II Samuel 24

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

DAVID'S SIN IN TAKING THE CENSUS

INTRODUCTION:

As we move into the final chapter of II Samuel, we see David sinning against the LORD by numbering the people of Israel. Why do you suppose that the Holy Spirit directed that this chapter be included in II Samuel?

Might it be to show that pride leads us to do things we shouldn't do? This lesson appears in II Samuel 24 .

Might it be to show us that we should be putting our trust in the LORD rather than in the size of our military? This lesson also appears in II Samuel 24 .

Might it be to show how David acquired the land on which the temple would eventually be built? This is also observed in II Samuel 24 .

Might it be for a dozen or more other reasons which have not occurred to us? Absolutely.

Romans 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

We see that -

I. DAVID INSTRUCTS JOAB TO TAKE THE CENSUS - 24:1-2

II Samuel 24:1 - And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

We are not told why the LORD was angry with Israel. Might it have been because of the people's support of Absalom and Sheba against David? Yes, but we really don't know why.

It is interesting that I Chronicles 21:1 states that it was Satan who actually prompted David to number the people.

I Chronicles 21:1 - And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

How can we explain this? First, we realize that there is no contradiction. Both statements are true. The Lord moved David against Israel to say, Go, number Israel and Judah as is stated in II Samuel 24:1 . Furthermore, Satan did in fact provoke David to number Israel as is stated in I Chronicles 21:1 . God allowed Satan to tempt David.

Although God is not the author of sin, He does permit sin and causes it to serve His purposes. The best way to explain this is that the Lord allowed Satan to prompt David to do something he should not do in order that Israel might be punished for Israel's sin and in order that David might learn a lesson he needed to learn.

Similarly, the Lord permitted Satan to trouble Job in Job 1:12 and 2:6 and also allowed an evil spirit to torment Saul in I Samuel 16:14 .

Job 1:8-12 - 8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? 9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought [i.e. for no reason]? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

Job 2:2-6 - 2 And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 3 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. 4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. 5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. 6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.

I Samuel 16:14 - But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Back to II Samuel 24

II Samuel 24:2 - For the king said to Joab the captain of the host [i.e. army], which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.

We also see that -

II. JOAB AND THE CAPTAINS OF THE ARMY OBJECT TO THE CENSUS - 24:3

II Samuel 24:3 - And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?

I Chronicles 21:3 states similarly -

I Chronicles 21:3 - And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he [i.e. my lord, David] be a cause of trespass [i.e. sin, guilt] to Israel?

Next, in spite of Joab's warning to David that numbering the people would be sin or bring guilt upon Israel, we see that David refused to change his mind and -

III. THE CENSUS WAS COMPLETED - 24:4-9

II Samuel 24:4 - Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host [i.e. army]. And Joab and the captains of the host [i.e. army] went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.

II Samuel 24:5 - And they passed over Jordan, and pitched [i.e. camped] in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:

If you check this out on a map, you will see that those taking the census started out east of the Jordan River and went in a counterclockwise direction.

II Samuel 24:6 - Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,

Next, they went north to Dan and then west to Sidon and Tyre.

II Samuel 24:7 - And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.

They continued south to Beersheba before returning to Jerusalem.

II Samuel 24:8 - So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

II Samuel 24:9 - And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

Inasmuch as the census reported only the number of warriors in Israel and not the number of men, women, and children, it appears that the purpose of the census was to see the numerical strength of the men of military age. Although taking a census was not necessarily sin in and of itself, what David did in taking this census suggests that David was relying on the number of warriors rather than on God.

Do not misunderstand me. I am in favor of having the strongest military in the world, but the strongest military in the world can be defeated if God so directs.

Even better than having the strongest military in the world would be having the godliest nation in the world. Unfortunately, even though it is possible that we may still be the godliest nation in the world, this would only be because the others are even more ungodly than we are. The good old USA is quickly moving away from being a godly nation; and it will lead to our eventual downfall.

