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Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, Yujin wrote,

For three chapters we read how David defeated the Philistines, the Moabites, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Arameans, and any number of other nations. None could stand against David in battle. He even defeated the giants of Gath. But then we read,

Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1).

In the days of Moses, Balak, the king of Moab, hired Balaam to curse Israel, but instead of curses he gave blessings. Only when Balaam enticed Israel to sin, did Balak get the advantage and 24,000 of Israel were killed by the Lord.

In the same way, no armies could defeat Israel when the Lord was defending them. Satan understood this and so enticed David to sin. As a result, 70,000 men of Israel were killed by God. 

The Bible gives these examples to remind us of the power of God. If God is for us, none can be against us (Romans 8:31). And it is a most terrible thing to have God against you (Hebrews 10:31).

Friends, I encourage you to keep your focus singular: Trust and obey God! Life does not need to be more complicated than that. If God is for you, you have nothing to worry about. No challenge will be too great. No enemy too strong. You will always prevail. And if you do not, understand that God has ordained it for your good and His greater glory. 


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Tuesday, May 16, 2017, Yujin wrote,

In the chapters leading up to chapter 21 we find this continuing refrain: "The LORD gave David victory wherever he went" (cf. 1 Chronicles 18:6,13). The LORD had established David as king over Israel (14:2). The LORD made the nations of the world fear him (14:17). The LORD promised the make David's name great like the names of the greatest men on earth (17:8). 

Now, when we come to chapter 21, we see David's confidence misdirected. He commands Joab to count the number of his troops so that he can assess the strength of his army against that of the enemy nations. Yet, David's victories were not the result of many and strong troops. Israel was outnumbered more than once in their battles but still won the victory. The exploits of his "mighty" men did not rest in their own might. Israel's ceaseless victories were not because of their superior swordsmanship or their military strategy.

For a moment David and Israel forgot the LORD and to Whom they should give all the glory for their successes, and so they would have to learn a painful lesson. God gives David a choice of punishment: famine, sword or plague. These very choices would help David and Israel to understand that the LORD was sovereign. No amount of troops, military might, or superior strategy could save them from the wrath of God no matter the form it came. David and the people would learn to humble themselves before God and to put their confidence in Him alone and acknowledge that He is the Giver of victories. 

Friends, the sin of pride is bad and so is the sin of misirected trust. Let us not imagine that we have any good in ourselves apart from the grace of God. Let us not put any confidence in our knowledge and ability, our money and family, or anything besides the grace of our God, who has created us and saved us so that we might glory in Him and in Him alone. So the Psalmist astutely writes, 

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

Our God is sovereign over all creation. He gives and He takes away. No blessing or calamity stands outside the realm of His control. Does God give us blessing and success. Let us praise Him. Does He bring calamity and failure. Let us rest and hope in Him. Yet, whether in blessing or calamity, let us remain faithful to worship Him alone. He will not share His glory with another, whether that "another" be troops, money, family, or our own ingenuity. Let us not forget the LORD but always acknowledge Him in everything. To Him be all the glory forever and ever. Amen!


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Friday, May 16, 2014, Yujin wrote,

Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1).

But 2 Samuel provides the divine motivation and God' hand in this event:

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah" (2 Samuel 24:1).

God never answer's David's complaint in view of God's killing of 70,000 in Israel:

David said to God, “Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who has sinned and done very wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? O Lord my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s household, but not against Your people that they should be plagued" (1 Chronicles 21:17).

We have the insight from 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1 that God incited David against Israel, probably through Satan's agency, causing him to take a wrongful census of the people. It appears that God did this because He was angry with Israel, in order to punish them. We are not told the reason for His anger, but at least we know that God's anger was not simply against David.

We are also not told why God used the census as the pretense for punishing Israel. Could it be that the people and David were too self-confident? Perhaps they did not fear the LORD as they ought. These are all speculations, but clearly God was very angry, even enough to slay 70,000 of His own people. 

Friends, David was a man after God's own heart, yet God chose to keep even David in the dark about His motivation for judgment. The result on David of this whole turn of events was to instill in him a terror of God:

But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord (1 Chronicles 21:30).

I believe that while we are called to love the LORD with all our hearts, this does not preclude a healthy terror of Him as well. After all, Paul commands, "As you have always obeyed... continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).

If Paul had simply spoken of "fear,' we might argue that he only had "reverence" in mind, for "fear" is sometimes understood as respect or reverence. But he deliberately adds "trembling," so that we might understand that along with respect, there is a place for terror as well. 

In David's case, just in a few short chapters we find David twice being terrified of God. First, in the event of Uzzah. Then in this encounter with the Angel of the LORD. 

Friends, it is right to both love and fear the LORD; to adore Him and, at the same time, to be terrified by Him; to be deeply moved by a God, who sacrificed His own Son to save our souls, while, at the same time, to be shaken by events like the Great Flood, the total annihilation of the Amalekites, and this indiscriminate destruction of 70,000 people in Israel. 

