Todays readings.. 2 Samuel 24, Jeremiah 27, Mark 1
Today we read how David pressures Joab to find out how many fighting men he has. When David receives the final tally we read, “But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly” [2 Sam. 24 v.10]
David knew, indeed had experienced that God does not need a large number to accomplish his purpose, several Scriptures show this – even just one person is enough!
We pondered the mystery of the chapter’s opening words that “the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go number Israel …’” The mystery deepens in the parallel record in 1 Chron. 21 v.1 which says, “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.”
How are we to understand this? This is the first time ‘Satan’ occurs in our English Old Testament, but in the Hebrew text it has already occurred 8 times, usually being translated as “adversary” and naming who the adversary is! It makes an interesting study.
We start reading Mark’s Gospel today and saw what a remarkable impact John the Baptist had had! “All the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him” [1 v.5]. Paul on his travels, years later, encountered “about twelve men” in Ephesus who had been baptised by John.(Acts 19 v.3-7).
We read how that after John baptised Jesus and “the Spirit descending on him …” that “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness and he was … tempted by Satan” [v.10,12,13].
Let us meditate on this strange phraseology: we conclude that God in seeing what men, even men such as David, will do in moments of spiritual blindness. God allows it to happen; he sees how he can weave human weakness into his overall purpose – sometimes allowing human adversaries that test us. Only Jesus, using and quoting the word of God was able to conquer all his human inclinations, setting us an example of how we shouldcall an appropriate Scripture to mind – “it is written” – and in this way overcome the “Satan” within.
In Hebrews ch. 4 we learn that Christ “in every respect has been tempted as we are” [Hebrews 4 v.15]. Let us pray for support every day to resist the temptations to arise from our fleshly instincts. We note how Paul wrote and told the Hebrews to “lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely” [Heb. 12 v.1].
Finally, we see in 2 Chron. 32 v.31 how God allowed King Hezekiah to be tested! We learn that, “God left him to himself to test him and to know all that was in his heart”. It was the same with David – so that “David’s heart struck him.” On occasions this surely happens to us!