men who would be porters or keepers of the doors of the Temple (23:5), and another 4,000 that were musicians (23:5). It was their calling to praise the LORD with “the instruments” David had apparently provided (23:5).
Various Levite families are named, including those whose lineage were notable: The sons of Levi, “Gershon, Kohath, and Merari (23:6), and “sons of Amram,” of whom was born “Aaron and Moses” (23:13). Particular mention of Aaron is made, for he and his sons were high priests, and were sanctified (i.e., set apart) “to burn incense before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name for ever” (23:13).
David charged the Levites to serve the LORD on behalf of Israel (23:24-31), assist the sons of Aaron with daily sacrifices, and “in the service of the house of the LORD” (23:32).
1 Chronicles 24 recorded the “divisions of the sons of Aaron” (24:1), and their order. We find twenty-four classes of priests identified in this chapter, and David was attentive to the names (24:2-3), and offices of those who would serve in the Temple (24:4-31).
The list of names in today’s Scripture reading might seem unimportant, especially three thousand years after they were recorded; however, their offices and tasks as spiritual leaders is instructive for us. Their ministries in the Temple were prominent enough that even the king dedicated himself to their assignments.
Closing thoughts – David was old, but his fervor for the LORD had not abated.
He had been denied the opportunity to build a great house for the LORD; however, he poured himself into preparing his son for the task. In other words, the frailty of old age had not robbed him of his desire to serve the LORD.
We would be wise to take a page out of David’s biography: Not only count our days, but make our days count!
Wise men “number” [prepare; count] the days of their lives and, like David, “apply [lit. pass on] [their] hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Today’s Scripture reading considers two psalms by David. Psalm 109, titled, “To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David,” was intended to be a song for worship, praise, and thanksgiving to the LORD. Psalm 110, was titled simply, “A Psalm of David.”
Both of the psalms are often referred to as Messianic psalms, each carrying an immediate and prophetic application. For instance, Psalm 109 is identified by some as the “Iscariot Psalm,” noting there is much in the psalm that gives us a prophetic picture of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ, the Messiah King. Our devotional will be taken from Psalm 109.
Psalm 109 gives us an agonizing testimony of a king who had known the sorrow and disappointment of betrayals. Like Christ who suffered the betrayal of Judas, and the denials of Peter, David suffered many disloyalties in his lifetime. King Saul, provoked by jealousy, turned against David and would have killed him. Absalom led an insurrection against his father, and Ahithophel, one of David’s trusted advisors, betrayed him and cast in his lot with his son. Shimei, a Benjamite, cursed David, and hurled stones and accusations against the king as he fled his palace in Jerusalem. I will suggest a brief outline of Psalm 109.
The psalm begins with David appealing to the LORD saying, “Hold not thy peace” (i.e., don’t be silent, 109:1). He then describes the sins of his enemies: slander, lies, deceit (109:2), and unprovoked hatred (109:3).
What was David’s response to the injustices he suffered? He prayed (109:4), and protested the cruelty of his enemies, saying, “they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love” (109:5).
A Prayer of Judgment Against One’s Enemies (109:6-20)
David, professed his virtue, and appealed to God to judge his enemies for their injustices. In the manner of an imprecatory prayer, David prayed: Let the wicked be judged by their own (109:6-7). Let his “days be few; and let another take his office” (109:8). After Judas betrayed Jesus, he hanged himself (Matthew 27:5), and fulfilled this prophecy. His days were few, and thus a believer named Matthias, took his apostleship (109:8; Acts 1:20-26).
The children and household of the wicked fall under the shadow of God’s judgment. David prayed, let the children of the wicked “be fatherless” and suffer loss (109:8-9). Let their estate fall victim to extortioners (109:11), and lineage be soon cut off (109:12-13). May the children of the wicked bear the curse, and judgment of their father’s sins (109:14-15).
What manner of men are the wicked? They lack compassion for the needy, and curse the innocent. They are resentful when others prosper (109:16-17). Predictably, they fall victim to their sinful ways, and their shame will be inevitably displayed for all to see (109:18-19).
