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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
2 Samuel 24

 

 

Verse 1

2 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.

Ver. 1. And again the anger of the Lord.] Again, after the late three years’ famine for Saul’s sin, and the late slaughter of twenty thousand for rebelling with Absalom, this plague of pestilence is sent - as they seldom go sundered - for the injury done to Uriah - saith Rupertus - who is named in the last verse of the former chapter; but more likely it was for some general sin of the whole land; whether it were their recently revolting from David, or their putting too much confidence in their king and his worthies; or the abuse of their present peace and plenty; or whatever else, God was displeased, and David so far abandoned and left to himself, that he yielded to that satanical suggestion, which brought the people’s ruth and ruin.

And he moved David against them.] God did; Satan also did, [1 Chronicles 21:1] being let loose upon David for the purpose: like as the dog may be said to bait the beast; and the owner of the beasts that suffereth him to be baited. (a)

Go, number Israel and Judah.] This was the last act that he did before he took his bed. And some Hebrews say, that he was so grieved at the common calamity that followed upon his sin, and so terrified at the sight of the punishing angel, that thereupon he took his bed, and was so infirm, as 1 Kings 1:1. It was not simply unlawful for him to number the people; but he did it out of curiosity and creature confidence. David - otherwise devoted to God’s holy fear [Psalms 119:38] - had not now the fear of the Lord swaying in his soul, which teacheth to hate evil, even inward evils, such as lie in the bosom and bottom of the soul, as "pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way," [Proverbs 8:13] those "spiritual wickednesses," and more immediate affronts offered to the Divine Majesty; with which God is more angry, than with a fleshly crime, though heinously seconded, such as was David’s sin in the matter of Uriah.


Verse 2

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

Ver. 2. That I may know the number of the people.] As I have lately taken notice and made a catalogue of my worthies, and the forces under their command. This Augustus Caesar might do for his pleasure, and carry it away without punishment. [Luke 2:1] Not so David. God will take that from others that he will not bear with in his own. [Amos 3:2] The Philistines might cart the ark, but David smarted for so doing.


Verse 3

2 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?

Ver. 3. And Joab said.] His conscience told him that David did this out of curiosity and vainglory, whereof he foresaw the evil effects, [1 Chronicles 21:3] and therefore doth what he can to dissuade him. And lest David should suspect that he did it out of any disaffection to him, he wisheth an increase of the people’s numbers; and that David might see it to his great joy and comfort.

But why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?] q.d., Why art thou so set upon it, without any colour of cause, and merely for thy mind’s sake? A man that would consult with himself, could not but confess, that both himself and all men and means whereon he reposeth, are as much as nothing. But he doth with them as some folks do by dogs and monkeys; they know they be paltry carrion beasts, yet they set great store by them, and take great delight in them, for their mind’s sake only.


Verse 4

2 Samuel 24:4 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.

Ver. 4. Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed.] He would have his way contra gentes; and not be borne down, though by never so good reason. Sometimes both grace and wit are asleep in the holiest and wariest breasts. The best kings have been from time to time too sovereign, as the schoolman phraseth it.


Verse 5

2 Samuel 24:5 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:

Ver. 5. And pitched in Aroer.] A city of the Gadites. [Numbers 32:34] Here they pitched with their bands and troops, probably to overawe the people, who might be ill-willing and discontented at such an unnecessary trouble and charge, especially if poll-money were now required of them; which kind of taxation being here in England first granted to Edward III, became a precedent for the next reign; and caused therein the first and greatest popular insurrection that ever was seen in this kingdom. (a)


Verse 6

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

Ver. 6. To the land of Tahtimhodshi.] In terram inferiorem recens comparatam, into the lower lands recently conquered; sc., in the days of Saul, [1 Chronicles 5:10] so Junius rendereth, and senseth it.


Verse 7

2 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.

Ver. 7. And to all the cities of the Hivites.] Who would dwell among the Israelites, and could not be gotten out. [ 1:31-32] So nothing is more pertinacious than a strong lust.


