2Samuel 24

Sunday Morning Bible Study

May 12, 2002


We believe this story about David takes place at the end of David’s reign, after the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba, and before David turns things over to Solomon. We get this idea from the parallel passage (1Chr. 21), which places it just prior to David turning things over to Solomon.

: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 have an influence on David. Perhaps God is angry with Israel for rebelling against David under Absalom and Sheba.

:2 from Dan even to Beersheba

From the farthest northern town to the farthest southern town.

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

What’s wrong with this picture?

First, you need to know purpose for taking a “census”. It was not to know your nation’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 (Num.1:1-3; Num. 26:1-2). Who was counted?

Nu 26:2 Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers’ house, all that are able to go to war in Israel.

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. The same type of people are counted, every one twenty years old and up. All those who would go to war.
This was to keep Israel from a “plague”. The amount of the ransom was to be ˝ a shekel per person. The money was to go towards the upkeep of the Tabernacle. This eventually grew into the custom of the “temple-tax” that was used to pay for temple expenses. (Ex. 30:12-16)
It’s important to realize that this “ransom” wasn’t to help pay for an army, it was to support the worship of God. It was to help the Tabernacle and work towards putting the people’s focus on God, not on their army.

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.

David didn’t pay the “ransom”.

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

Again, what’s wrong with this picture?


Putting your interests before God’s

Joab is giving us a hint that David is interested in raising a huge army.
He’s just been through a couple of rebellions and it would be nice to know that he’s got a serious army behind him.
We’ve already seen that he is being nudged by Satan (1Chr. 21:1).
Because there will be a plague, I think it’s safe to say that Josephus must have been right in that David did not collect the “ransom” money from the people.
Who’s kingdom are you building?
It seems that for the moment, David has been sidetracked into building his own kingdom and not God’s.
(Mat 6:33 KJV) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

: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

Danjaan  see map

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

:5-7 Aroer … Tyre …even to Beersheba

Tyre – sister city to Sidon,  see map

Hivites  see map

Canaanites  see 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 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

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.
He’s even getting the message before the plague breaks out.
There is a measure of God’s patience in this. God waits ten months for David to get it.
Are there things nagging you that just don’t seem right, but you’ve been ignoring it? Are you getting God’s 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

This is still the Old Testament, and Jesus has not yet died to take away our sins. David’s sin has to be taken care of. Somebody has to pay the price.

: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 for his mercies are great

David would rather trust God’s mercy instead of man’s.

:15 So the LORD sent a pestilence …from Dan even to Beersheba

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.
If you pound nails into a board, you 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.

:16 the LORD repented him of the evil

(NIV) the LORD was grieved because of the calamity

:16 It is enough: stay now thine hand.

God asks the angel to take a break. God is going to give David a chance to respond

:16 And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace

threshingplace – this would be a place on top of a hill, where the wind would blow frequently. This particular threshing floor was above the city of Jerusalem. 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”. When you look closer, you find 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


Accept responsibility

David has the marks of a great leader. He is willing to accept responsibility for his actions. He doesn’t blame someone else.

: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 neither will I offer …that which doth cost me nothing.

David knows he needs to offer a sacrifice to make things right.


Important things are costly

No other group of humans understand the concept of sacrifice better than mothers.  Yet even with moms, things that were once important can begin to lose their luster.
The Evolution of Mom
Preparing for the Birth

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don’t bother practicing because you remember that last time, breathing didn’t do a thing.

3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your 8th month.

The Layette

1st baby:  You prewash your newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

The Baby's Name

1st baby:  You pore over baby-name books and practice pronouncing and writing combinations of all your favorites.

2nd baby: Someone has to name their kid after your great-aunt Mavis, right? It might as well be you.

3rd baby: You open a name book, close your eyes, and see where your finger falls. Bimaldo? Perfect!

Don’t cheapen the things that are important.
Really Cheap
After being away on business, a man thought it would be nice to bring his wife a little gift for Mother’s Day. “How about some perfume?” he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50.00. “That’s a bit much,” he said, so she returned with a smaller bottle for $30.00. “That’s still quite a bit,” he complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle. “What I mean,” he said, “is I’d like to see something really cheap.” So the clerk handed him a mirror.
It’s really not about money as much as it is sacrifice.  Sometimes we’re too quick to spend money when we need to spend time.  How important is your marriage?  Your family?  Your relationship with Jesus?

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

This is the price David paid for just the threshingfloor and oxen.  The parallel passage tells us that David actually bought Araunah’s entire property for 600 shekels of gold.

threshingfloorgoren – threshing-floor

fifty shekels – 1 Ľ 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 the LORD was entreated …the plague was stayed

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:

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

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


God can turn bad things 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” for the upkeep of God’s house, it’s interesting that in the end, David ends up paying a price to purchase the very spot of God’s house.



Jesus has paid the price

If you do some calculations, you find that David only paid roughly a hundredth of what he should have to ransom his entire army of 1,300,000.
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 ˝ 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 ˝ = 650,000 shekels of silver.  He only paid close to one hundredth of the price.
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.
He paid it all.