2Samuel 22-24

Sunday Evening Bible Study

May 12, 2002


We are at the end of David’s reign.

2Samuel 22

:1 And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul:

This is almost identical to Psalm 18.

There are some slight difference from Psalm 18, but Spurgeon suggests that this is because David had this song sung on different occasions, editing it slightly to fit the occasion.

It seems that this is not something that chronologically follows the previous chapter. This is a Psalm that was tacked on to the end of the history. This was written earlier, towards the beginning of David’s reign, after the death of Saul.

:2-4 God is my help

:2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

rockcela‘– crag, cliff, rock

fortressmatsuwd – net, prey, net prey; fastness, stronghold

delivererpalat – to escape, save, deliver, slip away

:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

shield – something the protects you.

horn – a symbol of strength – God is the strength behind how David is saved from his enemies.

high towermisgab – high place, refuge, secure height, retreat

refugemanowc – flight, refuge, place of escape – the place you run to and hide.

saviouryasha‘– to save, be saved, be delivered.

We tend to think of salvation in terms of eternal things such as being saved from hell. It is my impression that David seemed to think in more immediate terms such as being rescued from an enemy.


Enrich your praise

David is quite good at expressing praise to God.
His praise doesn’t just consist of a few words, like, “God You are good, yeah, yeah, yeah”.
I’m grateful that our worship songs are a little broader than that.
I think it’s a good thing to enlarge our vocabulary of praise.

:5-7 David’s need for God

:5 When the waves of death compassed me

compassed – encircled

:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

David thought he was going to die.

prevented – better, “confronted

:7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God:


Help comes through prayer

Prayer should not be a “last resort”. It should be our first resort. It should be the basis for our confidence. It should be the basis for our actions.
The Best Position To Pray Is..
Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer. A telephone repairman who was working nearby happened to overhear the conversation. “Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed the first minister. “No,” the second pastor contended. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched toward Heaven.” “You’re both wrong,” the third preacher insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying prostate, face down on the floor.” The repairman could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “the best prayin’ I ever did was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole after my safety strap broke.”
When Jeremiah was in prison, God told him to pray.
(Jer 33:1-3 KJV) Moreover the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying, {2} Thus saith the LORD the maker thereof, the LORD that formed it, to establish it; the LORD is his name; {3} Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

:7 and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.


God listens to our prayers

Our voice enters into His heavenly temple.
Have you ever had someone record you talking when you didn’t know you were being recorded? Sometimes it can be a little embarrassing to hear the things that come out of our mouths, especially when we don’t think that certain people might not be listening.
Can you picture God in heaven, listening to His message machine, and paying attention to every little thing that you say in prayer?
If you are not really serious about your prayers, this can make you a little uneasy. If you are serious about your prayers, this is quite comforting.

:8-20 God’s response to David’s prayer

:11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly

cherub – the angels that surround God’s throne are called “cherubim” (plural of “cherub”). The angels that were molded onto the mercy seat were called “cherubim”.

:12 And he made darkness pavilions round about him

(2 Sam 22:12 NIV) He made darkness his canopy around him-- the dark rain clouds of the sky.

:15 And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.

Hebrew poetry doesn’t having the rhyming of sounds like English poetry. Instead, it has parallel or contrasting ideas. Things tend to be either two parallel ideas that explain each other, or two contrasting ideas that show opposites.

Here we see the “arrows” being parallel with “lightning”. David saw lightning as God’s arrows.

:16 And the channels of the sea appeared …

 (2 Sam 22:16 NLT) Then at the command of the LORD, at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.

:17 He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;

Sometimes our troubles seem like a flood that is carrying us away.

:18 He delivered me from my strong enemy

It seems that at one of the times when Saul was pursuing David, God answered David’s prayers by sending a mighty thunder and lightning storm. David used this storm to escape.

:18 for they were too strong for me.


Too much

There is a sense in which God promises to never allow us to go through things that we can’t handle.
(1 Cor 10:13 KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

God promises to never let you get into something that you can’t handle.

Yet there is also a sense in which, by ourselves, the problems we face ARE too much for us.

One lovely morning, Ben and Thomas were out golfing. Ben slices his ball deep into a wooded ravine. He grabs his 8-iron and proceeds down the embankment into the ravine in search of his ball. Ben searches diligently through the thick underbrush and suddenly he spots something shiny. As he gets closer, he realizes that the shiny object is in fact an 8-iron in the hands of a skeleton lying near an old golf ball. Ben excitedly calls out to his golfing partner: “Hey Thomas, come here, I got big trouble down here.” Thomas comes running over to the edge of the ravine and calls out: “What’s the matter Ben?” Ben shouts back in a nervous voice: “Throw me my 7-iron! Looks like you can’t get out of here with an 8-iron.”

