Israel’s King David was an obedient servant of the Lord, most of the time. However, as a human, there were times when he followed his own heart rather than the instructions and teaching of the Lord. On one occasion, David was incited to order a census of all the people (2 Samuel 24). Against the advice of his trusted servants, David pressed for a count of all the people.
The writings of Moses made it very clear that census required each person to contribute half a shekel to the Lord for atonement (Exodus 30:11-16). This was to be done so that there would be no plague among the people. However, this is not the process David followed.
Having sinned, his conscience began to bother him so he confessed his sin to the Lord. Gad, being sent by the Lord, offered David three options – all of them meant death for people in Israel. David chose three days of pestilence instead of 3 years of being hunted by his enemies or 7 years of famine. The plague killed 70,000 men and would have killed more but David took action. He purchased all that was needed to offer a burnt offering and peace offerings to the Lord.
Then we read, “Thus the Lord was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.”
David had sinned, and he confessed his sin but that wasn’t enough. David prayed, and God was moved by David’s prayer to spare the lives of countless others who might have died if the plague had not been stopped.
The living God listens and answers prayer to spare us and others from the consequences of sin, and for some, certain death. Prayer does move the hand of God!