King David commits sinful acts, the people suffer

1 Chronicles 21-22: The Sinful Actions of a Leader Affect the People

Have you ever wondered if God is judging us because of the sinful actions of our leaders? In today’s chapters, we see how the sinful actions of King David trickle down to the people who end up suffering. However, our God shows mercy and lays plans for a future king including Jesus. Let’s dig in…

1 Chronicles 21

20 years have passed since the last chapter. Remember, too that David gave Satan a foothold by committing adultery with Bathsheba. The cancer is starting to spread.

David Takes a Census

Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the people of Israel—from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north—and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.”

But Joab replied, “May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?”

But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab traveled throughout all Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem and reported the number of people to David. There were 1,100,000 warriors in all Israel who could handle a sword, and 470,000 in Judah. But Joab did not include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin in the census because he was so distressed at what the king had made him do.

Judgment for David’s Sin

God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”

Then the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer. This was the message: 10 “Go and say to David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will inflict it on you.’”

11 So Gad came to David and said, “These are the choices the Lord has given you. 12 You may choose three years of famine, three months of destruction by the sword of your enemies, or three days of severe plague as the angel of the Lord brings devastation throughout the land of Israel. Decide what answer I should give the Lord who sent me.”

13 “I’m in a desperate situation!” David replied to Gad. “But let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”

14 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel, and 70,000 people died as a result. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But just as the angel was preparing to destroy it, the Lord relented and said to the death angel, “Stop! That is enough!” At that moment the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

16 David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between heaven and earth with his sword drawn, reaching out over Jerusalem. So David and the leaders of Israel put on burlap to show their deep distress and fell face down on the ground. 17 And David said to God, “I am the one who called for the census! I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are as innocent as sheep—what have they done? O Lord my God, let your anger fall against me and my family, but do not destroy your people.”

David Builds an Altar

18 Then the angel of the Lord told Gad to instruct David to go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19 So David went up to do what the Lord had commanded him through Gad. 20 Araunah, who was busy threshing wheat at the time, turned and saw the angel there. His four sons, who were with him, ran away and hid. 21 When Araunah saw David approaching, he left his threshing floor and bowed before David with his face to the ground.

22 David said to Araunah, “Let me buy this threshing floor from you at its full price. Then I will build an altar to the Lord there, so that he will stop the plague.”

23 “Take it, my lord the king, and use it as you wish,” Araunah said to David. “I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, and the threshing boards for wood to build a fire on the altar, and the wheat for the grain offering. I will give it all to you.”

24 But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it for the full price. I will not take what is yours and give it to the Lord. I will not present burnt offerings that have cost me nothing!” 25 So David gave Araunah 600 pieces of gold in payment for the threshing floor.

26 David built an altar there to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. And when David prayed, the Lord answered him by sending fire from heaven to burn up the offering on the altar. 27 Then the Lord spoke to the angel, who put the sword back into its sheath.

28 When David saw that the Lord had answered his prayer, he offered sacrifices there at Araunah’s threshing floor. 29 At that time the Tabernacle of the Lord and the altar of burnt offering that Moses had made in the wilderness were located at the place of worship in Gibeon. 30 But David was not able to go there to inquire of God, because he was terrified by the drawn sword of the angel of the Lord.

1 Chronicles 21 NLT

1 Chronicles 22

Then David said, “This will be the location for the Temple of the Lord God and the place of the altar for Israel’s burnt offerings!”

Preparations for the Temple

So David gave orders to call together the foreigners living in Israel, and he assigned them the task of preparing finished stone for building the Temple of God. David provided large amounts of iron for the nails that would be needed for the doors in the gates and for the clamps, and he gave more bronze than could be weighed. He also provided innumerable cedar logs, for the men of Tyre and Sidon had brought vast amounts of cedar to David.

David said, “My son Solomon is still young and inexperienced. And since the Temple to be built for the Lord must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world, I will begin making preparations for it now.” So David collected vast amounts of building materials before his death.

Then David sent for his son Solomon and instructed him to build a Temple for the Lord, the God of Israel. “My son, I wanted to build a Temple to honor the name of the Lord my God,” David told him. “But the Lord said to me, ‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in my sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor my name. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a Temple to honor my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

11 “Now, my son, may the Lord be with you and give you success as you follow his directions in building the Temple of the Lord your God. 12 And may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, that you may obey the Law of the Lord your God as you rule over Israel. 13 For you will be successful if you carefully obey the decrees and regulations that the Lord gave to Israel through Moses. Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid or lose heart!

14 “I have worked hard to provide materials for building the Temple of the Lord—nearly 4,000 tons of gold, 40,000 tons of silver, and so much iron and bronze that it cannot be weighed. I have also gathered timber and stone for the walls, though you may need to add more. 15 You have a large number of skilled stonemasons and carpenters and craftsmen of every kind. 16 You have expert goldsmiths and silversmiths and workers of bronze and iron. Now begin the work, and may the Lord be with you!”