The only way we can handle REAL problems is with His help.
(John 15:5 KJV) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(Phil 4:13 KJV) I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

:19 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.

prevented – better, “confronted

(2 Sam 22:19 NLT) They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the LORD upheld me.

:20 He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

Instead of being caught between a rock and a hard place, God brought David out into a wide-open place.


God delights in you too.

God loved David.
God loves you as well.
(Rom 8:31-39 KJV) What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? {33} Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. {34} Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. {35} Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? {36} As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. {37} Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. {38} For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

:21-25 Why God delivered David

:25 Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness

Keep in mind – it seems that David wrote this before his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah the Hittite.


It pays to be good

I know we are saved by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). I know that we could never be saved by our own good works because all our best works are but filthy rags to God (Isa. 64:6).
Though it may sound like boasting on David’s part, there is something of value here.
There is benefit in living your life correctly.
God promised Israel that if they walked in His ways:

(Deu 28:7 KJV) The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.

For example:
If you never engage in premarital or extramarital sex, your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease are extremely rare.
If you don’t hang with the gang in the ‘hood, your chances of being killed by gang violence are a much lower than if you hang with the bros.

:26-28 How God deals with men

:27 with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavoury.

froward – perverse

(2 Sam 22:27 NLT) to the wicked you show yourself hostile.

:29-51 What is possible with God’s help

:30 For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall.


Great things

Before facing an entire Philistine troop by himself, David’s pal Jonathan had said,
(1 Sam 14:6 KJV) Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
William Carey (1761–1834), the first modern missionary, said,
“Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.”
Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, said, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, and thus they attempt very little, and they always fail. All giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.”

:31 As for God, his way is perfect

 (NAS) "As for God, His way is blameless;

God doesn’t make mistakes.

:34 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places.

(2 Sam 22:34 NLT) He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.

Hind’s feet on high places.

:35 He teacheth my hands to war;

David was a warrior. Sometimes we too need to fight.

:35 so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

Better translation,

(NLT) he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.

A bronze bow has a “pull” of about ninety pounds. You have to be pretty strong to handle one of those.

:36 and thy gentleness hath made me great.

gentleness‘anah – to afflict, oppress, humble, be afflicted, be bowed down

(NIV) you stoop down to make me great

:37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me

(2 Sam 22:37 NIV) You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

:39 And I have consumed them …

 (2 Sam 22:39 ICB) I destroyed and crushed them, so they couldn't rise up again. They fell beneath my feet.

I think we need to approach our battle with sin in the same way. Don’t quit until it’s gone.

:44 Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people,

(2 Sam 22:44 NIV) "You have delivered me from the attacks of my people;”

Sometimes the troubles we have aren’t from outside enemies, but people that are close to us.

:44 thou hast kept me to be head of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.

God helped David to conquer the Edomites, the Philistines, the Moabites, and the Ammonites.

This is also prophetic. This speaks of Jesus’ reign over the Gentiles.

:46 Strangers shall fade away, and they shall be afraid out of their close places.

(2 Sam 22:46 NIV) They all lose heart; they come trembling from their strongholds.

2Samuel 23

:1-7 David’s final words

:1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,

It’s not unusual for a man’s final words to be fairly important.

This is what is really important to David. After living some seventy years, this is his last chance to get a message across of what is important.

Note: His message isn’t, “He who dies with the most toys wins”.

:2 The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

David knew that God had at times spoken through him. The record of His writings are a part of God’s Word.

(2 Pet 1:21 KJV) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: {17} That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

:2-3 The spirit of the LORD spake … The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake …

There is a glimpse of the Trinity here.

The Holy Spirit. The Father (God of Israel). The Son (the Rock).

:4 And he shall be as the light of the morning

(2 Sam 23:3-4 NIV) The God of Israel spoke, the Rock of Israel said to me: 'When one rules over men in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, {4} he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.'

I wonder if this isn’t intended as instruction to Solomon and future kings.


People blossom under a good ruler

Yesterday I was out on a walk and came across a house where apparently the owners haven’t been watering their grass. The grass was all brown, dried out, kind of crackly if you’d walk on it. A little further down the street, another neighbor was out watering his yard, and everything was just dripping wet, and very, very green.
A person who rules in the fear of God will cause the people he rules to blossom, like a field of grass after a spring rain.

