March 6 I Wednesday
“Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.”’” —2 Samuel 24:11-12
David not only enjoyed a wonderful working relationship with God, but an intimate one in which he expressed a deep love for God, as seen in many of his writings that comprise a portion of Scripture. It is a relationship of the heavenly Father to a son. As a good father, when a child acts in rebellion and sins, God will bring discipline and correction. As a parent, we know it can be harmful to our children to minimize discipline with just a tap on the wrist. We discipline because we love them.
After taking the census of fighting men, God pronounced His judgment on David and gave him three options to choose from. The first one was three years of famine that would strike the land; the second, three months of being pursued by his enemies; and the third was suffering three days of a deadly plague. David fell into deep distress over this choice, and he chose the shortest option: three days of plague. In those three days, 70,000 people died of a highly infectious disease.
The point of this discipline was not to teach David never to take a census again. God reaches into the much deeper issue of where David was placing His dependence. The discipline of God was to weaken physically, materially and emotionally the resource that David had turned to. No matter which option David had chosen, it would have put a large dent into the number of fighting men under David’s command. The purpose behind God’s discipline is never to bring us into greater resources or abilities but to bring us into greater trust and dependence on Him.
Though often painful, the discipline of God will open our eyes to how imperative it is that we live in a spirit of dependence on God and humility before Him. Jesus said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). Once we have begun to place our dependence on something other than God, we are actually crediting ourselves with having a better plan and a better way that will reap a better outcome. God will then leave us to it, and it is usually when we come to grips with the realization, “I cannot do it,” that we turn back to God.
The wonderful thing is God hears us and is always gracious and forgiving to the one who says, “I need You, Lord.” It is when we learn to surrender completely to God that we are secure in Him because we live under the divine providence of a sovereign God who knows exactly what He is doing.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, You are my strength, my rock and my refuge. Keep me consciously aware of that and living every day in utter dependence on You. Thank You, Lord.