Why was God angry at the people? Why did David see wisdom in a census, and then why did he realize that it was a bad idea? Why did God plant a bad idea in David’s mind? (1 Chronicles says instead that Satan gave David the idea.) The Bible stories omit certain details like these.
There are possible reasons for the census.
It is difficult for our modern sensibilities to understand why God sent a plague that killed 70,000 people in three days, while at the same time affirming that God takes the side of the Israelites and cherishes them as his people. But we know from that Bible that God sides with those who are threatened—including situations of “government overreach” and public evil. In this story, David realizes he has acted wrongly concerning the people---and they have suffered as a consequence. Doing things with political expediency was necessary for David (as we see in the story of 2 Samuel 21), but David realized when he overstepped his God-given authority, and he took repentant steps to change. Thus, David has been called a person “after God’s own heart.”
1.If I said, “When the leader sins, the people suffer,” would you agree? Can you think of examples from history, where leaders dragged their people down?
2.In many ways, government facilitates social well-being. In your opinion, when are occasions when the government does this well? When does the government act poorly in this regard?
3.To repeat an earlier question: How do you respond to Bible stories wherein God is said to act in extreme, destructive ways? How do you reconcile such stories with the teaching that God is love?