:5 Although my house be not so with God …

Some of the translations give almost the opposite idea:

(2 Sam 23:5 NASB) "Truly is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, Ordered in all things, and secured; For all my salvation and all my desire, Will He not indeed make it grow?

:7 … they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

(2 Sam 23:6-7 NLT) But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away, for they tear the hand that touches them. {7} One must be armed to chop them down; they will be utterly consumed with fire."


Good king / Bad king

You have a choice as to how you will rule your life.
You can be a person who refreshes others by doing what’s right.
You can be a pain in the neck.
Choose to be a good king.
One of the keys to ruling correctly is to be “ruling in the fear of God” (vs.3)

:8-39 Real Heroes

It seemed that David had a sort of “all-star” group of men. We call them David’s Mighty Men.

There seems to be different levels within these mighty men.

The top group is called “The Three”

These were the guys who helped make David king.

(1 Chr 11:10 KJV) These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel.


We all need friends

David wasn’t a loner. He was a leader.
He had help.

:8-12 The Big Three

:8 The Tachmonite … Adino the Eznite …against eight hundred

Tachmonite[email protected] – “thou will make me wise”. This is a title that was given to Adino.

Adino‘adiynow – “his ornament”

Eznite‘etsen – sharp, strong, spear. He was the “Spear-man” known for his use of the spear.

eight hundred – this had to be something like a world record at that time.

:9 Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite

Eleazar‘El‘azar – “God has helped”

DodoDowdow – “his beloved”. This is apparently kind of a nickname for the name “David”.

Ahohite‘Achowchiy – “brother of rest”; one of the clan of Ahoah

:10 smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword

Apparently this was not an unusual occurrence in ancient days when people fought with swords. A warrior’s hand could lock onto the sword and you would have to run warm water over the hand to get it to release the sword.


A hero keeps going

Eleazar say God give a great victory because he didn’t quit. He held on to his sword. His hand was glued to his sword.
He kept fighting.

:11 Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite … lentiles …

ShammahShammah – “astonishment”

Agee‘Age’ – “I shall increase”

HarariteHarariy – “mountain dweller”

lentiles – Lentils are like peas, a bean that is harvested from a pod.

:12 But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it

I was thinking of making the lesson be: “A hero fights for his vegetables”. After all, today is Mother’s Day.


A hero stays when others leave

There is a time to flee. But sometimes others are fleeing when they should be staying.
Shammah was a mighty man because he stayed and fought.

:13-17 David’s wish

:13 unto the cave of Adullam

This was one of the places where David fled initially as he was chased by Saul.

(1 Sam 22:1-2 KJV) David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him. {2} And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

This gives us a little insight into these guys. These are the guys that have been with David from the beginning. And they kind of started out as a bunch of “losers”. But they hung with a giant killer. And they learned to kill giants. They became the “Mighty Men” of David.
(Prov 27:17 KJV) Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.


Good friends motivate each other

Good friends don’t drag each other down. They encourage each other to get up and serve the Lord.
(1 Cor 15:29-34 NLT) If the dead will not be raised, then what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again? {30} And why should we ourselves be continually risking our lives, facing death hour by hour? {31} For I swear, dear friends, I face death daily. This is as certain as my pride in what the Lord Jesus Christ has done in you. {32} And what value was there in fighting wild beasts--those men of Ephesus--if there will be no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection, "Let's feast and get drunk, for tomorrow we die!" {33} Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character." {34} Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't even know God.

:13 the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.

This might be an early reference to the game of baseball (the Philistines “pitched”). Ooooh. The Philistines set up their camp in the valley of Rephaim.

Rephaimrapha’ – giants, Rephaim

:14 And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.

David is in Adullam, about 12 miles from Bethlehem.

:15 Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem

David has one of those moments where he just makes one of those wishful statements.

:16 And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines …


A hero will do anything to please his king

Jesus is our king.
What can you do for Him?

:17 therefore he would not drink it.


A good leader doesn’t do things for himself

David was not the kind of leader that laid there and had servants drop grapes into his mouth.
He could never imagine himself drinking water that had come with such a high price.
(Phil 2:3-4 NASB) Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; {4} do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

:18-19 Abishai

:18 And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah …

Abishai‘Abiyshay – “my father is Jesse” or “my father is a gift”.

Zeruiah – this is David’s sister. Abishai is David’s nephew.

:19 Was he not most honourable of three

Some think this is a copyist error and should read “thirty”, meaning that Abishai was the captain of the thirty.

