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David Guzik's Commentaries
on the Bible

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2 Samuel 24 - David and the Census

A. David commands a census to be taken

1. (1-2) David is moved to take a census

2. (3-4) Joab objects, but he is over-ruled by David

3. (5-9) The census is taken

a. The results showed that there were 1,300,000 fighting men among the twelve tribes, reflecting a total population of about 6 million

B. David's guilt and God's punishment

1. (10) David knows that he has done wrong in numbering the people

a. Why was it wrong to take a census? God desired that in Israel, a census should only be taken if it was commanded by God, because the concept was strong that you were only to count what you owned, and Israel belongs to God, not to David

i. Also, knowing the population of the Israel could be a source of pride and false confidence for David

b. If it was wrong, why did God direct David to do it? Because the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel (2 Samuel 24:1)

c. Why was God angry and David and Israel? Evidently, David and Israel had pride, vain glory and self confidence in their hearts

i. God prompted David to make a census in order to publicly display the attitude of his and the nation's heart

ii. God did not make David do something he did not want to do; God removed the roadblocks so David could do the sin his heart was desiring

d. The parallel account of this in 1 Chronicles 21 points out something important, yet difficult to grasp: that Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel (1 Chronicles 21:1)

i. Did God do it or did Satan do it? The answer is both; God allowed it for His purpose (to expose the sin of pride and self-reliance already in the heart of David and the nation at large), and Satan did what God allowed him to do for his purposes (to destroy David and Israel)

2. (11-13) David is allowed to choose his judgment: either seven years of famine, three months of subjection to enemies, or three days of plague in Israel

3. (14) David chooses the three days of plague

a. He wisely chooses the form of judgment that has the least to do with man (seven years of famine would leave Israel at the mercy of its neighbors)

b. In this, David shows great trust in God's mercy shown

4. (15-17) The plague of destruction hits Israel severely

a. God spares Jerusalem, and David intercedes for the city with the angel of the Lord (perhaps Jesus?) who has stopped the destruction at the threshing floor of Araunah

b. Like a true shepherd, David asks that the punishment be upon him and his own household; but God has other plans

C. David builds an altar

1. (18-21) David instructed to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah

2. (22-24) Refusing the gift of Araunah, David buys the threshing floor

a. In doing so, David displays an important principle: we must give more to God than what is merely convenient! God deserves our sacrifices

3. (25) David builds an altar, and offers sacrifices pleasing to God; the plague is withdrawn

a. 1 Chronicles 21:26 tells us that God showed His acceptance of David's sacrifice by consuming it with fire from heaven

b. "Threshing floors were usually on a height, in order to catch every breeze; some area to the north of David's city is indicated" (Baldwin)

c. This spot was important; this land purchased by David would be the site of Solomon's temple (1 Chronicles 21:28-22:5)

i. 2 Chronicles 3:1 tells us that the threshing floor of Araunah was on Mount Moriah; the same hill where Abraham offered Isaac (Genesis 22:2), and the same set of hills where Jesus died on the cross (Genesis 22:14)

d. The life of David does not end here; he survives long enough to pass on his kingdom to his son Solomon

i. But David's greatest legacy is found in his greater Son; remember how the New Testament begins: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David


Copyright Statement
David Guzik's Commentaries on the Bible are reproduced by permission of David Guzik, Siegen, Germany. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Guzik, David. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 24". "David Guzik's Commentaries
on the Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=2sa&chapter=024>. 1997-2003.  

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