By Christine Darg, Jerusalem Channel

In the Bible, King David Repented and Turned Back a Plague!

When a nation turns from God, judgment and calamity follow.

Genesis 50: 20 contains a verse that is a principle in life. Joseph said to his brothers who had betrayed him, “…you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Romans 8:28 has a similar logic to it: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

While the coronavirus pestilence is wreaking havoc, we can also look for good coming out of it, such as many people hearing the Gospel through online messages, closer family communication, time to slow down and seek God, and so forth.

There was  a time in the Bible when God judged Israel resulting in a pestilence, but do you know what good came out of it? Before I give the answer, let’s look at the story in 2 Samuel Chapter 24 in the Hebrew scriptures.

King David had ordered a census to be taken amongst all the tribes. David had been warned not to do that, but to rely instead upon God.

Once the census was finished, David realized too late that his action had been carried out in unbelief, dishonouring the Lord.

“And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”

When David arose the next morning, his seer, the prophet Gad, confronted him and spelled out the consequences. David would have to choose one of three terrible options: 

  • Israel would face three years of desperate famine, 
  • Or David would be attacked and have to flee from his enemies for three months, 
  • Or there would be three days of pestilence in all the land. 

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 hands of men.”

So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel and people died from Dan to Beersheba, 70,000 men.

But just when the angel of death stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then David spoke to the LORD and 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.”

What a parallel this account offers with the Passover story where the angel of death is passing over. The death toll on this occasion was 70,000 Israelites and David’s capital, Jerusalem, was about to be destroyed when David interceded with God for his people whom he called tenderly sheep. 

The prophet Gad instructed David and his servants to do a very specific act of contrition:

And that day Gad came to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19So David went up at the word of Gad, just as the LORD had commanded.

Model of the City of David, Jerusalem in the late Second Temple period. Located in Israel Museum, Jerusalem. View to the Temple from east.

And David met with the Jebusite land owner named Araunah. who owned the threshing floor property on a mount in Jerusalem which was destined to become the most contentious real estate in the world- it was destined to become the Temple Mount! The  Jebusite bowed before the king and offered to give his threshing floor to the monarch, along with oxen for a sacrifice. But David, I believe by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit declined the gift, and insisted on paying Araunah fifty shekels for the land and the animals. Scholars say  that was the first of what could be called a temple offering.

Verse 21, David requested to buy the threshing floor, “that I may build an altar to the LORD, so that the plague upon the people may be halted.” In the same way, do you recall, Abraham purchased the burial cave in Hebron so that he had legal right to the land?

David said wisely, “I insist on paying a price, for I will not offer to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

“And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.”

Then the LORD answered the prayers on behalf of the land, and the plague upon Israel was halted.

So what started as a disaster for King David and the nation of Israel, turned into a way in which the people could find propitiation for their sins through sacrifices. And David took ownership of the most valuable real estate in the world which would have ramifications for generations to come, especially now. 

So the legal title of the Temple Mount by King David is recorded in 2 Samuel 24:24–25.

The Son of David in truth is the legal owner of the Temple Mount, King Messiah, Jesus himself!

This turnaround accomplished something that should give meaning to our lives today: 

“So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.”

Amen and Amen!

What we may have done for evil, or what evil may have happened to us–let us ask God to reverse the curse and bring life out of it,  as he did when King David repented.

This Bible narrative can  also be applied to our nations today that have sinned against God by  abandoning him, yet as we repent according to God’s principles laid out in 2 Chronicles 7: 13-15, we can hope for good to come:

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, 14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.