Verse 8

2 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.

Ver. 8. At the end of nine months and twenty days.] So long lay David in his sin unrepented of. It hath before been noted that God’s children may not only be drenched in the waves of sin, but lie in them for the time; and perhaps sink twice to the bottom, &c.


Verse 9

2 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.

Ver. 9. And there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men.] Another prophet saith, eleven hundred thousand, [1 Chronicles 21:5] taking in Levi and Benjamin, which Joab reckoned not. [1 Chronicles 21:6] The men of Judah also were five hundred thousand men. Now a man would wonder at so great numbers in so small a land: for Judea was not above two hundred miles long and fifty miles broad, say geographers; not near the half of England by much. These great numbers were somewhat abated by the following pestilence: like as the English lately were by the sweating sickness, which reigned here some forty years together, and slew so many, that strangers wondered how this island could be so populous, to bear and bury such incredible multitudes.


Verse 10

2 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.

Ver. 10. And David’s heart smote him.] His heart had prompted him to this sin. Incitavit cor Davidis Davidem; so David Kimchi, and R. Levi, Ben. Gerson read the first verse of this chapter. Nemo sibi de suo palpet; quisque sibi Satan est, saith an ancient. Every man is tempted, when he is drawn aside by his own concupiscence. Now the same heart smiteth him with sense of guilt, and fear of wrath. A stroke on the heart we know is deadly: so had this been to David, but that he confessed and forsook his sin, and so found mercy. All which fell out, some think, the night before the prophet Gad came to offer him that hard choice; he had communed with his own heart upon his bed, and made a pause, as Psalms 4:4, his reins also had instructed him in the night seasons, [Psalms 16:7] the Spirit of God had given him counsel; and hence he is so active in his humiliations. David’s heart smote him; he stayed not till God smote him. The apostle biddeth, "Be afliicted" - or, Afflict yourselves - "and mourn and weep." [James 4:9] That was much that we read of concerning Epaminondas, a heathen; that the day after the victory and triumph, he went drooping and hanging down his head: and being asked why he did so, he answered, Yesterday I felt myself too much tickled with vain glory: therefore I correct myself for it today. The same is the spirit of the true Israelite. His heart, when once awakened, is a Hadadrimmon, a Bochim; like the best hives, it maketh a great noise, and is restless, till it returneth to God, and maketh its peace.

After that he had numbered the people.] It had done so, likely, before this time; but not effectually. So after his sin with Bathsheba, he had many gripings, and grumblings of conscience, [Psalms 32:3-4] but they amounted not to the full height of godly sorrow for his sin, as afterwards. [Psalms 51:1-19]

I have sinned greatly.] He confesseth not slightly, but with greatest aggravation; nor desperately, as Judas, but beggeth pardoning and purging grace.

Take away the iniquity of thy servant.] Take away the frogs, saith Pharaoh; the iniquity, saith David; that was his greatest trouble; for, as for the punishment, "Let thine hand," saith he, "be upon me and my father’s house."

For I have done very foolishly.] He thought, at first, he had done very wisely; but now he seeth his error, and disclaimeth it. We had before, his contrition, confession, and supplication, all which make up his repentance for sin: here we have his conversion or reformation, which is his repentance from sin: his amendment of life.


Verse 11

2 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,

Ver. 11. And when David was up in the morning.] Having prayed the night afore in faith, that God would take away his iniquity, and own him for his servant, for he knew that he had deserved to be discountenanced and rejected for ever. His sin was doubtless pardoned; but in his people - his pride - he must be punished. Gad therefore cometh to him, and saith in effect, as that other prophet did to the wife of Jeroboam, [1 Kings 14:6] "I am sent to thee with heavy tidings."


Verse 12

2 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.

Ver. 12. Go and say unto David.] Plain David, now. Once it was, Go tell my servant David, [2 Samuel 7:5] but now the case is altered. So when Israel had set up an idol, then God owneth them no longer; but fathereth them upon Moses. [Exodus 32:7]

I offer thee three things.] But such as whichsoever thou choosest, demet et demetet numerum hunc ingentem Israelis, itaque sternet tuam superbiam, (a) it shall pull a crow with thee, and bring down thy pride.


