AN EXPOSITION OF 2 Samuel 24:17-25
“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 threshing floor 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 threshing floor 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 threshing floor 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.”
It is always tragic to read about the failure of great men. In recent years the news media has managed to do an expose of many of America’s founding fathers, and other historical figures.
With self-righteous glee, modern day political pundits, and news commentators, have signaled their own virtue, by reminding the general public what historians have known for a long time; our forefathers were very human, and very frail.
Some owned slaves. Some were very arrogant, proud, and given to violence. Aaron Burr, was such a man. While sitting as vice president of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, Burr became determined to avenge his offended honor.
The former Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, had cast many aspersions against Burr, in writing, and Burr was out for revenge.
And so, on July 11, 1804, at Weehawken, New Jersey, a duel was fought between the two men.
Alexander Hamilton fired first. The bullet missed, and went into a tree. Burr took careful aim and shot Hamilton, thereby inflicting a mortal wound. Hamilton died the next day.
When worldly men kill one another, it is a terrible blight on society. However, when godly men fail, the sin is compounded, for the saints must violate not only their conscience, but also the Word of God.
The religious person must resist the Holy Spirit, and defy their loving God, by putting the human will against the divine will. The mystery of iniquity is at work, for righteous people do fail.
The Word of God never tries to hide the sins of the saints. We know that Abraham had a problem with lying. Whenever he was in a difficult situation, Abraham lied.
Abraham could entrust his son to the care of the Lord, even to the point of believing that God would raise him from the dead. But when Abimelech met Abraham, he found a man whose faith failed for a moment.
Isaac too knew the weakness of the flesh, as well as Jacob, who was willing to deceive his father, and cheat his brother out of the family inheritance. Jacob lost his integrity over a bowl of soup.
In 2 Samuel 24 we read about the failure of David. Unlike the moral failure of adultery, and murder, the sin of David in 2 Samuel is basically one of the spirit. The particular sin was that of pride. The manifestation of the sin was the numbering of the people of Israel.
Concerning the manifestation of pride, the Bible lists it as one of the most abominable sins. Proverbs 6: 16-17: “These six things doth the Lord hate: yes, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look” (Prov. 6:16).
Proverbs 16:18 warns that “Pride goeth before a fall”.
We read in Isaiah 14: 12-15, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning star! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”
Sin started with the pride of the angel Lucifer, who took an inward look, which led to a downward fall.
Billy Graham pointed out that “The pride that God loathes is not self-respect, or a legitimate sense of personal dignity. It is a haughty, undue self-esteem out of all proportion to our actual worth. It is that repayment egotism which is repulsive to both man and God. It is that revolting conceit which swaggers before men, and struts in the presence of the Almighty. God hates it. It is an abomination unto Him, which means that it makes Him shudder.”
For a moment, David was filled with this type of pride.
God had blessed the nation of Israel with material prosperity, and military might. One day David decided to determine just how powerful the nation of Israel was. He wanted to take a census of the people, not for the purpose of initiating a military draft to protect the nation.
No, David simply wanted to parade his people before himself.
Prior to World War II, as chancellor of Germany, and the leader of the Nazis party, Adolph Hitler did the same thing. In Berlin and other cities, massive night rallies were held.
Soldiers and storm troopers were viewed as far as the eye could see. Hour upon hour military personnel, tanks, trucks, and planes would pass by the reviewing stand during a parade. Hitler told the German people they were a super force. He was a “Superman,” as the philosopher Nietzsche (1844-1900) defined the term. Someone who is above the law.
Germans were told they were a special race. The Aryan (Sanskrit, “noble”, “distinguished”) race was supreme to all others. It was destined to rule the world.
From one century to the next, the sin of pride is the same in the sight of God.
God hated the pride of Arron Burr, and he despised the arrogance of Adolph Hitler who brought Germany to a state of hunger, poverty, and utter devastation.
God will not tolerate arrogance in the blatant heathen, or in His own servants. David was God’s servant.
It has been said that a person is closer to being most like the devil when pride rules the heart.
Joab, as the military Commander in chief tried to persuade David that his desire to number the people was a foolish act. But David would not listen.
Such is the nature of sin, that, when it captures the emotions, the will follows sensual impulses, despite all logic. So we read that the king’s word prevailed. The royal decree went forth. “Number the people.”
