Word of Encouragement (02/22/2024)

Pastor James
February 22, 2024

Then David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man." (2 Sam. 24:14)

God’s response to David’s sin was, “Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.... Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land” (vv. 12-13)? In this prayer, David makes his choice among the three options.

All three of the options were terrifying. Even so, the second option might have seemed least selfish. The other two options would have an obvious effect on the nation of Israel as a whole. The second one—“Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you?”—potentially would affect only David. Was David being selfish by choosing the third option, sacrificing the people for his sin? While possible, that seems unlikely. When the pestilence struck hard against the land and killed 70,000 (v. 15), David said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father's house” (v. 17). When we consider the national scope of the other two options, it could be that the second option, too, would have affected the whole nation—possibly, by the invasion of a foreign country, bringing much destruction and many casualties to Israel.

The way David made his choice is poignant, isn’t it? “Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” God was the One who was bringing this punishment to David. God was much more powerful than any mortal; He had the power to wreak havoc than much more any man or nation could. David knew this better than anyone, perhaps. But he also knew that “his mercy is great.” A child may be sobbing inconsolably after being disciplined by her dad. But if she knows that her dad loves her, who can console her better than her dad? What she needs the most is the warm embrace of her dad. Just like the child, David wanted nothing more than God’s mercy to follow His righteous indignation.

(On a side note, even if David fell into the hand of man, nobody could do him harm beyond what God had prescribed. David could never fall out of God’s hand. For that matter, nobody could. Here, David was simply speaking of a hypothetical situation. If man were not under God’s sovereign control and allowed to do whatever he wanted, David would be much safer in the hand of his covenant LORD than in the hand of a sinner.)

What David did is what we should do. We know how merciful God is far better than David. He could have never imagined that God was willing to sacrifice His Son to grant forgiveness to sinners like him. If so, we should not sin against such a merciful and loving God. And if we should sin, we should “fall into the hand of God” in sincere confession and decisive repentance instead of turning away in despair or rebellion. For the hand we fall into is the nail-pierced hand of Jesus Christ, which testifies to the assurance of God’s forgiveness.