2 Samuel 24:2
So the king said to Joab the commander of his army, who was with him, "Go now throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and register the troops, so that I may know their number."
Self-ElationB. Dale 2 Samuel 24:2
A Sinful CensusB. Dale 2 Samuel 24:1, 2
David Numbering the PeopleH. Melvill, B. D.2 Samuel 24:1-25
David Numbering the PeopleF. M. Sadler, M. A.2 Samuel 24:1-25
David's Numbering of the PeopleHomiletic Magazine2 Samuel 24:1-25
In What Respect the Census was SinfulA. F. Kirkpatrick, M. A.2 Samuel 24:1-25
Numbering the PeopleC. S. Robinson, D. D.2 Samuel 24:1-25
The Church's Resources2 Samuel 24:1-25

This narrative is highly creditable to both David and these three brave men. It shows the power he had of awakening in his soldiers passionate attachment and devotedness to himself, his high appreciation of such qualities, and, at the same time his unwillingness that they should be displayed in enterprises which hazarded precious lives for no corresponding advantage. In the pouring of the water out as an offering unto the Lord, because it was too costly and sacred for ordinary use, "pure chivalry and pure religion found an absolute union" (Dean Stanley). On the other hand, the heroism of these men, stirred by their love and loyalty to their chief, although displayed in a rash enterprise, is worthy of great admiration. We are reminded of similar qualities found amongst the servants of the Son of David, our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice -


1. They show sincere and practical regard to his every wish. They do not need explicit commands in detail, still less accompanying threatenings. Enough if they can ascertain what he desires; and their love for him and converse with him enable them to know his wishes without definite verbal revelations or laws. A large portion of the life of many modern Christians, especially in the departments of Christian zeal and benevolence, is founded on no express command, but springs from love and sympathy - from that participation of the Spirit of Christ which produces intuitive discernment of his will, and that devoted attachment which prompts to the gratification of his every wish.

2. They are ready to encounter danger in his service. The work of Christ makes at times great demands on love, zeal, and courage. It cannot be done without hazard; but his true-hearted friends are prepared to endure the toil and brave the peril. Not a few in our own day may be described as "men that have hazarded their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:26). This spirit of Christian heroism is not confined to the more hardy races, but among' the softer tribes of Polynesia and India, the knowledge, of Christ has produced a similar courage. Converted natives offer themselves for service in the most dangerous fields of missionary enterprise; and when some fall at the hand of savages, or through attacks of deadly diseases, others eagerly press forward to take the vacant places. The language of St. Paul is still the language of faithful Christians, "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself," etc.; "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die... for the Name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 20:24; Acts 21:13).

3. They are sometimes moved to extraordinary manifestations of their regard. Like the three heroes whose exploit is here recorded. Like Mary in her lavish anointing of her Lord (John 12:3). Warm love prompts to generous deeds and gifts. There is need of these in the service of Christ; and if ardent love to him were more common, they would be more frequent. Love should, however, submit to the guidance of wisdom, lest it become wasteful or injurious. Our Lord will accept mistaken offerings, but it is well that the offerings should themselves be such as he can approve. One safeguard against mistake is the remembrance that he desires no display of love which is fantastic or useless, no self-denial or daring which answers no proportionate end in the advancement of his kingdom and the promotion of the good either of our own souls or of our fellow men. There is abundant room for all possible generosity, self-denial, and bravery in the practical service of Christ and man; to expend these in fruitless ways is to expose our works to condemnation, however good and acceptable may be our motives. We are to serve God with our reason as well as our feelings.


1. His self-sacrificing love for them. "The love of Christ constraineth us" (2 Corinthians 5:14) is their sufficient answer to any who allege that they are "beside themselves" (2 Corinthians 5:13). His love requires and justifies the utmost consecration to him of heart and life.

2. His injunctions. He claims from all who follow him that they should love him more than their nearest relations more than their own life (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), and that, in serving him, they should be fearless of death (Luke 12:4).

3. His example. Of love to the Father, and complete devotedness to his will and glory (John 14:31; John 4:34; Matthew 26:39, 42; John 12:27, 28).

