The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Samuel

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2 Samuel 24

2Sa 24:1

2Sa 24: "The final chapter of the book reveals David in a wonderful light. His character, moulded by the trials of life, is shown to be mindful of his people as a mediator in Israel's time of trouble. The people had been guilty of rejecting Yahweh's Anointed, and were deserving of punishment. David, too, was deserving of chastisement, for in numbering Israel he was putting confidence in the flesh. Yet, in those circumstances, he was put under trial and manifested a gracious and godly response. So the record sets out: (1) David unwisely numbers Israel: vv 1-4. (2) The route of the census: vv 5-8. Details provided show the importance of the counting. (3) The result of the census: v 9. It was not fully completed (1Ch 21:6). (4) David is rebuked; His choice of punishment: vv 10-14. David recognised his fault. It was a sin of the heart: pride or resting on flesh. Perhaps he wanted to find out how large a following he could command. If so he acted entirely out of character. It would constitute a deserting of Yahweh, and putting on flesh. Three choices were given to him. Had he chosen war, his own personal safety would have been in no danger, for he no longer went forth to battle. Had he chosen famine, his position and wealth would have guaranteed his own immunity, and that of his family. In choosing pestilence, he deliberately shared the risks that fell on the whole nation without respect of persons. (5) The plague: vv 15-17. (6) Purchase of the threshing floor: vv 18-25. The place became the site of the great altar of the temple, and on that account too this was a significant incident" (GEM).

AND HE INCITED: "One" -- indefinite. Called "Satan" in 1Ch 21:1. Is it an angel of the LORD who acts as the "adversary" here?

2Sa 24:3

David was depending on fleshly power, not God: Note Jdg 7:2-7; 1Sa 14:6; 17:47; Lev 26:3,7; Jer 17:5. The census was not wrong in itself (cp Num 1:3). Therefore, sin must have been in motive. A census must have been accompanied by tax (Exo 20:12). Was money needed by David for building temple (1Ch 22)? Or, perhaps, military ambition (OP 23:322). See 1Ch 27:24n.

WHY DOES MY LORD THE KING WANT TO DO SUCH A THING?: 'Why can't you see that the strength and increase of the nation is of the LORD?'

2Sa 24:5

AROER: Sig "heath": "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush (sw 'aroer') in the wastelands..." (Jer 17:5-8).

2Sa 24:10

I HAVE SINNED: There is a radical distinction between natural regret and God-given repentance. The flesh can feel remorse, acknowledge its evil deeds, and be ashamed of itself. However, this sort of disgust with past actions can be quickly shrugged off, and the individual can soon go back to his old wicked ways. None of the marks of true repentance described in 2Co 7:11 are found in his behavior. Out of a list of 11 men in the Bible who said, "I have sinned," poss only five actually repented. They were David (2Sa 12:13; 24:10; 1Ch 21:8; Psa 41:4), Nehemiah (Neh. 1:6), Job (Job 42:5,6), Micah (Mic 7:9), and the prodigal son (Luk 15:18). The other (poss less sincere) instances? Pharaoh in Exo 9:27; 10:16; Balaam in Num 22:34; Achan in Jos 7:20; Saul in 1Sa 15:24,30; 26:21; Shimei in 2Sa 19:20; Judas in Mat 27:4.

2Sa 24:13

THREE YEARS OF FAMINE: The Heb has "seven years". Cp 2Sa 21:1: there had already been 3 years of famine; this is the 4th year; and the 3 more years of 1Ch 21:12 will make a total of 7 years (Dawn 59:6).

2Sa 24:14

David chooses the only one of the 3 possibilities that did not offer royal immunity: (a) even in a famine, the king's house would have some food; (b) David no longer went out to battle.

2Sa 24:17

THESE ARE BUT SHEEP. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?: David does not point out that they have done WORSE! (Cp Moses in Exo 32:32.)

2Sa 24:24

I WILL NOT SACRIFICE TO THE LORD MY GOD BURNT OFFERINGS THAT COST ME NOTHING: Likewise, our service to God should not cost us nothing! "He who has a religion that costs him nothing, has a religion that is worth nothing" (Clarke).

"One of the greatest paradoxes in all of Scripture is that the greatest of all gifts in life, our salvation, comes as a FREE gift that costs us EVERYTHING. Jesus told his disciples, 'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' Perhaps time and familiarity deny us the full impact of this metaphor that Jesus uses. Jesus is telling us we must take up his mission. This is not a mission that costs nothing. Anyone who is carrying a cross off to his own brutal execution in the metaphorical manner of Christ is committed to the fullest extent possible. It is to this complete dedication which the Apostle Paul refers in Rom 12 when he says, 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.'

"King David understood that had he accepted Ornan's sacrifice, Ornan would have made a sacrifice, but David would not have given anything. David, a thousand years before his 'greater son', knew that he must take up his cross. Do we?" (KT).

FIFTY SHEKELS: A discrepancy between 2Sa 24:24 and 1Ch 21:25? The price of the threshing floor alone was 50 shekels of silver, while the price of the entire "site" or "place" (that is, the holy place or sanctuary) of mount Moriah was 600 shekels of gold.

Was David paying the atonement money for all the nation? A parable of redemption.
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