My devotions today where in 1 Chronicles 21. This is the story of the aftermath of David’s pride in taking a census of God’s people. As a result of this sin, God made David choose between 3 woes that were not to be poured out upon David alone but upon the Israelites (1Ch 21:11-12). We see here the seriousness of sin and the sovereignty of God over both Satan (1Ch 21:1) and our own sins (2Sa 24:1), yet we—as David—maintain moral responsibility for our own actions (1Ch 21:8). We see also that sacrifice must cost (1Ch 21:24), as religion that costs nothing is worth nothing (Luke 14:26, Luke 14:33, 1Jo 2:15, Luke 5:11). Yet these are not the particular things wherein I worshiped this morning. Instead I saw God in these:
The Fear of God (1Ch 21:20-21,23)
Ornan, who not only paid homage to David but was eager to donate his own property, was not an Israelite but a Jebusite: a people devoted unto destruction (Deu 20:17). Why was he so willing to help the cause of David? Because the fear of the LORD was upon him. He saw God’s sword and this compelled him to hide and to offer up his own property to his rightful enemy all in the name of appeasing such a God as this. Those who have seen God are willing to go to great lengths to assuage him and promote his causes. Would that God’s own people live up to the example set to us in this man. This is what the man acts like who sees Jesus as this man did.
Assuaged Wrath (1Ch 21:26)
Herein is the gospel thinly veiled: In the very time the wrath of God was pouring out upon the people of God as a result of David’s sin, God turned the force of his anger onto the sacrifice instead. So too with us: As a result of Adam’s sin did the anger of the LORD burn upon all (Rom 5:12), yet Christ in our place was consumed by the fire of the LORD that we might be reconciled to God (Rom 5:18). What a God is our God to hide his work for all to see.
Godly Zeal (1Ch 21:30)
Here we see the haste that the fear of God’s wrath put David to. Likewise, Aaron ran to make atonement for the Israelites (Num 16:47). When the wrath of God is the issue, we must make haste. Eternity is at stake. But what of God’s own law? There was one place alone where God permitted sacrifice to be made (Deu 12:13-14, Jos 22:29). Will God set aside his own law at times such as these? We would do well to remember that symbols are subservient to what they symbolize and thus not pit God against his own law. The altar was a symbol of the unity of worship, and that symbol cannot be made into the thing that opposes the worship which David was restoring. David’s altar, like Moses’ serpent (Num 21:8), was not raised in opposition to God’s law but for the fulfilling of it (Mat 5:17).
A Smiling Face (1Ch 22:1)
Here we see God’s smiling face that was hidden by a frowning providence. In the midst of all the woe and destruction God lays the foundation for his temple which will soon hold his glory. The eternal remembrance of this story will not focus on David’s sin nor on God’s wrath, but in God’s great kindness in giving his people a temple unto his own glory and unto their good. As the temple then was inaugurated by David, so now a cornerstone of the Church has been laid. It too was laid in the midst of sin and wrath. Yet those very things provide a backdrop that highlights the great grace of God in saving such as us. We see here God triumphing over all obstacles to save his people. He triumphs over sin. He triumphs over Satan. Never let us say then that anything is worth our faithlessness. These very things that tempt us to doubt will soon be cause for rejoicing—even our own sin.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. -William Cowper God Moves In A Mysterious Way