There is a lesson for us in this. Regardless of how great our trust has been in the LORD in the past, it is easy to begin to trust in things other than the LORD rather than trusting exclusively in the LORD. Realize that I am not against alarm systems, skillful driving, smoke detectors, or sound financial management; but I can begin to trust in my alarm system to take care of my home when I am away. I can begin to trust in my skill as a driver to keep me safe from accidents. I can begin to trust in my smoke detectors to awaken me in case there is a fire. I can begin to trust in my financial management rather in the LORD's provision of my needs. We must be careful that we do not lose sight of Who the real protector of our lives is. Our old sin natures are of absolutely no help whatsoever to us, and they never will be.

After the census was completed, we see that -

IV. DAVID WAS CONVICTED OF SIN IN NUMBERING THE PEOPLE - 24:10

It's too bad David didn't listen to Joab's advice, but remember that God was in control of this. God was going to punish Israel for sin and teach David a lesson he needed to learn.

II Samuel 24:10 - And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

Proverbs 28:13 - He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

I John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Note, however, that just because David confessed his sin and was forgiven, God still chastised him. We learn that although confession of sin will result in forgiveness of sin and a restoring of a right relationship with God, it does not automatically eliminate all the temporal consequences of sin. These may still follow in spite of the confession of the sin.

Hebrews 12:5-11 - 5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

In addition, we see that -

V. GAD DELIVERED THE WORD OF THE LORD TO DAVID - 24:11-13

II Samuel 24:11 - For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,

II Samuel 24:12 - Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

II Samuel 24:13 - So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence [i.e. three days' plague] in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

Furthermore, we see -

VI. DAVID'S CHOICE OF PUNISHMENTS - 24:14

II Samuel 24:14 - And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait [i.e. in great distress]: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.

David made a good choice.

As a result, we see -

VII. THE PLAGUE - 24:15-16

II Samuel 24:15 - So the LORD sent a pestilence [i.e. a plague] upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men [it is not necessarily limited to adult males but can mean seventy thousand people].

II Samuel 24:16 - And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him [i.e. relented] of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay [i.e. restrain] now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

Next, we see -

VIII. DAVID'S ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SIN - 24:17

II Samuel 24:17 - And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.

David had indeed sinned; but remember verse 1 says, And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. . . .; so, David's question, What have they done?, even though it reflects David's thinking, seems a bit out of place.

As a result of David's acknowledgment of sin, we see -

IX. GAD'S INSTRUCTION TO DAVID - 24:18

II Samuel 24:18 - And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.

Finally, we see -

X. DAVID'S OBEDIENCE TO THE LORD'S COMMAND - 24:19-25

II Samuel 24:19 - And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.

II Samuel 24:20 - And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.

II Samuel 24:21 - And Araunah said, Wherefore [i.e. Why] is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed [i.e. stopped, held back, withdrawn] from the people.

II Samuel 24:22 - And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments [i.e. and the yokes] of the oxen for wood.

II Samuel 24:23 - All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.

II Samuel 24:24 - And the king said unto Araunah, Nay [i.e. No]; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

When we compare verse 24 with I Chronicles 21:25 , we note that there is a difference. How do we explain the difference? People who do not believe the Bible claim that there is a contradiction between the two passages.

I Chronicles 21:25 - So David gave to Ornan [i.e. a variant spelling for Araunah] for the place [i.e. for the site] six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

There is no contradiction here. 50 shekels of silver was for the oxen and the threshing floor; whereas, 600 shekels of gold was for the entire site, i.e. the land surrounding the threshing floor.

50 shekels of silver would be about 1 1/4 pounds or 20 ounces of silver. 600 shekels of gold would be about 15 pounds of gold or 240 ounces of gold. On Tuesday of this week silver sold for $14.43/ounce; and gold sold for $1,089.20/ounce. Thus, in today's currency the threshing floor and oxen sold for the equivalent of $288.60 and the site sold for the equivalent of $261,408.00.

II Samuel 24:25 - And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed [i.e. held back, stopped, withdrawn] from Israel.

Interestingly enough, the location of Araunah's threshing floor was the same place where Abraham had offered Isaac upon the altar and where the temple would eventually be built.