Summary: This Census not only affected David but it caused great harm to the people as well. Yet we shall see that when one truly repents he once again is restored to the relationship with God. In the end David has bought the site for the temple & has made peace
2 SAMUEL 24: 1- 25 [The Life of David]
TURNING TESTING TO TRIUMPH
The reader might logically expect to come to the end of the book and read of David's peacefully dying in his bed or of some great victory for Israel. Instead there is the story of new trouble for David and the people as a result of David's presumptuous sin against God. As this chapter closes the book, it holds a most important lesson.
Late in David's reign he decides to take a census. A census is a tool for centralizing power. Its purpose was to see the potential for raising an army and for raising taxes. Satan had stirred up David's heart in pride to assess his military strength, rather than simply continuing to maintain trust in God.
This Census of David not only affected him but it caused great harm to the people of Israel as well. Yet we shall see that when one truly repents he once again is restored to the relationship with God (CIT). At the end of the chapter David has bought the site for the temple and has made peace with God in an act of worship.
[In our passage we will find David's ordering a census over the objection of his commander Joab, God sending an epidemic in punishment for David's sin, the sparing of Jerusalem, and the purchase of the temple site.]
I. A DEPENDENCE ON MAN, 1-9.
II. A REPENTANCE FOR SIN, 10-14.
III. A JUDGMENT ON THE PEOPLE, 15-17.
IV. A REDEMPTIVE SACRIFICE, 18-25.
1ST, A DEPENDENCE ON MAN OR NUMBERS, 1-9.
The Lord's permits us to make wrong choices especially went were are too prideful of our accomplishments. In verses 1-3 David in pride and self-glory wanting to assess the human strength of his kingdom. "Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." 2 The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, "Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people." 3 But Joab said to the king, "Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?"
For reasons not stated, the Lord was very angry against Israel. [Our text literally says that God's nose burned. God was "hot" over Israel's sin.] So God allowed Satan (1 Chron 21:1) to tempt David into this sin because Israel needed punishing. Satan was the destructive agent stirring up David's heart in pride to assess the military strength of his kingdom, rather than maintaining trust in God's strength and protection. God here is said to have caused the action in the sense of permitting Satan to put David to the test (Job 1; 2).
[In 1 Chronicles 21:1 this motivation is attributed to Satan. There is no contradiction for the Lord simply allowed Satan to prompt David to an improper course of action in order that Israel might be punished and that David might be instructed. This is similar to the Lord's permitting Satan to trouble Job (Job 1:12; 2:6) and His allowing an evil spirit to torment Saul (1 Sam. 16:14). In any case, the Lord Himself did not incite David to do evil for "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone" (James 1:13). The Lord is in control of all human activity, especially as it pertains to His people.]
The reasons for David's desire for a census are not clearly stated, though the fact that he only had military men counted (2 Sam. 24:2, 9) suggests that he was interested in determining his military strength. And herein lay the sin—he probably did this so he could boast in human might. This may be implied in Joab's query as to why the census was to be undertaken. God was able, Joab said, to multiply their troops as much as necessary, so why did David feel the need to assess his strength?
Joab, who played something of a mixed role as villain on the one hand and advisor on the other, provided sensible counsel this time. Clearly Joab perceived in the heart of David a growing pride of accomplishment. [Yet because of all the death and mayhem perpetrated by Joab, David was no longer listening to his general.]
Verse 4-9 relay the details of the census taking. ["Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to register the people of Israel. 5 They crossed the Jordan and camped in Aroer, on the right side of the city that is in the middle of the valley of Gad and toward Jazer. 6 Then they came to Gilead and to the land of Tahtim-hodshi, and they came to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon, 7 and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and of the Canaanites, and they went out to the south of Judah, to Beersheba. 8 So when they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 "And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men."]