:20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada

Benaiah[email protected] – “Yahweh has built up”. Benaiah would eventually take over Joab’s job as head of the entire army when Solomon becomes king.

:20 slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:


A hero is always ready

A hero doesn’t say, “It’s too cold outside” or, “I might slip and fall”.
(Prov 22:13 KJV) The slothful man saith, There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.
We are to be ready to serve the Lord. At all times.
Paul wrote to Timothy:
(2 Tim 4:2 NLT) Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

:23 David set him over his guard.

These were the Cherethite and Pelethites.

(2 Sam 8:18 KJV) And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David's sons were chief rulers.

:24-39 The Thirty

:24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty;

Asahel‘Asah’el – “God-made”. This was man who was know for his speed in running and who was killed by Abner in the early days after Saul had been killed. Joab ended up killing Abner in revenge for having killed his brother (2Sam. 2-3).

the thirty – it appears that this was a list of men that changed over the years. As men died, others took their place. This is why the list contains more than thirty.

If you only count the names from vss. 24-39, there are 32 names. If you add Abishai and Benaiah, there are 34 names.

In 1Chronicles 11, we have another list of David’s mighty men, and there are an additional 16 guys listed.

:24 Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,

Elhanan‘Elchanan – “God has been gracious”

I wonder if it was a little embarrassing growing up with a dad named “Dodo”. Sometimes names can be embarrassing


Saul Dumbrowski
Walking through San Francisco’s Chinatown, a tourist is fascinated with all the Chinese restaurants, shops, signs and banners. He turns a corner and sees a building with the sign, “Saul Dumbrowski’s Chinese Laundry.” “Saul Dumbrowski?” he muses. “How does that fit in here?” So he walks into the shop and sees an old Chinese gentleman behind the counter. The tourist asks, “How did this place get a name like “Saul Dumbrowski’s Chinese Laundry?” The old man answers, “Is name of owner.” The tourist asks, “Well, who and where is the owner?” “Me, is right here,” replies the old man. “You? How did you ever get a name like Saul Dumbrowski?” “Is simple,” says the old man. “Many, many year ago when come to this country, was stand in line at Documentation Center. Man in front is Jewish gentleman from Poland. Lady look at him and go, ‘What your name?’ He say, ‘Saul Dumbrowski.’ Then she look at me and go, ‘What your name?’ I say, ‘Sem Ting.’”

Actually, “Dodo” appears to be a shortened form of the Hebrew name “David”. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad after all …

:25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,

ShammahShammah – “astonishment”

Elika‘Eliyqa’ – “my God rejects”

:26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,

HelezChelets – “he has saved”

Ira‘Iyra’ – “watchful of a city”

:27 Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,

Abiezer‘Abiy‘ezer – “my father is help”

Mebunnai[email protected] – “building of Jehovah”

:28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,

ZalmonTsalmown – “shady”

MaharaiMaharay – “impetuous”

:29 Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,

HelebCheleb – “milk”

Ittai‘Ittay – “with me"”

:30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,

Benaiah[email protected] – “Yahweh has built up”

HiddaiHidday – “for the rejoicing of Jehovah”

:31 Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,

Abialbon‘Abiy-‘ albown – “El (God) is my father”

Azmaveth‘Azmaveth – “strong unto death”

:32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,

Eliahba‘Elyachba’ – “God hides”

Jonathan[email protected] – “Jehovah has given”

:33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,

ShammahShammah – “astonishment”

Ahiam‘Achiyam – “mother’s brother”

:34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

Eliphelet‘Eliyphelet – “God is deliverance”

Eliam‘Eliy‘am – “God is kinsman”

Here’s how we get the connection between Bathsheba and Ahithophel.

Bathsheba is the daughter of Eliam (2Sam. 11:3)
Eliam is the son of Ahithophel.
Therefore, Bathsheba is Ahithophel’s granddaughter.

:35 Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,

HezraiChetsrow – “enclosed”

PaaraiPa‘aray – “gaping”

:36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,

IgalYig’al “He redeems”

BaniBaniy – “built”

:37 Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,

ZelekTseleq – “fissure”. David didn’t have all Israelites in this group. Here’s an Ammonite man.

Nahari Nacharay – “snorter”. Do you think that when this guy laughed, he “snorted”? Or was he a guy who snored at night and kept everyone up?

Joab Yow’ab – “Jehovah is father”. At first glance, it doesn’t look as if Joab is being listed as one of the thirty until you count all the names. In order to get to the full number of 37 (vs. 39), you have to include Joab.

