Saturday, February 23, 2013

CXVIII - II Samuel 24 - David's Census

I want to make note early on that this chapter nearly mirrors Chronicles 21.  Actually, Chronicles is a bit more detailed than the II Samuel rendering of these events.

Verse 1  -  I spent too much time trying to connect this first verse  with the rest of this chapter.  But when I looked at the parallel verse in Chronicles 24:1, I understood it much better.  II Samuel says that the Lord incited David to take a census in all of Israel.  Chronicles says that Satan incited David to do this.  Chronicles' rendering perfectly fits the rest of the chapter, so we're going on with the assumption that an evil influence caused David to take the census.  The Scripture says that God was
angry with David for it.  It doesn't make any sense that God would be angry with anybody that strictly obeyed Him.  Also, this verse says that God was angry "again".  This indicates to me that the first time was in behalf of the Gibeonites when He sent to Israel the drought (II Samuel 21).

So David instructs Joab, the military commander to count all able-bodied men in all Israel and Judah.  The level-headed Joab asks David why he would want to do such a thing.  {Joab was smart and loyal.  Remember it was Joab who took David to task about his grieving for Absalom.  Had Joab not done that, Israel would have come apart at the seams.  So whenever I read about Joab's words, I pay attention.}  So think about this from Joab's mindset.  He knew that the census would bring back very high numbers.  Whenever people lean upon God, they are successful.  Big numbers for the army could make many people depend on the army for their security rather than God.  Also, such a census could perhaps make the population suspect that David was going to set up a draft, which was against the warnings of Samuel when the elders pressed him to make them a king.  And thirdly, rumors would start that Israel was going to march in war again, and at this time there was peace in the region.

Verse 8 - It took almost ten months for Joab and his soldiers to complete the census in all the tribes of Israel.  When he finished he reported to David that there were 1,300,000 able-bodied men available to serve in the nation's military.  {Gee that's a lot.}  Vss 10-->  David knew in his heart that he should not have had that census taken.  He approached God, confessing his sin and repentant.  He knew God was angry with him, so he threw himself on the mercy of God's court.  So God spoke to David
through the prophet Gad.  Notice that God gives David a choice of punishment.  {I find that interesting.}  God gave him three choices:
     1.  Seven years of famine
     2. Three months of war, fleeing from his enemies
     3. Three days of pestilence or plague
David respectfully said he did not want war because he did not want heathens to harm him or any Iraelites.  He left the choice between the remaining two up to God.  So the Lord sent a great and terrible plague on the land.  The Scripture does not specify the affliction, but it does say that 70,000 people were killed by it.  Note verse 16.  The Angel of Death is mentioned.  {We're going to study about angels as we go through the Scripture.  The last time we saw the Angel of Death was in Exodus.  God used the Angel of Death to impose His final plague on Pharoah and all of Egypt.  It was the time that Moses led Israel out of Egypt for the Promised Land.  Also the arrival of the Angel of Deaht marked the beginning of Passover.}  As the Angel of Death is about to strike Jersalem, God stops him.  Enough was enough.  God stopped the Angel of Death just as he had approached the threshing floor owned by a Jebusite named Araunah.  {The Jebusites were a tribe of Canaan who were living in Jersualem when David captured the city and made it the capial of the united Israel.  Araunah was one of those who were allowed to remain in the city and to own property.  A threshingfloor was a hard-surfaced place where shocks of harvested grain were spread in a circle, and oxen pulled heavy wooden sleds over them to break the grains from their husks.  These threshing floors were usually placed at higher elevations where there was frequent wind that would winnow the wheat, separating the grain from the chaff.  Imagine.  What a perfect place for the Angel of Death to cast his plague and have the wind broadcast it throughout the city of Jerusalem.  Scary, isn't it?}

Verse 18-->  God sent the prophet Gad to David for a second time, with specific instructions:  David was to build an altar unto the Lord and He wanted it built on Araunah's threshing floor.  When David approached Araunah about purchasing the threshing floor for an altar, Araunah wanted to give it to David, but David insisted on paying for it just as Abraham had always insited on paying for any land he got.  In the last verse David made burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar he built on
his newly acquired land.  {Burnt offerings expressed the offerer's sacrifices in atonement for their sins.  Also, it signified the offerer's entire self-dedication to God.  Peace offerings , using any animal ritually acceptable for sacrifice, were associated with occasions of thanksgiving.  In response to David's offerings, the Lord "yielded to his prayer for the land; and the plague in Israel stopped.

This concludes our study of the Book of II Samuel.  The next post will introduce the Book of I Kings.

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