Justice and Mercy, Anger and Pity

Michael Wilcock

READ : 1 Chronicles 21:9-17

We may not know exactly why David’s sin is reckoned to be so serious, but we are left in no doubt that it is. Rather than ask further why the penalty is so harsh (the same question in a different form), we might consider what sort of a God is making himself known in these circumstances.

On the one hand, he cannot and will not simply overlook the sin, for he is a holy God; and he punishes David’s pride in big battalions by decimating them, for he is a just God. Yet on the other hand, he gives David a choice of the method of punishment, and in choosing, David relies on the fact that he is also a merciful God.

More dramatic still is the scene at Araunah’s threshing floor. The angel in the sky, his sword drawn over Jerusalem as a sign of the divine anger; the leadership of Israel on its knees before him, appealing in repentance to the divine pity-David would never forget either of these tremendous experiences, and the facts about God that lay behind them.


Lord, teach us both the fear and the trust we owe you. Amen.