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When the Godly Are Foolish
Scripture: 2 Samuel 24:1-3,10; 1 Chronicles 21:1,7-...
Track 18 of 19 in the David: A Man After God's Heart series
Running time: 55 minutes, 44 seconds.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Wisdom is something that every Christian should cherish. Unfortunately, the world seems to be lacking more and more in the virtue of wisdom. Sadly, many in the church fall into that category as well. I don’t know how many times a week I mutter to my self the term “idiot” when dealing with people. It isn’t as though I am this awesome intelligent person and the people I meet are stupid; it’s just that some of the bad ideas or actions people follow blow my mind sometimes. What is worse is when I myself do idiotic things. There there are times when it seems I lose my mind and step into the realm of the idiots.

Can someone define for me what “wisdom” is? If you had to explain to someone the term “wisdom, what would you say? To me the best definition of wisdom is seeing things the way God sees things. Understanding life with the same perspective God has. The world is full of people who are classified as intelligent, smart, knowledgeable and educated. It is interesting how some people display that intelligence to those around them and how important it is to be classified as a smart person. Social status can be enhanced if you are someone who is educated.

Is there a difference if a person has before their name a title such as doctor, professor or Mr.? Why do the doctors get to put their titles in front of their names and the average guy can’t? Does intelligence, being smart, being educated have anything to do with being wise? What is the difference from having knowledge and being wise?

Knowledge is horizontal. Wisdom is vertical-it comes down from above. Billy Graham

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification. Martin H. Fischer (1879-1962)

The first step of wisdom is to know what is false. Latin Proverb

If your head is wax, don't walk in the sun. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

It all sounds so simple and it really is IF a person knows where wisdom lies. But man’s heart makes life complicated. The whole reason why God gave us His Word, His plan was to make life simpler. Sin complicates life. Sin makes life hard. The wrong choices we make and the idiotic ideas we follow and believe in make life a very hard existence. The wise man knows that knowledge is good to have but if you don’t know what to do with it once you have it, that makes you a fool.

Have you ever met a person who was so smart that he was almost dumb? These are the kind of people who are very educated but have no common sense. Where does common sense come from? What relationship does common sense have with wisdom? What factor does age play into wisdom?

Age alone is no guarantee of maturity or freedom from error. As Elihu said to Job, “The experts have no corner on wisdom; getting old doesn’t guarantee good sense. When spiritual leaders wander from the things of God, the consequences are often devastating and always far-reaching. We will see in our lesson today a very bad decision made on David’s part sets up Israel for a major fall in years to come.

When does “All Grown Up” start? Have you ever said this to someone, “Grow Up!”. What does that mean and when does that start? Can a person be 80 years old and still be a child?

David is old and is still out fighting battles in war. He was very successful in his first battle and he was very successful in the battle recorded right before our scripture passage today. His first battle was between him and a Philistine giant, Goliath. In this battle today he is also victorious and he again defeats a Philistine giant, a brother of Goliath. We said many times in this lesson series that a man is very vulnerable after a victory in life. It seems Satan works quick and hard to knock us off the mountain top and in scripture today, David was no different. Satan sets a trap for David and he walks right into it.

2 Samuel 24:1 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.”

God was angry with Israel and we are not totally sure why but whatever it was, David was ticked off too. Upset and hassled, David commanded Joab to go out and number Israel.

2 Samuel 24:2 So the king said to Joab and the army commanders 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.”

Now what was wrong with that command? Why would his action be a big mistake for David? Scholars suggest that David’s motive came from pride. He wanted to see how vast his kingdom really was, how impressive his army was.

For any leader, it is critical that he has sound advisors who are willing to give advice even if it goes against is own ideas. Having advisors who tell you the truth and help you see the other sides of a debate keeps a leader from making wrong decisions.In the book written by Doris Goodwin, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, she records how Lincoln picked his advisors. Every one of his close advisors was his biggest rival. Lincoln was a great leader because he was not afraid to get and listen to advice that was opposite his ideas. David also had advisors who told him the truth.

2 Samuel 24:3 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?”

Joab is giving David wise counsel. It is one thing to have your nation grow and prosper, it is another to go out and count your successes. It's one thing to be rich, it is another thing to know exactly what you have so others can know that you are rich. It is one thing to be famous, it is another thing to write down all your accomplishments so one day when you die, it can all be put in your obituary. In a parallel passage in 1 Chronicles, it is stated a little more blunt:

1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.