4. The effects of such love. In purifying and ennobling the character of those who cherish it, and promoting through them the well being of mankind. It is love for all excellence, stimulates to its pursuit and greatly aids its attainment. It is the inspiration and support of the highest and most persistent benevolence; for he who is loved is the Incarnation of Divine holiness and love, and the great Friend and Benefactor of the human race, and the return he asks for his love to us is not a barren, sentimental devotion, but practical obedience (John 14:15, 21, 23), and especially a fruitful love to our brethren (John 15:12-14; 1 John 3:16-18), whom he teaches us to regard as being himself (Matthew 25:35-45). Love to Jesus Christ has been, and still is, the strongest motive-power in the world in favour of all godliness and goodness.

5. Its rewards. Love to Christ is not mercenary, and makes no stipulation for recompense. It is its own reward. Yet in the midst of a cold and unbelieving world it needs all supports. These are to be found in the assurance of the approval and affection of Christ himself, and of the Father (John 14:21, 23; John 16:27), and the prospect of sharing the glory and joy of Christ forever (John 17:24; 2 Timothy 4:8; Matthew 19:29; James 1:12; James 2:5). On the other hand, to be destitute of love to Christ is to be lost (1 Corinthians 16:22). - G.W.

And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people.
David's sin in numbering the people was want of confidence in God. At any rate, it is certain that for a time he lost his faith, and was in open rebellion against God. Then came his punishment — a grievous punishment for the king who has the welfare of his people at heart. One man sins; his sin is punished; but the punishment fails on the innocent — that is the strange problem which rises before us on reading this chapter, and it is a problem which very often presents itself in the facts of human life. The problem is forced on our notice every day we live. A careless shipwright does not send his bolt or rivet home properly, and, in a storm at sea, a gallant ship founders, carrying with it many precious lives. A man commits a great crime; he is found out and punished, but the punishment does not stop with himself: it falls also on his family, who have to bear the shame and the reverse of fortune. A husband and father becomes a drunkard; the sin brings its inevitable punishment; but the punishment is as heavy on the wife, who is never free from anxious care, and on the children, who grow: up weakly, uneducated, and wilful, for the lack of parental guidance. Two or three men combine in a gigantic fraud; they are detected and punished, and utter ruin falls on them; but the consequences of the fraud, in a thousand ramifications, affect the happiness and prosperity of a whole nation. A sovereign does not feel himself secure on his throne, and, in order to surround himself with military glory and strengthen his position, declares war against a neighbouring people. The punishment of his ambition is disastrous to himself; but still worse are the calamities which come on thousands of his unoffending subjects. Is not the suffering of the innocent with the guilty, and for the guilty, one of the most familiar facts in human life? We would think it fair and right that each one should start in life with the same chance of good and evil, and should have it in his power to carve out his fortunes as seemeth, good to him but it is only too plain that such is not the case. Some are overweighted from the very first; some spend all their lives in reaching the point from which others start; some struggle on for a few years, and die in the bloom of youth, through inherited feebleness of constitution. And even if we did all start with the same chances, it is evident that we do not work through life freely and independently; our aims are defeated, our efforts crushed by events over which we have but little influence. Job, sitting among his comforters and bewailing his unhappy fate; Prometheus, chained to the rock and defying the unjust power that chains him; Philoctetes, left behind in his misery on the desert island — these present, in the highest flights of tragic poetry, what many a one feels bitterly in his own thoughts — the truth that wrong-doing and suffering do not always go together; and to those who believe in a Governor of the universe they present also some apparent justification for the complaint of mankind, which is most briefly expressed in the words of Solon to Croesus, King of Lydia, "The Deity is altogether envious and full of confusion" (Herod 1, 32.) So long as the facts are put in this way, I do not think it possible to explain or palliate them. It is of no use to say that, looking to the whole experience of human history, sin is punished and righteousness prospers. The doctrine of averages, however true and consoling to the plilosophising observer, does not make the: individual wrong lighter. Nor is it of much use, I fear, to point out that suffering is not always a misfortune, nor prosperity a gain; for the man who has been ruined by others' guilt, the wife who has been bereaved through another's folly, the youth who finds himself cramped and fettered by the circumstances of his birth, does not cry out against the suffering so much as against the seeming injustice and unfairness. But let us look at all these facts from another point of view. Our difficulty hitherto has been, that the innocent have often to suffer for the guilty, that punishment often falls on those who have not deserved it. But what are we to say about the enjoyment of benefits for which we have not laboured, the reaping of reward where there has been no desert on our part? Is there not such a thing as receiving good where we had not earned it? And, when we talk of the innocent suffering with or for the guilty, should we not also speak of the undeserving being blessed with prosperity along with the deserving, or even instead of the, deserving? We cry out passionately against receiving less than justice in the arrangements of the universe; but do we not sometimes receive more than our just share? To go back to the case from which we started: the people were suffering in Israel on account of the sin of their king; but had they not derived great benefit from the same king's good government, or success in war? If they did not deserve to share in his punishment, can we say that they deserved to share in his prosperity? But the same is true of life generally. If we suffer where we have not sinned, do we not also prosper where we have not proved worthy? If, after all our toils and honest exertions, our hopes are defeated through the fault of others, do we not also reap where we have not sowed, and gather where we have not strawed? If the wrong-doing of others sometimes brings an undeserved retribution on our heads, is it not true that every day some happiness is added to our lot, through the right-doing of others? The fraud of two or three men causes a national calamity; but the honest dealing of a thousand others, with their conscientious discharge of