David’s military career began with the memorable victory over the Philistine giant! Just as God protected young David from the lion and bear, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies gave David victory over Goliath of Gath.
In David’s last battle, the old warrior fought the Philistines again. “David went down with his soldiers, and they fought the Philistines, but David became exhausted. Then Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giant, whose bronze spear weighed about eight pounds and who wore new armor, intended to kill David. But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to his aid, struck the Philistine, and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, ‘You must never again go out with us to battle’ ” (2 Samuel 21:15–17). It was the end of an era. The mighty old warrior, stooped by years, never saw the battlefield again.
During David’s long reign, Israel’s borders had been enlarged. Her enemies were defeated. God’s peace, like a soft blanket, lay over the land.
That’s when David sinned... again. “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, ‘Go and count Israel from Beer-sheba to Dan and bring a report to me so I can know their number’ ”. Joab tried to talk David out of it. “Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” (1 Chronicles 21:1–3).
Satan whispered in the king’s ear, “How many people are paying taxes in your kingdom? How many men serve in your military? David, you’re a bonified big-shot! You’re the biggest and the best!” Apparently, David believed it and his heart swelled with arrogance, pride, ego, self-importance...
“Then the Lord instructed Gad, David’s seer, ‘Go and say to David, “This is what the Lordsays: I am offering you three choices. Choose one of them for yourself, and I will do it to you... Take your choice: three years of famine, or three months of devastation by your foes with the sword of your enemy overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—a plague on the land, the angel of the Lord bringing destruction to the whole territory of Israel.” Now decide what answer I should take back to the one who sent me’ ” (1 Chronicles 21:9–12).
What would you choose? Three years of famine, three months of devastation, or three days of the sword of the Lord? I think David answered wisely. “David answered Gad, ‘I’m in anguish. Please, let me fall into the Lord’s hands because his mercies are very great’ ” (1 Chronicles 21:13).
David was old and experienced. He was the conquering king ruling over a vast kingdom. He was “a man after God’s heart!” He should have known better. So, true to His word, the sword of the Lord struck a devastating blow and “seventy thousand Israelite men died!” (I Chronicles 21:14). That’s a mighty high price!
I’m old and experienced too. I should know better. So, I must constantly pray, Lord Jesus, forgive me! By your grace, empty my heart of pride and self-importance and fill me with your presence. For your glory, make me a humble man who seeks God’s heart!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.