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We have, in this chapter, a part of David's history, the date of which is not certain. He is here in a state of trespassing against the Lord, by numbering the people. The prophet Gad is sent to reprove him, and to propose to his choice one of three plagues with which the Lord would chastise him. We have also the relation of the chastisement, and David's repentance.
(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. (2) For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Daniel even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
It is more than probable that David's sin, on this occasion, was, that he was looking for strength from numbers more than from the LORD. And Satan found occasion to blow up this pride of David into a flame of rebellion against the LORD. Alas! what is man in his highest attainments, if but for a moment left to himself and his own government? Well might David, from his own experience, put up the prayer which he did upon another occasion; Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins. Psalms 19:13 .
(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? (4) Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. (5) And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer: (6) Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon, (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. (8) So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. (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.
It is worthy remark how ineffectual all advice is when grace leads us not. This childish gratification of David, to speak the best of it, seems to have had so little temptation to lead to the commission of this sin, that we only wonder, at times, how it is that believers, who had been victorious upon great temptations, have fallen by the less. But it is grace makes all the difference. If JESUS keep us, we are safe. If the holding up his arm be but for a moment withdrawn, all our strength gives way to the most pitiful temptation. One should have thought the number both of Israel and of Judah would have been greater. It was now about four hundred and thirty years from the time that Joshua brought the people into Canaan; and yet the increase had not been much above double in all that time.
(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. (11) For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, (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. (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 in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
Though David's sin seems plainly to have been the sin of presumption, in trusting more to an arm of flesh than in the LORD GOD of his salvation; yet, it must be confessed, that both in the sin, and in the proposed punishment, we have not so clear marks to form our conclusions as to speak with certainty.
That GOD should propose what kind of punishment the sinner would choose, appears difficult to explain. I confess that I am much inclined to look at the whole subject in a gospel sense, and consider the representation here made, the shadow of good things to come. And I am the more inclined to this idea from what is said concerning it in the very opening of the chapter; that the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. It was a national sin, not a personal sin only, in the case of David's numbering the people. And as such, did it not intimate the universal state of man by sin and transgression, all subject to death and destruction! Reader! if we regard it in this point of view, how directly it leads the soul to the redemption by JESUS. When sinners are brought under a deep sense of sin, and accept (as it is called) the punishment of their iniquity; they are then brought into a state of grace for the cordial reception of the gospel of JESUS. See Leviticus 26:41 .
(14) And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: 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. (15) So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Daniel even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
It is worthy our observation, that this memorable transaction was on the very spot where in ages before the LORD showed mercy to Abraham, even on mount Moriah. And this I cannot but think becomes a further confirmation of what I before suggested. Surely so grand an object as the redemption of our sinful nature by the sacrifice of JESUS, was deservedly shadowed forth, at various times, to the several ages of the faithful which were so highly interested in it. Hence Abraham is commanded to sacrifice, his son; and the pestilence to Israel lays the foundation for the introduction of this sacrifice again, in the same spot, on mount Moriah. See Genesis 22:2 . See also 2 Chronicles 3:1 .
(16) And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite. (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. (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. (19) And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. (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. (21) And Araunah said, Wherefore 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 from the people. (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 of the oxen for wood. (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. (24) And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; 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. (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 from Israel.
I do not think it necessary to interrupt the reading of those verses with any observation on the conduct and generosity either of David or Araunah; because what I chiefly wish to have impressed on the Reader's mind, is the shadowy representation it seemeth to possess, of the gospel dispensation by the LORD JESUS. I beg the Reader to observe, however, that I do not presume to say that my views of this passage are right. I leave him to a wiser and better direction concerning them. I confess that I love to search for JESUS, as for hidden treasure, in all the parts of his most holy word. And convinced, as I fully am, that to him the whole of revelation points, I would pass over all lesser objects, so that I may but find him. And when I consider how particularly the prophet Gad commanded David to rear an altar in this spot, mount Moriah, which Abraham had before found so memorable, when I observe further, that this was the same spot on which Solomon built his famous temple, which also was an evident type of CHRIST; and when I consider that CHRIST himself is both the altar, the sacrifice, and the sacrificer, for us; and that GOD our FATHER, for his sake, and for his sake alone, is entreated for the land, and the plague and everlasting destruction for sin is now stayed from Israel; I rejoice to behold JESUS through those distant mediums so graciously held forth to the church, and cannot but find my heart going forth in songs of holy joy, that the same is he of whom Moses, and the prophets, and patriarchs, did write, JESUS of Nazareth; Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:12 .
READER! with this chapter we close this sacred book of GOD, which brings us in point of historical relation, very nearly, though not completely so, to the end of David's life. Let us not close it, however, until that we have first blessed the LORD for so truly valuable a part of the Old Testament records: and more especially, for that part of David's history contained in it, which bears evident allusion to the Great Redeemer of mankind, of whom, in many instances, David was a lively type. It is a precious thing, and most highly to be valued by the true believer in JESUS, when we are led to see the tenderness and love of GOD our FATHER to the church, in thus holding forth, under such a variety of similitudes, and representations, to the early ages, the prominent features of a redemption, which was, in the fulness of time to be wrought out, and completed by his dear Son. And it is as thankfully to be remembered by the believer, in honour and glory to the HOLY GHOST, that in his blessed office of glorifying the LORD JESUS, he hath so sweetly caused to be recorded, for the exercise of the faith of Old Testament saints, as well as the establishment of New Testament believers, the very many outlines of His person and offices, whose one glorious work of salvation, hath perfected forever, them that are sanctified!
Hail! Holy! Holy! Holy! Undivided THREE IN ONE; FATHER, SON, and HOLY GHOST! Blessed be the LORD GOD, JEHOVAH, for all his covenant love, and mercy, in JESUS! and for all the precious records this book contains, of the glorious events of redemption by him. And, oh! thou dearest JESUS, thou blessed Reconciler of a gracious GOD with poor fallen man! Thou art the Author, the means, the end, the sum, the substance of all true peace in the church, above and below. Give me to see thee, blessed JESUS, as David did, as the gracious Interposer, to stay the destroying angel's hand over Jerusalem. And may my soul go up to the threshingfloor of the poor Jebusite, to offer the sacrifice of thine own blood and righteousness; and these, on thine own sacred Person, the Altar which sanctifieth the gift; that I may find peace with GOD, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD. And blessed, forever blessed be the GOD of peace, which brought again from the dead, our LORD JESUS CHRIST, through the blood of the everlasting Covenant, that he hath been entreated for our guilty land, and the plague of sin, death, hell, and the grave, is forever stayed from his Israel. All our peace is made in the blood of the cross; and henceforth, there is now no condemnation to them which are in CHRIST JESUS , who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Amen, and Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 24". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26