We are in the middle of a pandemic right now that many believe isn’t really a thing. Or maybe it is a “thing,” but since it isn’t their own particular thing . . . it’s not important and doesn’t matter. Over the last weekend, there were protests in different cities across the country by people who want social distancing to end because it’s time for them to get a hair cut. For others, it is the concern for the almighty economy that takes precedence over all.
Jesus said that you would know his followers by their love (John 13:35) and to care for the sick, the poor, and the foreigner. (Matthew 25:44-46) Unfortunately in this western nation with a heritage of Christian belief, we seem to have come to the conclusion that Jesus didn’t actually mean that we should think of others before we think of ourselves. (Philippians 2:3) It is just too much to ask to stay at home with electricity and internet . . . look at what it’s doing to the stock market . . . not to mention my golf game.
I mean, Jesus was just crucified . . . We’ve got to consider the economy.
This is a good time for a heart check for all of us.
Where are you putting your trust?
Are your priorities straight?
When David Chose the Plague
David was a man after God’s own heart, (1 Samuel 13:14) but even he made mistakes. We all remember Bathsheba, but there was also that time when he chose a plague.
2 Samuel 24:1-14 NIV
1 Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[a] with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”
3 But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.
5 After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6 They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7 Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.
8 After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.
10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 “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.’”
13 So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
14 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.”
How did God Punish David?
David’s heart had convicted him. He knew he had sinned and that there would be judgment. Then Gad came to him with a choice. David was able to choose: a long hard struggle for the entire community during seven years of famine; three months of trial and uncertainty for David alone, or three days of plague?
A period of famine would mean scarcity as well as a weakening of the might and importance of Israel. It could be that David was concerned about his citizens, but it seems to me that if that were really the case, that he would have chosen the judgment that fell on him alone . . . the three months of being pursued by his enemies.
So he chose the plague. Maybe he thought disease is uncertain and it wouldn’t be that bad. Maybe he thought, like U.S. citizens now fleeing to underground bunkers in New Zealand, that his wealth and the palace would keep him safe. Maybe he thought, “How bad can it be?” Three days is a short period of time.
So wealthy Americans are fleeing to New Zealand to hide out in their multi-million dollar bunkers. https://t.co/uFZty6VV9a
— Carla Alvarez (@RaisedtoWalk) April 20, 2020
He must have forgotten the history of his own people when in a single night, the firstborn of every family in Egypt was struck down by the Angel of Death.
And this is what he chose . . . that the Angel of Death would be loosed on his nation for not one day, but three.
Where the Angel of Death Stopped
15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” (2 Samuel 24:15-17 NIV)
In those three days, 70,000 people died, which is fairly close to the current estimate of projected deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. Seventy thousand from a population of 350 million. David’s kingdom had 1.3 million men of fighting age (2 Samuel 24:9) which wouldn’t include women, children, those too old for service, or the Levites. Some estimate the total population to have been around 5 million, so basically the population of today’s Greater Houston Metro area.
Seventy thousand out of 5 million, a 1.5% fatality rate out of the entire population. Doesn’t sound like a lot does it? Or the equivalent over everyone in my community dying. How about now?
A True Repentance
The death inflicted on his nation as a whole doesn’t seem to have affected David until he “saw the angel who was striking down the people.” It was only then that he truely repented and said:
I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong.
Yes, he had. Not only in disobeying and placing trust in his own might versus God, but in shirking the accountability for his own wrongdoing and allowing his people to take the punishment for him.
I am the Good Shepherd
What a contrast to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus said,
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 NIV)
David did wrong and his people, his sheep, took his punishment.
Jesus did no wrong and took the punishment for his sheep.
David was acting like a hired hand who had no concern for those in his care.
The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10:12)
This just shows that even those leaders who desire to serve God often fall into great mistakes.
It also illustrates just how great God’s love for us is. Jesus placed us and our welfare above his own.
My Sheep Hear My Voice
Today decide who your Shepherd is. Are you listening to his voice? (John 10:4) Are you following in his footsteps? (Matthew 16:24)
Are you placing your trust in your own power and resources or in God?
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)
 Seren Morris, “There Were Protests in Nine States Yesterday as Calls to End Stay-at-Home Orders Grow,” Newsweek, last modified April 20, 2020, accessed April 20, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/protest-lockdown-stay-home-orders-coronavirus-covid-19-texas-california-1498897.
Khaleda Ramman, “Some of the Signs Held by Protesters Calling for End to Coronavirus Lockdown Raise Eyebrows,” Newsweek, last modified April 20, 2020, accessed April 20, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/protesters-wave-signs-branded-dumb-ignorant-1498873.
Evie Fordham, “Coronavirus Lockdown Protests Expand to 20 States as Economic Woes Mount,” Text.Article, FOXBusiness (Fox Business, April 19, 2020), last modified April 19, 2020, accessed April 20, 2020, https://www.foxbusiness.com/money/coronavirus-lockdown-protests-maryland-pennsylvania-texas.
 Olivia Carville, “‘We Needed to Go’: Rich Americans Activate Pandemic Escape Plans,” Bloomberg.Com, April 19, 2020, accessed April 20, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-19/-we-needed-to-go-rich-americans-activate-pandemic-escape-plans.
The projected number of deaths from COVID-19 have been changing daily. As of April 20, 2020, the projection for the United States is 60,038.