Friday, April 11, 2014

2 Samuel 22-24 The numbering of Israel and Judah

From 2 Samuel 22-24


2 Sam 22.1-51; Song; David’s Song of Deliverance
2 Sam 23.1-7; Story; The Last Words of David
2 Sam 23.8-39; Summary; David’s Mighty Men
2 Sam 24.1-9; Story-Sin; David’s Census
2 Sam 24.10-17; Story; The LORD’s Judgment of David’s Sin
2 Sam 24.18-25; Story; David Builds an Altar

Passage and Comments

When David was delivered from his enemies and from Saul he created a song giving thanks to the LORD. The song is recorded at this point. In the son David describes the trouble he was in, his cries to the LORD, his righteousness, blamelessness and the LORD’s refuge and salvation (2 Sam 22.1-51).

David is old and about to die. Giving some of his last words he says the Spirit of the LORD speaks through him. He recalls the everlasting covenant the LORD has made with him and he condemns all bogans (2 Sam 23.1-7).

Davids mighty men are named and their feats recounted. The best of his men were called ‘the three’. Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite (chief), Eleazar the son of Dodo, and Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. After these come Abishai (Joab’s bro), Benaiah, and Asahel (Joab’s bro, killed by Abner). Many other names are quoted. Uriah the Hittite (Bathsheba’s ex-husband) is quoted last. Thirty-seven in all (2 Sam 23.8-39).

The LORD prompts David to take a census so he can then punish David. Joab questions David’s command but goes through with it. In Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000 (2 Sam 24.1-9).

This is where we begin;
10 But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Sam 24:10)
There is good and bad in this. The bad is that he conducted the census in the first place. The good is he has learned to repent when he has to. David has learned to be honest with himself and with the LORD.
11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’ ” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam 24:11–14)
David understands the LORD is forgiving and merciful. That is why he prefers to fall into his hands and not the hands of men. If the LORD wasn’t, he would probably prefer to fall into the hands of men. If you remember how he behaved while his first child to Bathsheba was afflicted, you can see how David understands the LORD’s mercy and forgiveness. In this case as well, the LORD’s punishment must be dealt out.
15 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. (2 Sam 24:15-16)
A huge amount of men died. The LORD doesn’t want to kill more so he stops the devastation. Its almost like we go back in time because the next section describes David’s plea while people were dying in the pestilence.
17 Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” (2 Sam 24:17)
Is that why the LORD stopped the pestilence? Because of David’s intercession and admission to his own responsibility. Once again we should be reminded of the effect the sins of leaders have on the people under them.
18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up at God’s word, as the LORD commanded. (2 Sam 24:18)
The LORD provides a means of atonement. David complies.
20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. 21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. (2 Sam 24:20-25a)
Araunah understands what is happening and cares for the people as well. That is why he offered to give it to David for free. But one aspect of sacrifices it that it must cost the offerer something. If David accepted Araunah’s gift he may compromise the atonement. So he pays for the land and makes his sacrifices.

So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel (2 Sam 24:25b).

Story of Israel

This ends the story of Samuel, but the line of kings continues. Like David here many kings sin and do the wrong thing. We are all capable of evil and should be punished for it. The LORD sends angels, famines, locusts and armies to punish different kinds of sins. Putting out the census like David did is not unique however.

Story of Jesus

Before Jesus was born the foreign king of the time Augustus required all in his domain to be part of his registration. This was a bit like a census in that it counted the number of people.
2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  (Lk 2:1–11)
David’s census ended in disaster. Augustus registration gave way for the birth of the Saviour and Christ.