This is another one that confuses me.
But first, there’s a song of thanksgiving and praise from early in David’s reign, when he’s finally safe, followed immediately by the ‘last words of David,’ which is another song of praise. From beginning to end, David sought the Lord’s favor, attempted to uphold his covenant. Yes, he failed, miserably at times, criminally at times, but he made a habit of humble repentance. He accepted responsibility for his actions. I think that matters.
What confuses me is the bit about the census. So God gets angry and incites David to take a head count. Joab protests. David realizes it was a mistake all along, and repents. There are consequences. So… is this a poetic ‘God incited David,’ in the sense that it was out of character for him so we’re going to blame an outside force? Was this a test he failed? Was David experiencing attitude problems, getting a little prideful, and the census was a physical act on that pride to which the consequences were then connected?
I don’t know. I don’t understand the language here. Unless it’s God reaching in and pulling David’s pride to the surface where he acts on it, I don’t understand. And maybe that’s it. I just… it’s weird.
Does it bother me? Not really. I mean, it’s a little frustrating because I don’t like being confused. It’s a little irritating the way a puzzle is a little irritating while you work it out, just enough to push you forward, just enough that you keep pulling at threads in that knot. It doesn’t bother me in the sense that it makes me question the whole book or the God in question. Because language is a strange thing. Because they way we record history changes with the culture involved. Because the way these people spoke of spiritual encounters is incredibly different than the way we understand them today.
Maybe I’ll work it out some day. Maybe I’ll encounter someone else who has. Maybe someone else will comment on it in a way that makes it all click for me. I don’t know. What I know is that a lot of passages that used to confuse me make sense now, with more contextual information, with more perspective, with more wisdom than I used to possess. So no, it doesn’t bother me when I don’t understand everything easily.