What does it say?
2Sam 24 and 1Chr 21 describe David’s sin in taking a census of the people. The prophet Gad confronts David and offers him three choices to deal with his sin: seven years of famine, three months of military defeat or three days of plague. David chooses the three days in which 70,000 die. Gad instructs David to build an altar to offer offerings on Araunah’s (Ornan in 1Chr 21 is another form of the same name) threshing floor.
The most important aspect of the story told about David’s sin in numbering the people is his decision to purchase this threshing floor to be the site for the future temple. There is no parallel in 2Sam 24 for 1Chr 22 that describes how David prepares materials for the temple and charges Solomon to build it when he comes to the throne.
Psalm 30 is Davidic and the occasion is the dedication of the house of David. The titles, as we have commented, are not considered to be divinely inspired, but there is no reason to doubt this title. The question is whether it refers to the house David built for himself or the dedication of the property purchased from Araunah for the future temple (2Sam 24; 1Chr 21).
What does it mean?
God previously ordered a census of the people. Why is what David did here a sin? Is it because he did it on his own initiative and not God’s? Is it because he was motivated by pride? There is no clear answer to this question other than 1Chr 21:1 stating that David was provoked to do so by Satan. What is most important is the dedication of the property for the temple and the principle that appears in 2Sam 24:24 (and 1Chr 21:24) that David would not offer to God that which cost him nothing.
Psalm 30 is a dedication song. Dedications are important in the Bible. Should we be any less given to dedicate important aspects of our life to God? Consider things that one might formally dedicate to God, beginning with our life itself: children, business, house, vehicles, talents and skills. Don’t miss the message of Psa 30: 5.
How will I respond?
Am I giving God leftovers? What am I offering to God that costs me nothing? What step might I take today to deal with that as David did? The Bible says that we are stewards (managers, administrators), not owners. What in my life do I need to decisively dedicate to God today?