duty, makes the nation prosperous, secures to very many the advantages of an easy income with little trouble to themselves, and preserves the country from bankruptcy, moral and commercial; and if the calamity is undeserved, surely we cannot say that we have deserved all the prosperity. Just think how, in a hundred ways, we reap the benefit of other men's labour; how our enormous material prosperity during this century has been chiefly due to James Wart's invention of the steam-engine, so that thousands have now the opportunity of culture and refinement, who otherwise would hays been toiling in the fields all day, with dulled senses and faculties of thought disused. Think how many lives are saved every year in our coal-mines by Sir Humphrey Davy's lamp; think how much physical suffering has been spared us, in the practice of surgery, by the discovery of nitrous oxide and chloroform; think how many pure and pleasant thoughts have come to us through the work of some great poet, or painter, or musician — and say, is it not emphatically true that, if we suffer by the sins of our fellow-men, we benefit also by their virtues? Here, again, it would be easy to furnish examples; it is sufficient to observe the general' principle that the influence of other men on our fortunes is for good as well as for evil. But look further at the problem of hereditary evil — "the sins of the fathers coming on the children" — is there not also such a thing as hereditary good? We have not all inherited feeble constitutions from our ancestors, or the race would come to an end; we are not all placed in circumstances where we cannot lead an honest life, otherwise society would cease to exist. As an actual fact, hereditary evil is the exception; and what we have to consider, in most cases, is the great fact of hereditary good, which is as little deserved by us as the evil. Is it not the case with many of us that the patient industry, the upright conduct, and the virtuous lives of our fathers and forefathers, have surrounded us with advantages from the very moment of our birth — advantages which they perhaps were morally bound to secure for us, but which we have in no sense earned by our own merit? If our fathers and forefathers were only discharging their duty, none the less have they, in such ways, conferred great blessings upon us. Thus far our considerations have involved no principle distinctively religious. We are dealing with facts which are facts to the Atheist or Agnostic quite as much as to the Christian. Up to this point, we have only reached this conclusion — that our weal and woe are indissolubly linked with the actions of our fellow-men, that from this connection there come to us both good and evil, and that we must be content to take the evil with the good. Now, how does the gospel of Christ stand to all this? Does it help us further in solving the problem? It does give a complete solution, but in a very unexpected way. So far from regarding this problem of undeserved suffering as a part of the universe to be explained or defended, Christianity takes it up as the starting-point of its moral teaching. Now, see how all this bears on our problem. The universe is so ordered that we live in the closest relations to one another; we exercise an immense influence over one another's fortunes, both for good and evil. We accept the good without acknowledging it with gratitude; we receive the evil with loud complainings against fate, and passionate upbraidings against Providence; but all the time we think only of ourselves. Christ bids us think of others. While we complain because we suffer from others' wrong-doing, Christ says to us, "Take heed that others do not suffer from your wrong-doing. You live in close relation with your fellow-man; then see to it that, from this relation, nothing but good flows to him; love even your enemies, bless even them, that curse you, do good even to them that hate you; in all things strive to make your fellow-man better, happier, nobler, by loving him with all your heart." In short, while we cry out about our rights, Christ bids us think of our duties; while we think only of the claims we have on others, He calls us to consider also the claims which others have on us. In this there seems to me to lie the true solution of the problem. We must cease to look at it with purblind selfishness of vision; we must not continue to ask the one question, "Why should I suffer, being innocent?" but we must also ask, "Why should I receive benefit when I have neither laboured nor deserved?" and above all, we must ask, "How can I live and act, so that my life and actions shall bring good, and good only, to my fellow-men?" We utter passionate complaints about our own wrongs and woes, about the evil influences which our fellow-men exercise on our fortunes; but we should utter heartfelt acknowledgments of boundless good received from the good offices of those who went before, and those who are living now. We are related to one another, not as Alpine peaks rising from a cold sea of mist — divided, solitary; but as stones which help each other in building up the great fabric of God's world. God has clearly meant it to be so. Not one of us lives to himself or dies to himself; the living or dying, even of the humblest man, has its influence on some other fellow-creature for evil or for good. What a changed world it would be if all such influence — if the influence of every man's living and dying — were an unmixed good to others! Where, then, would be the undeserved suffering which at present seems such a grievous wrong? But Christ's command has, for its practical result, the direction of every man's influence for good; and the whole essence of Christian morality lies in the words of St. John, "Little children, love one another." If we could only adopt, in its entirety, the principle of Christ's commandment, we would be vexed no more by perplexing doubts and anxious fears — we would find, in this solidarity of the human race, our greatest strength and our best educator. Buffering, whether deserved or undeserved, can always be traced to sin; and sin has its root in the selfishness of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. If love were to take the place of selfishness in every human heart, sin would be unknown, its consequent suffering unheard of, and earth be changed from a purgatory into a paradise. In spite of the centuries which are completed since Christ lived and died in the world, Christianity, as a moral force among men, is little more than in its infancy. Whatever power it may have had over individual hearts, in cleansing them from sin and widening them to some comprehension of God's love, the full significance of its teaching has been little felt on society as a whole. But more and more, as men become possessed by this intense feeling of sympathy with their fellows, this single-hearted desire to make all their influence on them tell for good, this death of all selfishness, this regenerator of the moral nature which Christ called forth, and which we denominate love — more and more the evils under which the race of men now groan will disappear.