It is an awesome thing to realize how powerful Satan is and how he works to mess things up. This should be a warning to us, Satan is alive and working and he gets things done by nudging us to do things that are not right with God. A little nudge here and a little nudge there can bring about devastating results. Don’t take Satan lightly and don’t think he is not out there working to mess your world up through your own actions.

What is interesting about this situation, 1 Chronicles gives us the hint that Joab and David had words over this command. Joab let David know this move was not wise but in the end, David ordered him to take the census and Joab obeyed as any good commander would. As we have seen before with David, absolute power without any accountability is a dangerous thing. David made some bad decisions using his absolute, unchecked authority. Here it is shows up again. David’s first weakness is he is out of touch with God.

How does the Holy Spirit work when we sin against God? In your personal life, how does he tell you that you messed up? What is the difference in having a heart for God and a heart of stone?

2 Samuel 24:10 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, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

David wasn’t perfect but he was a man who had a sensitive heart. He did want to do things for God and when he messed up, he was always driven back to God for help and forgiveness. After receiving the results of the census, David knew he had done the wrong thing. The passage here says David was conscience-stricken. The Hebrew word for that is much more severe, it means to be attacked, to be assaulted. It conveys the idea of being wounded or crippled. Deep inside David he was very aware that God was not happy at all with his decision.

David suffered from guilt. What sin was David guilty of? Guilt is always a byproduct of sin. Where there is guilt, sin is present. Has your conscience ever convicted you of sin? The question is, what did you do with it? Did you stop and change or are your continuing to run faster and faster in the wrong direction even though you know what you are doing is wrong? Why do we keep on running in the wrong direction when we know it is wrong? What are we afraid of?

1 Chronicles 21:7-8 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”

Here is the real story, why did David run back to God realizing that what he did was wrong? Israel was suffering. Too often we think our sins are undiscovered because we haven’t felt the consequences when in fact, others felt the consequences.

What follows is something very unique. It is the only time in scripture when God allows someone to choose which consequence he will receive for making bad decisions. Why God does this, I don’t know but God does it with David.

1 Chronicles 21:9-12 The LORD said to Gad, David’s seer, “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.’” So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or 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.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”

Notice that the consequences all have to do with his pride and the number of people and fighting men Israel had. The consequences won’t hurt David directly, but will punish Israel directly. Which one would you choose if you were David? What is the ultimate lesson we are to take away from this choice David had to make? No sin drops into a clear pond without making ripples. Sin always has consequences and if we choose to sin, don’t be shocked when the wave hits you or others around you. What affect do you think the David’s choice will have on the nation? Will they ever forget what happened?

1 Chronicles 21:13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”

David made a wise choice, if you want grace, fall into the hands of God. If you want judgment, fall into the hands of man. David knew that if he allowed God to bring the consequences, the results would be just but there would be grace and mercy. The decision just ate David alive having to witness the devastation God brought all because David chose to do his own thing.

1 Chronicles 21:14-15 So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.”

Can you imagine the thought, in addition to all that he was doing, the angel also planned to destroy all of Jerusalem until God was grieved. That was the character of God that David knew and had put his hope in when he had to make the awful choice. David knew God was a merciful and gracious God while men would have enjoyed killing and destroying the people. But the scene that follows is something frightful but very awesome.

1 Chronicles 21:15-17 The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand extended over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? O LORD my God, let your hand fall upon me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on your people.”

David sees first hand the ugliness of his sin and the consequences sin can have. He is broken and his people are broken. This plague hits hard but God doesn’t want it forgotten so he commands David through the angel of the Lord to build an never-to-be-forgotten memorial.

1 Chronicles 21:18-19 Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. So David went up in obedience to the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD.

This site is bought by David with his own money. David buys this site and prepares it for the temple he always wanted to build for God. This site is where the temple would be built. On this site is where the atonement for Israel’s sin would be played out over and over again until Jesus comes and offered the one sacrifice for all.

Now some will say, how can God do such a thing as this? But think abut this a minute, How can God stop where He does, knowing what we deserve. We deserve NONE of the benefits that come our way, they are all magnificent benefits that comes from His grace. But we must remember this, when the sword was put back in its sheath, there were still 70,000 fresh graves in Israel. Sin has its consequences and we better wake up and realize it