Verse 13

2 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 in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.

Ver. 13. Shall seven years of famine?] That is, Shall there to the three bygone years of famine, and to this Sabbatical year - qui nova messe destitutus priora damna resarcire non potest, which, having no new harvest, cannot make up the losses of the last years - be added three more such? [1 Chronicles 21:11]

Or that there be three days’ pestilence in the land?] An extraordinary pestilence, inflicted by the hand of a destroying angel. Hippocrates Pestem το Yειον, vocat. (a) But how happy was Ferdinand III, king of Spain, who reigned thirty-five years, and during all that time there was neither famine nor pestilence in his dominions. (b)


Verse 14

2 Samuel 24:14 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.

Ver. 14. I am in a great strait.] Great sins bring great snares, as on Samson. And of the wicked Job saith, that "in the fulness of his sufficiency he is in straits."

Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord,] q.d., Let me be chastised rather by a Father, who is all heart, than by such as whose tender mercies are mere cruelties. It is indeed a fearful thing to fall into the punishing hands of the living God; [Hebrews 10:31] that is, when he taketh to do [with] rebels and reprobates, such as despite the Spirit of grace, and tread under foot the blood of the covenant. But hath he smitten any of his as he smote those that smote him? Or is he slain? &c. No; but "in measure" - in the branches only, not at the root - "thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind, in the day of the east wind." [Isaiah 27:7-8]


Verse 15

2 Samuel 24:15 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

Ver. 15. From the morning, even to the appointed time,] i.e., Till toward the evening of the third day; for before that whole day was over God repented, and bade the angel hold his hand. See Jeremiah 18:8; Jeremiah 18:10, Jonah 3:10. Vatablus, by the appointed time here, understandeth the evening of the first day, and cometh in with Hoc commendat misericordiam Dei, &c., this commendeth the mercy of God; that for three days threatened, he sendeth the pestilence one day only.

And there died of the people.] Some, saith Josephus, died suddenly, with great pains, and bitter pangs; some lingered longer, and died under the physicians’ hands; some were all of a sudden smitten with blindness, and then with death; some, as they went to bury their dead, fell down dead themselves. The sweating sickness here in England - which began in the year 1486, and lasted almost forty years - was strange and violent; for if a man was attacked therewith he died, or escaped within nine hours, or ten at the most. If he took cold, he died within three hours. If he slept within six hours, as he should be desirous to do, he died raving, &c. (a) From England it went over the seas to Holland, Zealand, Denmark, Norway, &c., chasing only the English there, as some report, which made them, like tyrants, both feared and avoided wherever they came. (b)


Verse 16

2 Samuel 24:16 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.

Ver. 16. And when the angel stretched out his hand,] viz., To execute his commission. Even the good angels are ready executioners of God’s judgments, as here, and at Sodom. There cannot be a better or more noble act than to do justice upon malefactors: it is an office beseeming an angel.

The Lord repented him of the evil.] This was mutatio Rei non Dei; for God is not as man, that he can repent. [Numbers 23:19] {See Trapp on "2 Samuel 24:15"}

The threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.] That noble Jebusite, famous in later ages. [Zechariah 9:7]


Verse 17

2 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.

Ver. 17. The angel that smote the people.] For the king’s offence. Great men’s sins do more hurt than others; (1.) By imitation; (2.) By imputation; for plectuntur Achivi. Howbeit, the people also had deserved destruction for their many foul enormities; especially for the abuse of their peace, and contempt of God’s word, as Bede noteth of the Britons, anne Christi 420, who were therefore visited with such a contagious plague, that the living were scarce able to bury the dead.