:38 Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,

Ira‘Iyra’ – “watchful of a city”

GarebGareb – “scabby”

:39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.

Uriah‘Uwriyah – “Yahweh is my light”

Here’s what makes David’s sin with Bathsheba even more horrible. She was the wife of one of his inner group of guys. She was the wife of one of his friends.

2Samuel 24

:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them

The parallel passage tells us:

(1 Chr 21:1 KJV) And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

We aren’t told the reason why God was angry with Israel. But because of His anger, God allowed Satan to move David towards numbering the people.

Some have suggested that this took place after Absalom’s rebellion and Sheba’s rebellion and that God was angry with Israel for rebelling against David.

:2 from Dan even to Beersheba

From the farthest northern town to the farthest southern town.

:2 number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.


The purpose for taking a “census” was not to know your population’s “demographics”. The purpose was to raise an army. The people that were counted were the men who were able to fight.

We see this in the book of Numbers. Twice there was a census taken, one at the beginning of the forty years in the wilderness, and one at the end. Who was counted? Men who could fight. (Num.1:1-3; Num. 26:1-2)

God had a law regarding the taking of a census.

(Exo 30:12 KJV) When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
Money was to be collected for each person counted. This was to keep Israel from a “plague”. The amount of the ransom was to be ½ a shekel per person. The money was to go towards the upkeep of the Tabernacle (Ex. 30:11-16).
This eventually grew into the custom of the “temple-tax” that was used to pay for temple expenses.

The Jewish historian Josephus records (Antiquities, 7:12:1),

Now king David was desirous to know how many ten thousands there were of the people, but forgot the commands of Moses, who told them beforehand, that if the multitude were numbered, they should pay half a shekel to God for every head.
His suggestion is that David’s sin was that he didn’t have the people pay the “ransom”.

:3 Now the LORD thy God add unto the people …



I think there are two intertwined problems going on here.

David wants to have an awesome army.

David is disobeying God’s commands concerning a census. God’s command was to teach the people to honor God at the time that they raise an army.



Joab has a correct view about this.

I wonder if David himself hasn’t taught Joab a little something about not relying on people, but relying on the Lord.

David wrote,
(Psa 20:7 KJV) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


:4 Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab

David wins the argument and Joab and his captains start the process of numbering the people.

:5 pitched in Aroer…toward Jazer

Aroer – a city on the eastern side of the Jordan. see map

Jazer – a city on the eastern side of the Jordan. see map

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

Gilead – the eastern side of the Jordan. see map

Tahtimhodshi – to the north of Galilee. see map

Danjaansee map

Zidon – the city of Sidon, north of Israel (off of the map)

:7 Tyre …even to Beersheba

Tyre – sister city to Sidon, see map

Hivitessee map

Canaanitessee map

Beersheba – the southernmost city of Israel. see map

Basically, Joab and his men make a huge circle around the entire nation of Israel.

:8 they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

It takes them nearly ten months to complete the conscription.

:9 there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

The intent of the census was to create an army.

There is a difference between the numbers given here and those in the parallel passage.

(1 Chr 21:5 KJV) And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

We are told in 1Chr. 27 that David had a standing army of 24,000 men from each of the twelve tribes, rotating each month. This is a total of 288,000 men. If you add that number to the additional 800,000 counted during the census, you could come up with a number that could be rounded off to 1,100,000 men. The tribe of Judah is mentioned in Chronicles as 470,000, which could have been rounded here in Samuel to 500,000.

:10 And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people.

As David is listening to the numbers being given, he begins to realize the sin of his motives.


Sensitive to God

It’s taken David ten months, but he finally gets the message.

:11 the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer

Gad is a prophet (1Sam. 22:5). These aren’t Gad’s ideas, they are God’s ideas.

:12 I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

David’s sin has to be taken care of. Somebody has got to pay.

This is still the Old Testament, and Jesus has not yet died to take away our sins.

:13 seven years of famine

The parallel passage says “three years” (1Chr. 21:12).

:14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait:

(NLT) "This is a desperate situation!"

:14 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.


God’s mercy is best


:15 So the LORD sent a pestilence …from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

For three days, a plague hits the entire nation of Israel, the entire group that David has numbered. We aren’t told kind of plague hit the nation.


