2 Samuel 24
-The last chapter elaborates on the situation in David’s reign when he looked to the physical instead of the spiritual for protection in his nation. The LORD’s anger burned against Israel, which may have indicated some type of attack or unforeseen distressing situation. 1 Chronicles 21:1 attributes the issue to Satan, rather than the LORD, for the temptation that was ultimately allowed by the Sovereign God. Whatever the case, this condition caused David to be incited to petition his commanders to “Go, number Israel and Judah.” They were to go throughout all the land from north, Dan, to south, Beersheba, to register the people in a military conscription type of census. David wanted to know this presumably for his self-assured confidence in his fighting force. It was a carnal act of putting trust in his armies rather than relying on the power of God. Joab frankly argued with him on this command, “Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord delight in this thing?” However, David’s command prevailed against Joab and against all the commanders of his army. So they went out and obeyed the king in his edict to register the people. They crossed the Jordan and camped in Aroer, “on the right side of the city that is in the middle of the valley of Gad and toward Jazer.” Then they came to Gilead, then the land of Tahtim-hodshi, then Dan-jaan, and then they came around to Sidon and the fortress of Tyre. They visited all the cities of the Hivites, of the Canaanites, all the way south in Judah to Beersheba. When they’d gone through all the land registering, which took them nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem and gave their report. In Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who could draw a sword, and 500,000 in Judah. Well over a million able bodied warriors for the cause of the kingdom. But David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people irresponsibly and carnally. He confessed his sin before the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly (2 Samuel 24:1-10).”
-When David arose the next morning, the prophet Gad was told by God to go and speak with David. God, speaking through His prophet, offered David a choice of three potential consequences for his sin. It would either be seven years of famine in the land, three months of fleeing before his foes while they pursued, or a three days’ pestilence in the land. David was to seriously consider these options and send back his answer to the LORD through Gad, the prophet. With hearing his options, David spoke, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the Hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” Therefore, the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from that first morning until the appointed time. This was indeed a brutal pestilence as 70,000 men from Dan to Beersheba died. As the death angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD finally relented from the calamity and told the angel that “It is enough!” He told His angel to relax his hand now as the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Then, when David saw the angel that was striking down the people, he said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your Hand be against me and against my father’s house.” So God sent Gad back to David that very day and said to him, “Go up, erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” David did this according to the word of God just as He had commanded him. As Araunah looked down and saw the king and his servants crossing over towards him, he went out and bowed his face to the ground before the king. Araunah asked why he had come, and David replied that he was attempting to buy this man’s threshing floor so that he could build an altar to the LORD so that the plague would be held back from the people. Upon hearing this, Araunah graciously offered to give this property for free as well as oxen for the burnt offering, threshing sledges, and the yokes of the oxen for the wood wanting the LORD to accept David’s sacrifice. But David responded, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” So David purchased the threshing floor and the oxen for 50 shekels of silver. There he built his altar as God had commanded and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before Him. “Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel (2 Samuel 24:11-25).” And this is where the book ends.
-*Application* First, we must acknowledge that God can lead us into temptation and testing having ultimate control over everything, while at the same giving us a way out. Satan is glad to assist in this spiritual battle and wants very desperately to have us act in a fleshly-carnal fashion just like David did here in the text. When Jesus taught us to pray, He instructed that we petition God not to lead us into temptation, and to deliver us from all evil (Matthew 6:13, Luke 11:4). There is no doubt a spiritual battlefield that we participate in here on this earth. The choices are ours, and we will bear the consequences. Sometimes God gives us choices even in the consequences just as He did with David. We can run or face our failures. Confession is key, penance is real. There is always a price to be paid for sin. It will cost us something and often affects innocent people around us. Thankfully, God pays our cost in the person of Jesus Christ, who offered the ultimate sacrificial atonement. Jesus is our way out if we put our trust in Him. Christ is our saving mercy.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 24:10, 24-25