"It is I who have sinned; it is I, the shepherd, who have done wrong. But these are sheep; what have they done?" 2 Sam 24:16
David is forever getting himself in and out of trouble and there are times when the reader wonders whether this great King of Israel is honestly sorry for his awful behavior or is repentant because he got caught. In today's passage he stirs up God's wrath by calling for a census, something that belongs to God. Israel's people are God's people, not David's or any other king. especially if, in their pride, they want to preen before other nations about how powerful they are. Only God can command that a census, and as Joab reminds David, God always makes Israel appear a hundred times stronger than they are. God will provide; God will defend. We have only to do God's will and not pretend that God's power is ours.
Whatever the case, David's words are strong. He asks God to punish him, the shepherd, for his sin of pride, and not punish his people. No doubt David was able to ask God for forgiveness because despite all his faults, he never completely forgot who he was. God had called David, anointed him and empowered him. Whenever David forgot this, God would be angry with him, but as soon as he came to his senses, God was anxious to forgive him and reconcile with him.
The same is true for us. We never have to fear God's anger as long as we are willing to admit our foolishness. Psalm 73 says it clearly, "I was stupid and could not understand; I was like a brute beast in your presence." When we are able to acknowledge our stupidity God does not turn his back on us. Only when, in our pride, we pretend to have no need of God do we risk God's wrath.
Today, remember who you are and accept your limitations.