Sin has consequences

We may not be given a choice of what happens to us, but still, there is consequence to sin.
We may confess our sin, and God may forgive us, but sometimes the consequences still remain.
The consequences don’t mean that God hasn’t forgiven.
Example: Pounding nails into a board; God can remove the nails, but the holes will still be there.
If a man goes and commits the sin of homosexuality, he may confess his sin, repent, and God will forgive him. But he may still contract AIDS.
Sometimes Satan says, “Just give in and all this temptation pressure will be over with”...
...but sin is a bad deal no matter how you look at it. It is much better to just not give in.

:16 the LORD repented him of the evil

(NIV) the LORD was grieved because of the calamity

:16 and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand.

God asks the angel to take a break. God is going to give David a chance to do something here.

:16 And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.

threshingplace – this would be a place on top of a hill, where the wind would blow frequently. After grain was harvested from the fields, it would be taken to a threshing floor. Oxen would then pull wooden sleds through the grain, crushing and breaking the chaff off the kernel. Then as the grain was tossed in the air, the wind would blow the chaff away, leaving just the kernel.

Araunah‘Aravnah – “I shall shout for joy” or “joyful shouting of Jah”. In 1Chr. 21:18, he is called “Ornan”.

the angel of the LORD – This is a phrase used in the Bible to identify a unique, specific person. He has made many appearances to many different people.

Hagar met Him (Gen.16:7,13); Abraham met Him (Gen.22:11-12); Gideon met Him (Judg.6:12-14, 22-23); and Samson’s dad, Manoah met Him (Judg.13:21-22).

When you piece things together, you find that this person is also called “God”.

We believe that this person is none other than Jesus Christ, appearing on earth before His birth in Bethlehem.

:17 Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done?


Accept responsibility

David has the marks of a great leader. He is willing to accept responsibility for his actions.

:20 And Araunah looked

The parallel passage says

(1 Chr 21:20 KJV) And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

We have a short description of what David saw:

(1 Chr 21:16 KJV) And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.

:23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king.

(2 Sam 24:23 NKJV) "All these, O king, Araunah has given to the king." And Araunah said to the king, "May the LORD your God accept you."

:24 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.



Sacrifice is costly

If it doesn’t cost you anything, it isn’t a “sacrifice”.

:24 So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

threshingfloorgoren – threshing-floor

fifty shekels – 1 ¼ pounds of silver

In the parallel passage (1Chr. 21:25), we have recorded that David paid six hundred shekels of gold. But before you get worried about the discrepancy, look at the passage.

(1 Chr 21:25 KJV) So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
placemaqowm – standing place, place; city, land, region

The fifty shekels were for the immediate area of the threshing floor and the oxen, while the rest was for the surrounding area upon which the temple was built.

:25 So the LORD was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.

The parallel passage tells us just how God was “entreated” –

(1 Chr 21:26 KJV) And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.

There are only three other occurrences where God sends fire to consume an offering:

1. Moses and the Tabernacle (Lev. 9:24)
2. Solomon and the Temple (2Chr. 7:1)
3. Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1Ki. 18:36-39)

Something special has happened. Something bigger than just this story has happened. Something HUGE has happened.


Turning bad into good

Araunah’s threshing floor was a special place.
In the parallel account in Chronicles, immediately after this story, we read:
(1 Chr 22:1 KJV) Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel.
David somehow considered this location to be “the house of the LORD God”.
2Chronicles tells us more about this location.
(2 Chr 3:1 KJV) Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The threshing floor was in the same place where Abraham had offered Isaac (Gen. 22:2), on Mount Moriah.

This would also be the same place where Solomon would build the temple.

God was able to take David’s sin of pride and turn the entire situation around so that this place became not just “a place” of worship, but “THE place” of worship.
If the idea of David’s sin being that he didn’t collect the “ransom”, it’s interesting that in the end, the very thing the “ransom” would have gone for was taken care of. The “ransom” would go toward the upkeep of the Tabernacle, and David has now purchased the site for the temple.
Strange idea:

I came across a reference that gold was considered 12 times the value of silver (Gill; 2Sam. 24:24).

If David paid 600 shekels of gold for the entire property, that would be the equivalent of 7200 shekels of silver (600 x 12).

If the “ransom” was ½ shekel per person, then David only paid enough for 14,400 people (interesting number).

However you look at it, David did pay a price, but he didn’t have to pay the full price. He should have had to pay 1,300,000 x ½ = 650,000 shekels of silver. He only paid close to one hundredth of the price.


Jesus has paid the price

David only paid a fraction of what he should have.
I find it very interesting that Jesus was there with David in Jerusalem, watching David pay the price for his sin.
Jesus would pay the price for our sin at that same place.