A Prayer of Hope, Praise, and Thanksgiving (109:21-31)
Turning his focus from the wickedness of his enemies and the injustices he had suffered, David appealed to the LORD to make him the object of His mercy (109:21). Praying with a broken heart, David pled for compassion, and confessed his unworthiness, saying, “I am poor and needy; and my heart is wounded within me” (109:22). The king’s sorrows made him appreciate the brevity of life, and that it is like the passing of a shadow (109:23). Although he was king, he had become the object of scorn, and like those who mocked Christ when He was dying on the Cross, David’s enemies reproached him, and “[shook] their heads” (109:25).
Closing thoughts – David called on the LORD to be merciful, that His mercies might be a testimony to his enemies (109:26-27). He reasoned, he could accept the curses of his enemies, as long as he knew the LORD would bless him (109:28). The psalm closes with David resolving, though his enemies assailed him, he was confident the LORD would stand at his right hand (Hebrews 8:1; 10:12; 12:2), and save him from all who condemned him (109:30-31).
Psalm 108, is “A Song or Psalm of David,” as stated in its title, and is an unusual psalm. While the themes contained in the psalm are like many we have studied (praise and thanksgiving), it is actually a combination of portions from two other psalms. Psalm 108:1-5 is practically a reiteration of Psalm 57:7-11, and Psalm 108:6-13 is nearly identical to Psalm 60:5-12. It would be speculation on my part to ascertain the purpose for the repetition. I am satisfied the verses are repeated because its message was dear to the heart of the king, and fulfilled the LORD’s purpose.
David declared, “O God, my heart is fixed” (108:1). The “heart” of man in Scripture is more than a physical organ; in its broadest sense, the “heart” refers to the mind, thoughts, and the seat of emotions within man.
Upon what was David’s heart fixed? He had determined his heart and affections would not waver from his purpose to “sing and give praise, even with my glory [honor; riches]” (108:1). Not only would he praise the LORD with his voice, but also on musical instruments: “2Awake [stir up], psaltery [lute; i.e., guitar] and harp: I myself will awake early [at dawn]” (108:2). He would unashamedly praise the LORD among his people, and “sing praises unto [God] among the nations” (108:3).
What had stirred David to passionately praise the LORD? It was the knowledge that the LORD’S mercy (lovingkindness and favor) was boundless; His truth, and faithfulness reached “unto [and beyond] the clouds” (108:4). Unable to contain his enthusiasm for the LORD, David exclaimed, “5Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: And thy glory above all the earth” (108:5).
Praying for Israel, David implored the LORD, “6That thy beloved [Israel] may be delivered [rescued]: save [Help] with thy right hand, and answer me” (108:6).
I am unsure what occasioned the king’s prayer, and who was a threat to the people, but David found courage in the LORD, writing: “7God hath spoken in his holiness [sacredness; i.e., sanctuary]; I will rejoice [triumph; be jubilant]” (108:7). Even before his prayer had been answered, he was confident the LORD would give him victory.
He planned as though his prayer had been fulfilled, saying, “I will divide Shechem [border town of Manasseh and Ephraim], and mete out the valley of Succoth [city on the east side of Jordan]. 8Gilead is mine [land east of Jordan, known for pastures]; Manasseh is mine [son of Joseph, and the tribe divided on the east and the west of Jordan]; Ephraim [youngest son of Joseph; land east of Jordan] also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver [royal tribe of David]” (108:7b-8).
David Foresaw the Heathen Would be Subject to His Reign. (108:9-10)
“Moab is my washpot [son of Lot; land was east of Dead Sea]; Over Edom [i.e., Esau’s lineage; land south of Dead Sea] will I cast out my shoe; Over Philistia will I triumph [south of Palestine on Mediterranean Sea]. 10Who will bring me into the strong city [fortified, walled city]? Who will lead me into Edom [land south of Dead Sea]?” (108:9-10)
Moab, Edom, and the Philistines had been enemies of Israel. David, by faith, believed the LORD would bless Israel, and their adversaries would become subservient to his rule. Moab would become so vanquished, they would be like a washpot for washing one’s feet. Edom, would suffer the indignity of shame and defeat. Philistia, against whom David had waged war from his youth, would fall to Israel, and no walled city could stand with the LORD on his side.
