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Monday, July 3, 2017

David Did Not Trust JEHOVAH And HIS People Were Punished



2 Samuel 24:1-25 NIV





David Enrolls the Fighting Men



1Again The Anger of The LORD Burned Against Israel, and HE Incited David against them, saying, 


“Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”



2So the king said to Joab and the army commandersa with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.”


3But Joab replied to the king, “May The LORD your GOD Multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”


4The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.


5After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. 6They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around toward Sidon. 7Then they went toward the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.


8After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.


9Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.


10David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said To The LORD,


“I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of YOUR servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”



11Before David got up the next morning, 

The WORD of The LORD Had Come to Gad the 

prophet, David’s seer:



12“Go and tell David,


‘This Is What The LORD Says: 



I AM Giving you three 


options. Choose one of them for ME To 

Carry Out against you.’ ”


13So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you threeb years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer The ONE WHO Sent me.”


14David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the Hands of The LORD, for HIS Mercy Is Great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”


15So The LORD Sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 



16“Enough! Withdraw your hand.”


 The Angel of The LORD Was then at the threshing 

floor of Araunah the Jebusite.



17When David saw The Angel Who Was Striking Down the people, he said To The LORD, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd,c have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.”




David Builds an Altar



18On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to The LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19So David went up, As The LORD Had Commanded through Gad. 20When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.


21Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?”


“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar To The LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”


22Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23Your Majesty, Araunahd gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May The LORD your GOD Accept you.”


24But the king replied to Araunah,


“No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice To The LORD my GOD burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”


So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekelse of silver for them. 25David built an altar to The Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then The LORD Answered his prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.




David’s Pride Punished



For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and in his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws light upon GOD'S Government of the world, and furnishes a useful lesson.


GOD Could Not Be Angry with David for numbering the people If HE Moved him to do it.  But in the parallel place (1 Chronicles 21:1) it is expressly said, 


satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.






David, in all probability, slackening in his piety and confidence toward GOD, and meditating some extension of his dominions without the Divine Counsel or Command, was naturally curious to know whether the number of fighting men in his empire was sufficient for the work which he had projected. 


In essence, the pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable, trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and though he had written so much of trusting in GOD only.


What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offense, may be a great sin in the Eye of GOD, WHO Discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. GOD seldom Allows those whom HE Loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.







Why was it a sin for King David to number the people of Israel and Judah (and What Is GOD’s Reasoning in killing 70,000 people in reponse to this sin)?

 


                                          David Instructing Joab to Number the People

The first few verses of the twenty-fourth chapter of 2 Samuel seem pretty straight forward: GOD Tells David to go take a census of the people of Israel and Judah and David does just that. Joab voices his dismay about the task David sets forth for him, appearing to know that GOD Will Disapprove, but carries through with it anyway. Joab and the commanders of the army number the people of Israel and Judah, counting 500,000 and 800,000, respectively. Soon after, however, David proclaims that he has sinned by numbering the people and GOD Proceeds To Kill 70,000 people with a plague. Woah… let’s stop and think about this for a moment. GOD Told David to number the people and David followed The LORD'S Orders; so why was it a sin for David to take a census?

Before I go any further, I should note that the story of David’s census is told all over again in Chronicles 21 with a few seemingly minor but potentially major discrepancies, the main difference being that Satan, rather than YAHWEH, is credited in telling David to number Israel. It’s impossible to determine whether this is an accidental inconsistency or possibly a sort of addendum to offer insight into why David’s census was sinful, since obeying a direct order from Satan would obviously be sinful. It is possible that GOD permitted Satan to act in order to achieve HIS Purposes. This is a good explanation, but doesn’t fully hold up quite as well (that is, it kind of just seems like one of the writers of the books was a little uninformed) when noted beside the unexplainable discrepancy of the number of men in Israel and Judah (800,000 men within Israel and 500,000 within Judah in 2 Samuel; 1,100,000 men within Israel and 470,000 in Judah in 1 Chronicles). Thus, other answers for David’s supposed “sin” must be sought.

One explanation is that David’s census was a sin because he did it out of pride. He could well have considered with pride the fact that he had amassed a large number of people in reuniting the Israel and Judah, in conquering the Philistines and the Hittites, et al. Taking a census was a way of not only flattering himself and making a name for himself, but a way to raise an army for himself. However, GOD Had Not Given him any reason to go into battle, so numbering the men may have only been a display of David’s pride and ambition. Tied in with this explanation is the idea that David violates the Deuteronomistic Code, which forbade Kings to build military power for its own sake. The code referred to this as “multiplying horses” which is a euphemism for building a large army:  “Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since The LORD Has Said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold” (Deuteronomy 17:16-17 ESV).

Another explanation is that David sins by not trusting GOD. This explanation arguably ties into the idea of David being too full of pride as well though; hence, David’s pride may have led to a lack of faith in GOD’S Capabilities, causing him to unnecessarily rally men for battle with no say-so from The Lord nor real reasoning to believe that GOD Would Have any reason to send him into a battle. It seems likely to me that David’s pride may have played into his decision to count the men of Israel and Judah, but a distrust of GOD doesn’t necessarily seem to be present since David seems to only be obeying GOD’S commands (whether directly or through GOD’S potential utilization of Satan).

Still, this doesn’t explain why David’s sin ultimately led to deaths of 70,000 people. True, David did leave it to GOD’S Mercy when faced with three different options for punishment from GOD, but it’s not clear Why GOD Would Punish 70,000 other people rather than directly punish David. There are multiple explanations for this, one of them being that the people killed were not actually innocent in the first place


The one I see as most fitting, however, is that this is a moral tale that the innocent frequently suffer as a consequence of others’ sins.



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