1 Chronicles 21:17
And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
David, of course, was a faithful shepherd before he was king of Israel. He became a mighty man of battle and ended his life living in a palace instead of a pasture. But it seems that throughout his life, he retained the heart of a shepherd. Indeed, his life as king was similar in some ways to his life as a shepherd. He was a leader and a guide of the people. He was their defender and protector. He cared for them and sought to provide the best for them. And he often displayed a mercy and kindness evident in one who is responsible for the welfare of others.
That kind of heart made David a man who could admit his sin and then accept the punishment himself instead of allowing someone else to suffer for what he had done. So in this moment of judgment, he stands between the sword and his people, protecting his sheep, admitting that he, as their leader, their example, had failed them by disobeying God.
David was not perfect like the Good Shepherd he followed, the one he patterned his life after, but he can still be an example for us, since we are also far from perfect. We may not be kings or leaders, but we can still stand accountable for ourselves, confess our sins before God, and not allow others to be punished for our misdeeds. We may not be warriors or soldiers seasoned in battle, but we can still stand bravely and bear the consequences of our actions. We may not bear the title “a man after God’s own heart,” but we still have free access to pray before the Lord.
One lesson we can learn from David here is to be accountable for ourselves and not allow others to be sacrificed in our place to pay for what we have done. David would see no harm come to his flock. David would not allow God’s people to be destroyed for his sake. May we, too, guard our flocks, whatever they may be. May we ask for mercy from God upon His people and accept the consequences ourselves for whatever ways we have failed Him. And then, like David, we experience God’s mercy on a personal level that draws us closer and closer to our own Shepherd and Guide.