This chapter is an odd and interesting conclusion to the book of Samuel. Chronologically, it almost certainly belongs to an earlier period in David’s life, so the author probably intended for it to be a kind of summary of David’s life.
In a similar way to last week’s text (Psalm 51), David shows an attitude of remorse–probably the reason why God blessed him with a kingdom that would survive his death.
But the focus here is on God, who does something that is almost inexplicable, and it should probably stand as something that we can’t fully explain. We simply can’t put God into a neat little box where all of his actions are fully understandable by our finite minds.
Where this chapter points, though, is toward God’s mercy. Israel and David had done something that deserved to be punished, but God stopped his punishment before it was fully realized.
Here’s what we’ll observe about this text Sunday morning . . . please notice particularly the last point.
- We don’t always understand God’s ways.
- But we trust in his sovereignty and mercy.
- We learn from David’s penitent and sacrificial spirit.
- This site becomes the place that most beautiful represents God’s mercy and kindness.
We learn from other texts that this is the same area where Abraham “offered” up Isaac, and the same place where Solomon would later build the temple. So this is a special place–one where God would repeatedly refuse to bring about the punishment that people deserved (symbolized by the thousands and thousands of animal sacrifices that would be offered on this site in future years). And, of course, Jesus’s sacrifice would be the one that would finally and ultimately bring animal sacrifices to an end. There God said once and for all that he forgives our sins completely . . . and gives us mercy instead of judgment.