Day 15

Preparations for the Temple

from the reading plan

1 Chronicles 21:1-30, 1 Chronicles 22:1-19, Deuteronomy 12:1-5

Never are humans weaker than after great success. When we achieve things in life—even when it’s clear the blessings are from God—the great temptation is to claim the victories as our own. Pride, always lurking in the shadows of our sinful hearts, whispers subtle lies: “Look what you accomplished! Your innate strength and skill are enough to get the job done! When you rely on yourself, great things happen!”

King David was just as susceptible as we are. After his sweeping military victories against the nations surrounding Israel, which cemented his reign and greatly expanded Israel’s borders, David grew proud. So he ordered a nationwide census. His motivation, it seems, was to gauge the strength of his fighting forces (1Chronicles 21:5). Perhaps he wanted that information to further expand his territory. Even Joab, David’s ambitious general who committed vengeful murders and had anger problems, knew this was wrong (v.3)! What’s more, there’s no indication that David ordered a related tax, which God had commanded that any census must be to help finance the tabernacle and remind His people of their great need for Him (Exodus 30:11–16).

God’s punishment was a withering pestilence. As 70,000 Israelites fell, David lifted his eyes above Jerusalem. He saw an even more terrifying sight: a mighty angelic warrior suspended, hovering with sword drawn, awaiting God’s command to raze the city. David immediately “fell facedown” and pleaded for divine pardon (1Chronicles 21:16–17).

God mercifully relented and commanded David to “set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite” (v.18). David speedily obeyed. Imagine the humbled, frightened king—realizing he had come so close to a national catastrophe—hiking up his royal robes and hightailing it to Ornan’s place! 

There, at God’s command, David purchased what was to become the future temple site. David, being a king of war, would not build the temple. That honor would fall to David’s son, Solomon. However, that didn’t stop dear ol’ dad from setting up his boy for success! Before his death, David amassed a staggering amount of wealth and building materials for the temple construction, including “3,775 tons of gold, 37,750 tons of silver, and bronze and iron that can’t be weighed” (1Chronicles 22:14).

In ordering the census, David blundered greatly. In other words, he was just like us! We, too, are prone to the puffiness of pride and self-reliance. But David was also a man after God’s heart—willing to admit his sins, repent and seek forgiveness. He loved worshiping the God who redeems us from our sins and sovereignly works amidst our faults. Even when David couldn’t build God’s temple, he helped build God’s temple!

Is that our commitment to worshiping God? Are we quick to fall facedown before Him and repent of our sinful pride? Do we pursue Him wholeheartedly? Do we worship Him whenever and however possible?

Dear Lord, may it be so!

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