2 Samuel
Chapter 24

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1 And againe the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and hee mooued Dauid against them, to say, Goe, number Israel and Iudah.

2 For the king said to Ioab the captaine of the hoste, which was with him, Goe now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan euen to Beer-sheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

3 And Ioab sayde vnto the King, Now the Lord thy God adde vnto the people (how many soeuer they be) an hundred folde, and that the eyes of my lorde the king may see it: but why doeth my lord the king delight in this thing?

4 Notwithstanding, the kings word preuailed against Ioab, and against the captaines of the hoste: and Ioab and the captaines of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

5 And they passed ouer Iordane, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the citie that lieth in the midst of the riuer of Gad, and toward Iazer.

6 Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtim-Hodshi; and they came to Dan-Iaan, and about to Zidon,

7 And came to the strong holde of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hiuites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the South of Iudah, euen to Beer-sheba.

8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Ierusalem at the ende of nine moneths, and twentie dayes.

9 And Ioab gaue vp the summe of the number of the people vnto the king, and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drewe the sword: and the men of Iudah were fiue hundred thousand men.

10 And Dauids heart smote him, after that hee had numbred the people: and Dauid sayde vnto the Lord, I haue sinned greatly in that I haue done: and nowe I beseech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquitie of thy seruant, for I haue done very foolishly.

11 For when Dauid was vp in the morning, the word of the Lord came vnto the Prophet Gad Dauids Seer, saying,

12 Goe and say vnto Dauid, Thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; chuse thee one of them, that I may doe it vnto thee.

13 So Gad came to Dauid, and told him, and said vnto him, Shall seuen yeeres of famine come vnto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three moneths before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three dayes pestilence in thy land? Now aduise, and see what answere I shall returne to him that sent me.

14 And Dauid saide vnto Gad, I am in a great strait: let vs fall now into the hand of the Lord (for his mercies are great,) and let me not fall into the hand of man.

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence vpon Israel, from the morning, euen to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan euen to Beersheba, seuentie thousand men.

16 And when the Angel stretched out his hand vpon Ierusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the euill, and said to the Angel that destroyed the people, It is ynough: stay now thine hand. And the Angel of the Lord was by the threshing place of Araunah the Iebusite.

17 And Dauid spake vnto the Lord when he saw the Angel that smote the people, and said, Loe, I haue sinned, and I haue done wickedly: but these sheepe, what haue they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against mee, and against my fathers house.

18 And Gad came that day to Dauid, and said vnto him, Goe vp, reare an Altar vnto the Lord, in the threshing floore of Araunah the Iebusite.

19 And Dauid, according to the saying of Gad, went vp, as the Lord commanded.

20 And Araunah looked, and saw the King and his seruants comming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himselfe before the King on his face vpon the ground.

21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the King come to his seruant? and Dauid saide, To buy the threshing floore of thee, to build an Altar vnto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.

22 And Araunah said vnto Dauid, Let my lord the King take and offer vp what seemeth good vnto him: Beholde, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments, and other instruments of the oxen for wood.

23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, giue vnto the King: and Araunah saide vnto the King, The Lord thy God accept thee.

24 And the King said vnto Araunah, Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings vnto the Lord my God, of that which doeth cost mee nothing. So Dauid bought the threshing floore, and the oxen, for fiftie shekels of siluer.

25 Aud Dauid built there an Altar vnto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings, and peace offerings: so the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

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Commentary for 2 Samuel 24

David numbers the people. (1-9) He chooses the pestilence. (10-15) The staying the pestilence. (16,17) David's sacrifice, The plague removed. (18-25)1-9 For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and in his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws light upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a useful lesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable, trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and though he had written so much of trusting in God only. God judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious. But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.

10-15 It is well, when a man has sinned, if he has a heart within to smite him for it. If we confess our sins, we may pray in faith that God would forgive them, and take away, by pardoning mercy, that sin which we cast away by sincere repentance. What we make the matter of our pride, it is just in God to take from us, or make bitter to us, and make it our punishment. This must be such a punishment as the people have a large share in, for though it was David's sin that opened the sluice, the sins of the people all contributed to the flood. In this difficulty, David chose a judgment which came immediately from God, whose mercies he knew to be very great, rather than from men, who would have triumphed in the miseries of Israel, and have been thereby hardened in their idolatry. He chose the pestilence; he and his family would be as much exposed to it as the poorest Israelite; and he would continue for a shorter time under the Divine rebuke, however severe it was. The rapid destruction by the pestilence shows how easily God can bring down the proudest sinners, and how much we owe daily to the Divine patience.

16,17 Perhaps there was more wickedness, especially more pride, and that was the sin now chastised, in Jerusalem than elsewhere, therefore the hand of the destroyer is stretched out upon that city; but the Lord repented him of the evil, changed not his mind, but his way. In the very place where Abraham was stayed from slaying his son, this angel, by a like countermand, was stayed from destroying Jerusalem. It is for the sake of the great Sacrifice, that our forfeited lives are preserved from the destroying angel. And in David is the spirit of a true shepherd of the people, offering himself as a sacrifice to God, for the salvation of his subjects.

18-25 God's encouraging us to offer to him spiritual sacrifices, is an evidence of his reconciling us to himself. David purchased the ground to build the altar. God hates robbery for burnt-offering. Those know not what religion is, who chiefly care to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. For what have we our substance, but to honour God with it; and how can it be better bestowed? See the building of the altar, and the offering proper sacrifices upon it. Burnt-offerings to the glory of God's justice; peace-offerings to the glory of his mercy. Christ is our Altar, our Sacrifice; in him alone we may expect to escape his wrath, and to find favour with God. Death is destroying all around, in so many forms, and so suddenly, that it is madness not to expect and prepare for the close of life.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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