David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord , for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” – 2Sam. 24:14 NIV
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In an expression of anger by the Lord against Israel, the Almighty God had incited King David to take a census of the people and every attempt by Joab and the other army commanders to discourage this act by the king as it did not follow the laid down guidelines of the Lord failed – Exo. 30:12. They eventually went round the whole land of Israel in nine months and twenty days and came back with their report. There were eight hundred thousand fighting men in Israel and five hundred thousand fighting men in Judah – 2Sam. 24:1-9. It was only after the arrival of Joab from the exercise that the king became conscience-stricken and admitted before the Lord that he had sinned by doing a foolish thing, pleading that the Lord take away the guilt from him – 2Sam. 24:10.
The response of the Lord to the plea of King David came through the Prophet Gad who told the king that he would need to serve out punishment for his misconduct. He was to make a choice out of three options that the Lord presented to him. It was either going to be three years of famine in the land, or three months of him running from his enemies who will remain in his pursuit or three days of plague in the land – 2Sam. 24:11-13. The response of King David is the foundation text for today’s Devotional where he made it clear that he would prefer either the first or the last punishments have that involved all the people than the second option of him falling into the hands of his enemies who will be in his pursuit. This is because according to him, the mercy of the Lord is great – 2Sam. 24:14. By his choice, he had succeeded in spreading the punishment to all Israel.
Christians need to be very careful how they conduct themselves before the Lord else they may discover that the leaders the Lord chose to bring comfort to them may end up being the same leader that will bring the wrought of God on them. Such leaders will be quickly described as being very weak leaders, bad leaders or even as wicked but really, the followership especially that of Christians need to understand that every leadership is ordained by the Almighty God and every action taken by such leaders, especially Christian leaders are under the directives of the Most High. In today’s reference scripture, all that will be observed is the fact that it was King David that gave the order to transgress the instructions of the Lord, and so should have been the only one to bear the punishment for such an act but the bible made it clear that the King was acting under incitement of the Lord, an incitement that was due to the anger of the Lord against the people. The Almighty God would not have been angry if the people had not misbehaved in the first place. They, in actual fact led their king into the situation he found himself or how could he have been able to resist an incitement from the Lord.
When a group of people, especially Christians are undergoing the effect of bad leadership, they should do more of personal soul searching and assessment before pointing accusing fingers at the leadership. A people will always deserve the kind of leadership they get and every leader is ordained by God, not only to bring positive changes into the lives of the led but also to dispense the punishment of God – Rom. 13:1-5. The several instances of the Lord handing the Israelites over to other kings for oppression and maltreatment can be referenced here. The only difference in this case is that the Lord did not use an external power to administer punishment but used their king as the tool for their punishment.
The swift action of King David to spread the punishment under the guise of the Almighty God being great in Mercy is also worthy of mention. Although he it was that committed the offence, he promptly ensured the spread of the punishment in the choice he made. If it was about falling into the hands of enemies, the message of Prophet Gad was very clear. It was going to be only him running away from his enemies for three months with the enemies in pursuit, and the mercy of God would still have been available but he rather chose the punishment that will affect the people. That is the major difference between leadership of God and that of man. He was probably not ready to bear alone, the punishment for an act that the people had pushed him into. However, his reason for making the choice remains very correct and relevant now just as it was then. The point in that reason is what every Christian who is undergoing one form of pain and discomfort or the other, for wrongful acts, either due to personal errors or due to the error of a third party, should always remember. It is that the Almighty God is great in Mercy – Psa. 103:8-10; 145:8-9.
The Almighty God is indeed great in mercy and every Christian should remember this. No matter the extent of your sin, for as long as it is not a sin against the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31-32), there is Mercy available with Him that we may continue to revere and fear Him – Psa. 130:3-4. No matter how great the anger of the Lord may be, genuine remorse is what is required for Him to show mercy. The lord, even though he gets offended and angry about the wrong actions of men, also has sovereign powers to administer judgement and it is not His delight to see His children go through pain and distress. His reasons for administering punishment for transgressions is more to bring the transgressor back on line rather than for the pleasure of inflicting pain. The minute the individual shows remorse, He does not hesitate to forgive such transgressions.
All over the world today, many people including Christians are groaning under the effect of bad leadership but it is better for each person to do a honest introspection to determine whatever wrong may have been committed. The Lord will not allow His people to undergo needless punishment just as there is nothing that happens in a city that the Lord is not aware of – Lam. 3:37. If He allows that discomfort, it is for a purpose mostly an expression of His anger towards a wrong conduct. Rather than spend valuable time attacking and blaming the leaders, who are simply tools in His hands, get back to the Lord in prayer seeking his forgiveness and he will replace the period of distress with a new time of refreshing – Acts 3:17-21.
May that be your testimony very soon in Jesus name. Amen.