What a powerful story from the Old Testament! And what would I choose if a messenger from God came and told me a message like he told David? : “Thus said the Lord, choose thee either three years famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while the sword of thy enemies overtake thee, or else the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to Him that sent me.” 1 Chronicles 21:11-12.
David’s plan to number Israel did not please his people, but he went ahead with the plan anyway; even Joab, hardened warrior though he was, pleaded with David asking “Why then does my lord require this thing, why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?”
One of the admirable characteristics of David was his willingness, when convicted of wrong, to confess his guilt. Why did he want to number Israel? He confessed to God “I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing…” and this is when God sent by Gad the prophet who was also one of the writers who preserved an account of David’s reign. Gad was sent with an answer of instruction for David to choose one of three.
This was an unusual offer that the Lord set before David. Sin invited judgement, but David was given an opportunity to choose what that judgement would be! However he did not make a direct choice: “And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait (difficulty, distress, need) let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are His mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 1 Chronicles 21:13.
I pray to always “fall into the hand of the LORD”. Man does not know as God knows, nor can man do for me as God can. The wise man said “Whatsoever God does, it shall be forever…” Ecclesiastes 3:14. Man is unpredictable, God is unchanging. Malachi 3:6.
“In His loving care and interest for us, often He who understands us better than we understand ourselves refuses to permit us selfishly to seek the gratification of our own ambition. He does not permit us to pass by the homely but sacred duties that lie next to us. Often these duties afford the very training essential to prepare us for a higher work. Often our plans fail that God’s plans for us may succeed.” The Ministry of Healing, p205 “God’s Plans the Best.”
Are your plans God’s plans? Listen to the soft voice of the Holy Spirit as you read 1 Chronicles 21. There we can find much to learn. Without God’s leading we will never know where we are spiritually.