David Appealed to the LORD to Be with Him (108:11-13)
“11Wilt not thou, O God, who hast cast us off [reject; expel]? And wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts [army on military campaign]?” (108:11) David was confident the LORD was his only source for help, and confessed he dare not place his faith in man:
“12Give us help from trouble [enemy; attack]: For vain [worthless; futile] is the help of man.” David asserted his confidence in the LORD, saying, “13Through [with] God we shall do valiantly [power; strength; courage]: For he it is that shall tread down [trample] our enemies” (108:13).
Closing thoughts –You may not be facing a mortal enemy who desires to destroy you, but all believers face trials that challenge them to determine where they will turn, and whom they will trust. Some turn to fear, and flee. Some trust in men, only to find they are unable or unwilling to help.
David, gave us a model of overcoming faith. He fixed his heart on God, determined to sing and praise Him (108:1-4), and believed the LORD would give him victory (108:13).
Today’s Scripture readings are parallel accounts of the same tragic event. David commanded a census be taken, numbering the warriors in Israel. Because 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 are essentially mirror images of the same events, I will take today’s devotional from each.
David was an old man, and the shepherd boy of Bethlehem was a long past memory. Now in the latter years of his life and reign, the king made a proud, foolish decision and commanded, “Go, number Israel and Judah,” and in doing so provoked the “anger of the LORD…against Israel” (24:1). From where, or whom, did this provocation arise? The writer of 2 Samuel states, “he moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah” (24:1).
Who was “he?” The historian of 1 Chronicles revealed the inspiration for numbering the people was the Satan. We read, “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). How did this happen? Why would a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), find it his heart to do that which was contrary to the will of God? Various explanations might be put forward, but I suggest the central one is PRIDE. Satan targeted a “dead ringer,” a common area of weakness for most men, and provoked the natural inclination of the proud king’s heart.
Satan had provoked the natural inclination of a proud king’s heart.
“Joab, the captain of the host (i.e. army),” questioned the king’s motive for the census (24:3; 1 Chronicles 21:3), appealing to him with gracious words, saying, “Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (24:3) Joab knew the king’s command was a provocation of God’s judgment, and suggested, “The Lord make his people an hundred times so many more as they be…why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:3; 2 Samuel 24:3).
The census lasted nine months and twenty days, and when the number was given, David’s heart was convicted, and he prayed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly” (24:10).
Though the king confessed numbering the people was a great sin, nevertheless, God’s nature would not dismiss the consequences of his sin. We read, “the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer” (24:11). David was mercifully given the opportunity to choose which of three judgments would befall him and Israel (21:10-12): Seven years of famine, three months of being overrun and pursued by adversaries, or three days of pestilence (24:12-13). David chose three days of pestilence, reasoning he would rather trust in God’s mercies, than fall into the hand of an enemy (24:14).
2 Samuel 24:15 – “So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”
The angel’s path of death and destruction spanned Israel, slaying 70,000 men, but as he neared Jerusalem, “the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite” (1 Chronicles 21:15).
God did not repent of wrong doing, but in His mercy He changed His mind, and halted His judgment for David’s sin. David and the elders of Israel had called upon the LORD, and as the shepherd king of Israel, he prayed, “Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued” (1 Chronicles 21:17).
The prophet Gad returned with a message from the LORD, and instructed David to buy the “threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite (the Jebusites being the original inhabitants of Jerusalem)” and build an altar there (24:18).[Note – 1 Chronicles 21:18 names one “Ornan” as the owner of the threshingfloor; they are the same man.]
David purchased the threshing floor, and there he sacrificed to the LORD the oxen he had bought. According to 1 Chronicles 21:26, the LORD sent fire from heaven and consumed the oxen as a sign of that David’s offering had satisfied God’s wrath (1 Chronicles 21:26).
Closing thoughts – What became of the land David purchased? Let us take a moment for a brief lesson from history:
The threshingfloor of Araunah had been the place God had tried Abraham, and he had offered his son Isaac (Genesis 22). This was also the place the LORD promised Jacob, “I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). When Jacob awakened, “he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17). This same place would later be the site Solomon would build the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:1-2; 2 Chronicles 3:1).
Of course, it was not far from a place that would one day be beloved as Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified, suffered, and died for our sins, and the sins of the world.