2 Sam 24:10  But David’s heart smote him after he had numbered the people.  David said to the Lord, I have sinned greatly in what I have done.

Unlike his earlier major debacle with Bathsheba when Nathan confronted David with his sin, no human being needs to meet with David this time.  The unseen Holy Spirit, who convicts all believers of sin, communicates directly to David’s heart.  The king has called for a census during a time when his kingdom is not at war, and no conscription is necessary. Joab, his military chief of staff, has strongly advised against it.  But the King’s wishes prevail.  However, after 9 months of counting when David is presented with the data, he immediately comes face to face with the fact of his sin.  He confesses immediately to the Lord and submits to his punishment.  We know that he was correct in his spiritual inventory, because the prophet Gad is directed by God to present to David three choices of punishment.  God implements the 3-day plague that David has chosen as the lesser evil.

A further sign of spiritual growth is when David, appalled at the price his own people have to pay for his sin, attempts to halt the plague’s destruction at the end of the allotted time.  His prophet Gad instructs him to set up an altar and sacrifice.  The intended place is Araunah’s barn.  When the farmer finds out David’s intentions, he offers to supply everything David needs at no cost, including the land, animals and firewood.  David, totally unconscious of any embarrassment, publically renounces the gift by explaining that he will not offer to the Lord something that has not cost him.  David has learned that true worship, where one declares the worth of another, requires giving up of something of personal value.

I’m struck by a parallel thought.  First, the mighty King David, the man after God’s own heart, is still sinning.  I need to prepare myself for the fact that as I mature, I will, from time to time, still settle for less than God’s glory in my choices. I am still a sinner, though redeemed.  But I can always repent and receive forgiveness as long as I am humble.  Second, my sin will cost others, and my repentance will cost me.  But I rather face reality and prepare for it, then live with the illusion that Christian growth leads to an end to sinning.  Not in this life!