2 Samuel 24

Listen to 2 Samuel 24

David's Census

1 Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, 1"Go, number Israel and Judah."
2 So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army,[a] who was with him, "Go through all the tribes of Israel, 2from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people."
3 But Joab said to the king, 3"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 it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?"
4 But the king's word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel.
5 They crossed the Jordan and began from 4Aroer,[b] and from the city that is in the middle of the 5valley, toward Gad and on to 6Jazer.
6 Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites;[c] and they came to Dan, and from Dan[d] they went around to 7Sidon,
7 and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the 8Hivites and 9Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba.
8 So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
9 And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men 10who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

The Lord's Judgment of David's Sin

10 But 11David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, 12"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 13very foolishly."
11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to 14the prophet Gad, David's 15seer, saying,
12 "Go and say to David, 'Thus says the LORD, Three things I offer[e] 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 16three[f] 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, 17for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man."
15 18So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from 19Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men.
16 And when 20the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem 21to destroy it, 22the LORD relented from the calamity and said to the angel 23who was working destruction among the people, "It is enough; now stay your hand." And 24the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of 25Araunah the Jebusite.
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."

David Builds an Altar

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 26Araunah the Jebusite."
19 So David went up at Gad's word, as the LORD commanded.
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 27may 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 28threshing 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 29accept 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[g] of silver.
25 And David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. 30So the LORD responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

2 Samuel 24 Commentary

Chapter 24

David numbers the people. (1-9) He chooses the pestilence. (10-15) The staying the pestilence. (16,17) David's sacrifice, The plague removed. (18-25)

Verses 1-9 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. 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. God judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious. But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.

Verses 10-15 It is well, when a man has sinned, if he has a heart within to smite him for it. If we confess our sins, we may pray in faith that God would forgive them, and take away, by pardoning mercy, that sin which we cast away by sincere repentance. What we make the matter of our pride, it is just in God to take from us, or make bitter to us, and make it our punishment. This must be such a punishment as the people have a large share in, for though it was David's sin that opened the sluice, the sins of the people all contributed to the flood. In this difficulty, David chose a judgment which came immediately from God, whose mercies he knew to be very great, rather than from men, who would have triumphed in the miseries of Israel, and have been thereby hardened in their idolatry. He chose the pestilence; he and his family would be as much exposed to it as the poorest Israelite; and he would continue for a shorter time under the Divine rebuke, however severe it was. The rapid destruction by the pestilence shows how easily God can bring down the proudest sinners, and how much we owe daily to the Divine patience.

Verses 16-17 Perhaps there was more wickedness, especially more pride, and that was the sin now chastised, in Jerusalem than elsewhere, therefore the hand of the destroyer is stretched out upon that city; but the Lord repented him of the evil, changed not his mind, but his way. In the very place where Abraham was stayed from slaying his son, this angel, by a like countermand, was stayed from destroying Jerusalem. It is for the sake of the great Sacrifice, that our forfeited lives are preserved from the destroying angel. And in David is the spirit of a true shepherd of the people, offering himself as a sacrifice to God, for the salvation of his subjects.

Verses 18-25 God's encouraging us to offer to him spiritual sacrifices, is an evidence of his reconciling us to himself. David purchased the ground to build the altar. God hates robbery for burnt-offering. Those know not what religion is, who chiefly care to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. For what have we our substance, but to honour God with it; and how can it be better bestowed? See the building of the altar, and the offering proper sacrifices upon it. Burnt-offerings to the glory of God's justice; peace-offerings to the glory of his mercy. Christ is our Altar, our Sacrifice; in him alone we may expect to escape his wrath, and to find favour with God. Death is destroying all around, in so many forms, and so suddenly, that it is madness not to expect and prepare for the close of life.

Cross References 30

  • 1. [1 Chronicles 27:23, 24]
  • 2. ver. 15; See 2 Samuel 3:10
  • 3. Deuteronomy 1:11
  • 4. Deuteronomy 2:36; Joshua 13:9, 16
  • 5. [Numbers 13:23]
  • 6. Numbers 21:32; Numbers 32:1, 3
  • 7. Joshua 19:28; Judges 18:28
  • 8. Joshua 11:3; Judges 3:3
  • 9. Joshua 11:3; Judges 3:3
  • 10. Judges 8:10
  • 11. 1 Samuel 24:5
  • 12. 2 Samuel 12:13
  • 13. See 1 Samuel 13:13
  • 14. See 1 Samuel 22:5
  • 15. See 1 Samuel 9:9
  • 16. [1 Chronicles 21:12]
  • 17. Psalms 119:156
  • 18. 1 Chronicles 27:24
  • 19. ver. 2
  • 20. 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36; Acts 12:23
  • 21. Exodus 12:13, 23
  • 22. Genesis 6:6; 1 Samuel 15:11; Joel 2:13, 14; Jonah 3:10
  • 23. Exodus 12:13, 23
  • 24. 2 Kings 19:35; 2 Chronicles 32:21; Isaiah 37:36; Acts 12:23
  • 25. [2 Chronicles 3:1]
  • 26. [2 Chronicles 3:1]
  • 27. Numbers 16:48, 50
  • 28. 1 Kings 19:21
  • 29. Deuteronomy 33:11; [Psalms 20:3]
  • 30. 2 Samuel 21:14

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Septuagint to Joab and the commanders of the army
  • [b]. Septuagint; Hebrew encamped in Aroer
  • [c]. Septuagint; Hebrew to the land of Tahtim-hodshi
  • [d]. Septuagint; Hebrew they came to Dan-jaan and
  • [e]. Or hold over
  • [f]. Compare 1 Chronicles 21:12, Septuagint; Hebrew seven
  • [g]. A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams

Chapter Summary


In this chapter an account is given of David's numbering of the people, 2Sa 24:1-9; of the sense he had of his sin, and of his acknowledgment of it; and of the Lord's displeasure at it, who sent the prophet Gad to him, to propose three things to him, one of which he was to choose as a punishment for it, 2Sa 24:10-13; when he chose the pestilence, which carried off a great number of the people, 2Sa 24:14-17; and David was directed to build an altar to the Lord in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite, with whom he agreed for it, and built one on it, and offered upon it, and so the plague was stayed, 2Sa 24:18-25.

2 Samuel 24 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.