Joab, and his military commanders obeyed. They went out and numbered the people. It took a long time. Nine months and twenty days passed, and finally the report was brought back to the king. David had at his disposal one million, and three hundred thousand soldiers.
There is no indication that the report satisfied David’s expectations. The people were many, but perhaps not as many as anticipated. The people had not increased in Canaan as they had in Egypt.
David’s heart smote him after he had numbered the people. He realized that he had indeed been foolish, because he was willing to put his confidence in the arm of the flesh, and not in God.
God allowed David’s sin to come to full fruition.
While at times the Lord does restrain sin, more often than not, He allows sin to have full expression, and then God judges it harshly.
Why this pattern is followed is also a great mystery. It would be nice if the sorrow and shame, which follows a passionate transgression, were felt before an action is taken, but, that does not happen.
If Adam and Eve had experientially and emotionally felt the horror of eating the forbidden fruit before they took their bites, the course of human history might be far different than what it is.
When you pray, ask God for His restraining grace. David did not, and so, pride filled his heart as he numbered the people for his own glory. Now, he would have to pay the price for his transgression. There is always a price to pay. It is always a higher price than anticipated.
Sending a man of righteousness to David, the Lord offered to David three forms of Divine discipline: seven years of famine, three months of war, or three days of pestilence. David must decide.
But David declined to decide. He became humbled once again.
“Lord, you decide,” said David. Perhaps God will show mercy.
The Divine choice was the shorter punishment, but perhaps the most severe.
There was to be a plague in the land.
Once again, the Death Angel unleashed his terrible, bold, swift sword, in righteous fury.
There was a cry in the land of promise, as 70,000 people from Dan to Beer-sheba died a violent, sudden death. Not a home was left untouched.
There was weeping and wailing. The cry to heaven was so great that when the Death Angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord said to the angel, “It is enough.”
As a father will listen to the pleas of a disciplined child, so the Lord relented of the way He was judging Israel. Judgment was arrested.
Grace was free to flow.
There could be restoration to fellowship.
Discipline without reconciliation is not enough.
God would have His people to be at peace with Himself. God explained to David what he must do.
The king must go to a man named Araunah, the Jebusite and purchase his threshing floor for the purpose of offering a sacrifice. Araunah is a noble soul. While a Jebusite captive of Israel, he has nobility of character.
He was willing to give generously to David. However, David would not permit gifts. As David explained, “Neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the “Lord my God of that which cost me nothing.”
Here then is a pattern to follow, and principle to remember, for all God’s people. There is a price to pay for holy sacrifice and service.
In the area of salvation, Jesus alone can pay the price to atone for sin, and He did. Before the world came into existence, God the Father made a covenant with God the Son to give Him many souls, for which He would die for on Calvary’s cross.
The Son was willing to secure the salvation of the elect. It cost Him His precious blood, but Jesus was willing to pay the price.
In the area of sanctification, God’s people must be willing to pay the price. There are certain emotional patterns which must be mortified, or put to death through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Human flesh cannot help in the area of holiness, nor does it want to. The flesh is weak. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can crucify the nature of the old man, and yet there must be the willingness to pursue holiness. without which no one shall see God.
In the area of service, there is also a price to pay. If the Church of Jesus Christ is ever going to see souls reconciled to God, then there will be a price to pay.
There are a number of different applications we could make of this passage, but let me share with you one practical way, in particular.
Several years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case of monumental significance. The Supreme Court agreed to review a Missouri law in the case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services.
Although few experts looked for a complete reversal of the High Court’s January 22, 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortions on demand, many felt that the court might change some of its previous ruling, and refer the issue back to the states for a decision on abortion’s fate. Perhaps, someday, that will happen.
I believe that you and I can have a direct bearing on the final outcome of this issue as we utilize the greatest weapon on the face of the earth, the weapon of sincere, spiritual prayer.
Let us humble ourselves, and pray, and ask God that He will be pleased to place another conservative judge on the Supreme Court that will, among other issues, revisit America’s practice of slaughtering unborn babies.
The babies are being butchered at the rate of one every 20 seconds, 4,000 a day, over a million a year. Since 1973, 44 million unborn babies have been terminated, in America alone.
Let us pay a price. Let us pray and ask the Lord to be merciful, and stop this particular plague.