And said, Lo, I have sinned.] Hitherto he offered not himself to the plague, saith Chrysostom, because he still expected and made account to be taken away by it. Now, seeing it was God’s will to spare him, he crieth out, Ecce ego peccavi, En ego qui feci, in me convertito ferrum. Mr Bradford, martyr, in a certain holy letter of his, writeth thus: - Let the anger and plagues of God, most justly fallen upon us, be applied to every one of our deserts, that from the bottom of our hearts every one of us may say, It is I, Lord, that have sinned against thee; it is mine hypocrisy, vain glory, covetousness, uncleanness, carnality, security, idleness unthankfulness self-love, and such like, which have deserved the taking away of our good king, of thy word and true religion, of thy good ministry, by exile, imprisonment, and death, &c. (a)

But these sheep, what have they done?] They had done enough to draw upon them this destruction; but he, as a good Shepherd ( ποιμην, q.d., οιμην), (b) offereth himself to punishment, that they may go free. Chrysostom writeth, that the Capadocian shepherds, and the Lydian likewiss suffer much hardship by heat and cold, for the good of their flocks. (c) Jacob did so for the good of Laban; [Genesis 31:6] but never any like Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd, who not only offered, but freely gave his life for his sheep. [John 10:11]


Verse 18

2 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.

Ver. 18. And Gad came.] By the command of God’s angel, [1 Chronicles 21:18] after that David and the elders had humbled themselves and prayed (ib.), and after that Zadok the priest had stood in his priestly attire between the living and the dead, to make atonement, as Aaron sometime had done, say the Hebrews in Jerome; but this latter is not so certain.

In the threshlng floor of Araunah the Jebusite.] Which was in mount Moriah, where Abraham was ready to have offered his son Isaac, and where afterwards stood the temple. [2 Chronicles 3:1] But what was the threshing floor of a Jebusite to God above all other soils? As in places, so in persons, that is worthiest which he pleaseth to accept.


Verse 19

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

Ver. 19. Went up, as the Lord commanded.] This figured out, say some, (a) the faith amongst the Gentries, to whom the Jews must come by believing in like manner, if ever they will be saved.


Verse 20

2 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.

Ver. 20. And Araunah looked and saw the king.] After that he had first seen the angel, [1 Chronicles 21:20] whom scarce any of the Israelites, except David, had yet seen.

And Araunah went out,] sc., Out of the place where he had hid himself, together with his sons.


Verse 21

2 Samuel 24:21 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.

Ver. 21 Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant?] This, he thought, was stupenda dignatio, a wonderful condescension. What is it, then, that the great God should come unto us? [Psalms 101:2] should dwell in us, and walk in us [2 Corinthians 6:16] and sup with us? [Revelation 3:20] should manifest himself to us, and not to the world? [John 14:22]


Verse 22

2 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 of the oxen for wood.

Ver. 22. Let my lord the king take and offer up.] In this fright, and for expedition’s sake, he maketh this frank offer, being ready to spend and be spent for the public good.


Verse 23

2 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.

Ver. 23. All these things did Araunah as a king give unto the king.] He had a princely spirit, though but a subject’s purse: Regum aequabat opes animis, as Virgil saith (a) of that old Tarentine. Some (b) think that he had been a king of the Jebusites, and was now in great esteem with David, as being a proselyte, and his friend.


Verse 24

2 Samuel 24:24 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.

Ver. 24. Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee.] That I may honour the Lord with my substance, [Proverbs 3:9] and be at cost for him, as she was with her spikenard of great price, [John 12:3] and as Justinian the emperor with his rich communion table, which had in it, saith Cedrenus, all the riches of land and sea. David’s preparations for building the temple, where now he built an altar, were exceeding great, as shall be seen hereafter.

For fifty shekels of silver.] But the whole place and ground, with the houses where the temple was afterwards built, cost him six hundred shekels of gold. [1 Chronicles 21:25]


Verse 25

2 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 from Israel.

Ver. 25. And David built there an altar.] A type of Christ, the true altar, [Hebrews 13:10] who was also to offer up himself as a slain sacrifice at Jerusalem, "an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour." [Ephesians 5:2] To him be glory in the churches, world without end. Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 24:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/2-samuel-24.html. 1865-1868.

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Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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