17 Then David ordered all the leaders of Israel to assist Solomon in this project. 18 “The Lord your God is with you,” he declared. “He has given you peace with the surrounding nations. He has handed them over to me, and they are now subject to the Lord and his people. 19 Now seek the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. Build the sanctuary of the Lord God so that you can bring the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant and the holy vessels of God into the Temple built to honor the Lord’s name.”

1 Chronicles 22 NLT

The Cost of Sinful Actions

The parallel chapter to this one is 2 Samuel 24, reads, “Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census.” So, who was it — Satan or God — who moved David to sin? BOTH! Satan rules the world ever since Genesis 3, but God is in control.

Pastor Sandy Adams explains…

God is sovereign. Ultimately, God either causes or allows all that happens in the universe. And God at times uses Satan. Don’t be surprised to learn that God at times uses the forces of darkness to accomplish His will.

Martin Luther once referred to Satan as “God’s ape.” God is the organ grinder and Satan, at times, must dance to His tune.

Apparently, God saw in David’s heart a sin that needed to be addressed. Pride could destroy a good man. So God allowed David to be tempted by the devil.

David ordered a census. He counted the population of Israel… which was not evil in and of itself… Moses numbered the nation so he could organize and serve the people. The problem with David’s census was its motivation. David wanted a nose count so he could boast in the extent of his kingdom – the vastness of his realm. David wanted to number the nation for his benefit – not their benefit.

Remember too, in Bible times counting implied ownership. Normally, you don’t number someone else’s stuff. It’s not my place to count your money or vice versa.

David’s desire to number the people of Israel sprang from his desire to flaunt the vastness of His kingdom. Satan stirred his ego, and God judged David…

The nation gets judged for the leader’s sin. This is why it’s important for us to elect godly leaders. It’s not just the leader himself – but the citizens who elected him – who are held accountable for his actions. That’s a scary thought in America today… and a motivation to vote.

Sandy Adams

And I’ll add… pray before voting and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.


  • Immediately, David confesses his sin and repents.
  • God forgives, but there are still the consequences of his sinful actions.
  • God gives David 3 choices of penance. The hard thing to swallow is that the people are punished for the sinful actions of their leader. Is that fair? They didn’t elect him. However…
    • After the time of the Judges, the people rejected God and asked for a king. It was their choice.
    • Even with the king, the people still sinned by worshiping the fake god idols of the neighboring pagan nations. In case you haven’t noticed, God hates IDOLATRY. Consequently, His anger burned so much that He caused David to sin.
    • Though David chose what he thought would be the lesser of 3 punishments, the people still suffered as 70,000 men died.
  • David saw his highly valued numbers erased.

Related: Are Catholics Idolaters?

Self-sufficiency replaces reliance on God, and we miss the wonder of seeing God work as well as the experience of the sufficiency of Christ. In what areas of life are you doing your own thing rather than seeking God’s direction? It’s time to take responsibility for the sin of independence from God. Will you confess and ask for God’s mercy today?

Thomas Road Baptist Church
Preparation: A Study in 1 Chronicles:

But God…

  • Is a merciful God.
  • Loved the people.
  • Doesn’t hold back His Love.

Nevertheless, sinning has consequences, just like committing a crime results in going to prison.

The Future Temple

David wanted very badly to build God a temple. He said so when he moved the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. God said, “No.” Why? The answer wasn’t in 2 Samuel. It’s in Chapter 22 of 1 Chronicles. As David is telling Solomon that he’s the one that gets to build God a temple, he unveils that God said to him…

‘You have killed many men in the battles you have fought. And since you have shed so much blood in my sight, you will not be the one to build a Temple to honor my name. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace. I will give him peace with his enemies in all the surrounding lands. His name will be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a Temple to honor my name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will secure the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’

1 Chronicles 22:8-10 NLT
  • David was a man of war, Solomon was a man of peace.
  • Araunah’s threshing floor would become the Temple Mount. Today, it’s the most contested piece of Real Estate in the world.
  • David insisted on paying full price for the land even though Araunah offered to donate it. That gives it worth.
  • Solomon would not be distracted by war.

Parallels to Jesus


There is Good News!

Jesus told us…

33 “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NLT

Since Jesus overcame the world, when we become born again, we, too, become overcommers. At some point in the near future — only God the Father knows when — we, the Bride of Christ, the true born-again believers — will be caught up to meet Jesus in the clouds. That is our HOPE. This world is NOT all there is!!!

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

God So Loved

The Third Temple – Amir Tsarfati

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be The Glory!

Left Behind After the Rapture Series

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