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Take the Fourth Option

It was a bad day for King David. He had gotten carried away with his position of authority and the belief that he could make up the rules as he went. From the context of 1 Chronicles 21:1-17, it is obvious that God did not want the Kings of Israel to count how many soldiers and chariots they had. I believe it is because God wanted them to depend on Him rather than on their own resources and ingenuity. There is not a clear command in the Bible telling Kings not to do this but Joab’s response in verse 3 makes it clear that they all understood they were not supposed to do this.
David ignored the admonition of his commander and ordered the census. David was confronted with his poor decision and was told that he could choose from three options for his punishment:
Option 1: Three years of famine.
Option 2: Three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you.
Option 3: Three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.
[Side note: this is a good example for any of you raising teenagers. Giving them the option of deciding on their discipline is an effective way to get teens to take more ownership of their growth.]
Anyway, these are three of the worst options I can imagine. You can choose bad, really bad or worse. This is the way it is when we make poor decisions and then have to figure out how to clean it up. This is different than the setbacks of life that happen because we live in an imperfect world. God gives grace in those situations and brings deliverance. When we have deliberately been proud, though, God will faithfully bring his discipline.
There is a fourth option, however. David could have listened to his friend, Joab. David knew what was right but he had lost focus. In a moment of foolishness, he believed he could get away with what he shouldn’t do. God graciously sent Joab to tell David, “Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” (v. 3) If David had taken this advice to heart, he would never have had to choose from the terrible three.
What a challenge. Each of us will be faced with decisions this week. If we can decide to do the simple, straightforward will of God, we can deliver ourselves from a lot of heartache. May God grant us the wisdom to know His will and the willingness to choose His ways.

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