Let us trust Him for His great love for us, and let us obey Him with fear and trembling. 


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Thursday, May 16, 2013, Yujin wrote,

And the Lord helped David wherever he went (1 Chronicles 18:6b, 13b).

But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was terrified by the sword of the angel of the Lord (1 Chronicles 21:30).

Friends, in these passages we see both the power of God and the terror of God. I remember how C.S. Lewis presented the Lord in his book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Jesus was represented as the lion Aslan. The kids ask the beavers whether Aslan was "safe." 

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Is the Lord safe? Of course He isn't safe. The angel of the LORD, which I take as the pre-incarnate Christ, decimated 70,000 Israelites. No wonder David was terrified. 

But God is good. He fulfills His covenant promises. He helped David against all his enemies, so that his throne and kingdom were secure. 

Our God is both good and terrifying. This is the God that we both love and fear. So then, how should we respond to such a great and terrifying God? Paul writes,

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

 


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012 (Last Updated on 5/16/2013), Yujin wrote,

When King Toi of Hamath heard that David had destroyed the entire army of King Hadadezer of Zobah, he sent his son Joram to congratulate King David for his successful campaign. Hadadezer and Toi had been enemies and were often at war. Joram presented David with many gifts of gold, silver, and bronze. King David dedicated all these gifts to the LORD, along with the silver and gold he had taken from the other nations—from Edom, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, and Amalek. (1 Chronicles 18:9-11 NLT)

Did you notice what David did when congratulatory gifts were given to him? He dedicated all of them to the LORD. What is more, he dedicated all the silver and gold taken from all his military conquests to the LORD. Did he keep any of it for himself? Apparently not. 

What does this dedication signify? By dedicating these gifts to the LORD, David was acknowledging that God gave him the victories in battle. He was giving credit to God. In fact, we are told that "the LORD made David victorious wherever he went" (1 Chronicles 18:13). So you can imagine that he dedicated a lot of gold and silver to the LORD. Perhaps there is a connection between these God-given victories and David's dedication of the spoils of war.

When Elisha healed Naaman, the Aramean commander, he refused to take any reward for it because he was acknowledging to this formerly unbelieving commander that the LORD had healed him. Thus, both Elisha and David bore witness to the power of God. They were redirecting praise to God.

In the New Testament, Peter heals a man that was lame from birth. [Just as an aside, isn't it interesting how the Bible takes such pains to document the condition of those healed, showing that their malady was both widely and clearly known? In contrast, the undocumented "healings" today seem almost farcical.] Back to the point, when Peter heals this man, everyone is amazed. But look what Peter says to them:

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes. (Acts 3:12, 16 NLT)

Peter redirects the praise away from himself to Jesus. 

I represented a couple some time ago that was trying to sell their business but had some difficulty doing so. I prayed diligently that God would sell this business. And it was sold shortly thereafter. So I took the sale, and even the sum for which we sold it, as an answer to my prayers. In order to acknowledge God, I took no commission from this sale but asked that the money be given in offering to God. This is my perhaps crude contemporary application of the principle of acknowleding God in our lives. 

Now I think it is a good practice to redirect praise to God for everything, and not simply for direct answers to prayer. For He gives us our minds to apply wisdom. He gives us our strength to achieve results. Is there anything good from which God is not either directly or indirectly involved? No. This is why we also read,

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NLT)

So we also read in the Law:

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:17, 18 TNIV)

So it is right to always redirect praise to God, for He enables us to do every good thing and achieve every success. That is why we are also commanded,

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 TNIV)

This then is how we ought to live. Always redirecting praise to God. This turns every occasion of our lives as an opportunity to testify to God's power in us. So Peter writes,

If you speak, you should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If you serve, you should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11 TNIV)

I write this as a word not just for us laymen but for professional ministers as well. When people give you praise for a good message, do you redirect the praise to God? Even when members give you special gifts apart from your annual salary, it would be wise to dedicate these things to the Lord rather than enjoy them yourselves. After all, are we trying to exalt ourselves or God? I hear that in Korea some of the most renown pastors are chauffered in limos and live in luxury. I fear that the Lord will pronounce this word of judgment on them: "They have received their reward in full (in this life)" (Matthew 6:2,5).

We skipped over this portion in the current series in 1 Corinthians, but I think it is important for ministers and laymen alike to consider it. In his typical sarcastic manner, by which he rebukes his self-centered readers, Paul shares his personal testimony of ministry:

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. (1 Corinthians 4:9-13 TNIV)

From beginning to end Paul testifies that his ministry was one of poverty and suffering. This hardly characterizes the contemporary church ministry. I am not saying every ministry should be poor or suffer in this way; however, sometimes I wonder if we have lost our focus. Let us diligently set our hearts on treasures above and make every effort to redirect all praise and glory to God. 


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Tuesday, May 17, 2011, Unmi wrote,
 
During Hezekiah's reign, the prophet Isaiah spoke words of judgment after the king in his pride revealed the storehouses of his treasures to the Babylonian envoys.  

Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD.  And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." "The word of the the Lord you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?" (2 Kings 20:16-19)

Many generations prior to Hezekiah, David had a similar experience. In his pride, David took a census of all the fighting men of Israel. The prophet Gad delivers words of judgment from the LORD. 

So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”...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.” (1 Chronicles 21:11-12,17)

It is no wonder that every king after David is compared to him and everyone falls short in comparison. The heart of David and Hezekiah are remarkably different.  David cares for his people and pleads with the LORD for judgment to fall only on him and not his flock. Hezekiah essentially says OK Lord, as long as I'm OK, bring whatever judgment you want on the people!

As long as we are on this earth, we will all struggle with sin.  However, are we humble and broken before the LORD when we are confronted by our sins?  David was a man after God's own heart because of his "broken and contrite heart." (Psalm 51:17) He humbled himself before the LORD and was willing to accept the consequences of his own guilt instead of passing it on to others. 

We now have a king even greater than David who instead of bearing the consequences of his own guilt for he had none, took upon himself the iniquities of our transgressions.
 
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, 
   he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that 
brought us peace was on him, 
   and by his wounds we are healed. 
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, 
   each of us has turned to our own way; 
and the LORD has laid on him 
   the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:5-6)

 Praise be to our LORD and Savior, Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, "for he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors."


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Monday, May 16, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends,

What a remarkable passage! You would think that after ten, perhaps even twenty times, reading through passages like this, it would wear old and become boring. But for me it has been just the opposite. As I read, my heart raced, my eyes grew watery, and something in me was stirred to be even more devoted to the LORD. The LORD has done this for me, and I am confident that you will have similar experiences of spiritual stirring as you meditate on His Word.

David says in 1 Chronicles 21:24, "I will not offer to the LORD that which costs me nothing." In order to stop the plague of God, God commands him to build an altar and sacrifice offerings. David seeks to purchase the land owned by Ornan to do this. Ornan is more than willing to give the land for free to David, along with everything he needs for the offerings. However, David wants to pay the full price. Why?

Could it be the same reason that God accepted Abel's offering and rejected the offering of Cain? Could it be the same reason that God requires sacrifices that are of the best of the flock and without any blemishes to be offered to Him? Could it be the same reason why Uzzah was killed for touching the ark of covenant, which was brought on a cart by non-Levites rather than on poles as prescribed by the Law? And is it not the same reason that Jesus says that the tax collector who humbled himself in prayer went home justified rather than the proud prayer of the Pharisee? The heart of worship is this: humility, obedience, and self-sacrifice. That is why David says, "I will not offer to the LORD that which costs me nothing." That is why Jesus commands those that would be His disciples to "deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me." This is why Paul also writes in Romans 12:1, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship."


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Monday, May 16, 2011, Stephen wrote,

David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd,j]">[j] 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.”

 

David's sin brought plague upon the Israelites and many people died. David realized what he had done and repented of his sin. Even though he made a mistake, I can see David's heart as a leader of the Israelites. He saw his people as subjects that must be ruled but as sheep that must be taken care of. We all have some type of leadership somewhere in our lives, esp. at home as a parent. Instead of forcing our children to be obedient with the mindset that the bible says so, we earn our respect from them by making a good example to be a follower of Christ.

 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matt 11:28-29)

 Let us become like Christ who is gentle and humble in heart and in whom people will find rest for their souls?


Passage: 1 Chronicles 18-21

On Sunday, May 16, 2010, Yujin wrote,

"And the LORD helped David wherever he went" (1 Chronicles 18:6, 13). And as for David, "he administered justice and righteousness for all his people" (1 Chronicles 18:14). From these verses we see that God was the source of David's victories, which he did for David because David continued to honor God's Name before the people.

In 1 Chronicles 20, we learn a lot about the conquest of giants, from the brother of Goliath to whole cities of giants, yet, this is the parallel to 2 Samuel 11, which records David's fateful sins, his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, Uriah. The Chronicles completely leaves out this odious episode in David's life, but we are meant to see it for perspective. Our greater adversary is not the physical giants but the spiritual ones that we must overcome. We are told "many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng" (Proverbs 7:26).

Chapter 21 is another amazing chapter, and again, we gain perspective from the parallel account in Samuel. In 2 Samuel 24:1 we read, "Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." Yet, here in 1 Chronicles 21:1 we read, "Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." Who was it, God or Satan or David? The correct answer is both and all, but ultimately God is behind all these things, even as Job recognized in his sufferings (cf. Job 23:13-16; 27:2; 30:11). In the matter of the census, while both Satan and David chose to pursue this evil and sinful path, it was God's will that it happen in the way that it did so that He could inflict punishment on Israel (2 Samuel 24:1). And when David complained about why God was judging Israel for his sins, David did not understand that God's intent was to harm Israel and not David. Yet, as readers we are meant to understand and so acknowledge the sovereignty of God in working everything in keeping with His will (cf. Psalm 139; Ephesians 1:11).