Wrath Wrapped in Mercy
1. The wrath of God in His judgment
11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” 15 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 2 Samuel 24:10-15 (ESV)
Even after repentance, the consequences of sin remain.
Psalm 89:31-33: Romans 9:20
Perhaps David’s choice to fall on God’s mercy indicates he had repented of His failure to trust in God’s all-wise plan rather than in the strength of man.
2. The wrath of God and His mercy
16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” 18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, as the LORD commanded. 2 Samuel 24:16-19 (ESV) Psalm 103:8
It is no coincidence that the angel ceased expressing God’s wrath on the very site that David built an altar and Solomon the temple, a place where God’s mercy and grace would be continuously displayed toward His people. Hebrews 9:22
3. The wrath of God and atonement
20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground.
21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25 And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel. 2 Samuel 24:20-25 (ESV); 1 Chronicles 22:1
The land that David purchased was no ordinary piece of property for it was also the place where Abraham had put his son Isaac on the altar yet God provided a substitution sacrifice in a ram (Gen 22). 2 Chronicles 3:1; Romans 5:20