(D. Hunter, D. D.)

Araunah, Canaanites, Dan, David, Gad, Gadites, Hittites, Hivite, Hivites, Joab, Zidon
Aroer, Beersheba, Dan, Gilead, Jazer, Jerusalem, Jordan River, Kadesh, Negeb, Sidon, Tyre
Army, Beersheba, Beer-sheba, Captain, Captains, Commander, Commanders, Count, Dan, Enroll, Fighting, Forth, Fro, Host, Inspect, Joab, Jo'ab, Numbered, Register, Sum, Throughout, Tribes
1. David, tempted by Satan, forces Joab to number the people
5. The captains, in nine months and twenty days, gather 1,300,000 fighting men
10. David repents, and having three plagues proposed by God, chooses pestilence
15. After the death of 70,000, David by prayer prevents the destruction of Jerusalem
18. David, by God's direction, purchases Araunah's threshing floor;
25. and the plague stops

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 24:1-9

     5249   census

2 Samuel 24:1-16

     7236   Israel, united kingdom

2 Samuel 24:1-17

     5087   David, reign of

The Exile --Continued.
We have one psalm which the title connects with the beginning of David's stay at Adullam,--the thirty-fourth. The supposition that it dates from that period throws great force into many parts of it, and gives a unity to what is else apparently fragmentary and disconnected. Unlike those already considered, which were pure soliloquies, this is full of exhortation and counsel, as would naturally be the case if it were written when friends and followers began to gather to his standard. It reads like
Alexander Maclaren—The Life of David

The Universal Chorus
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that stteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. M en have generally agreed to dignify their presumptuous and arrogant ^* disquisitions on the works and ways of God, with the name of wisdom ; though the principles upon which they proceed, and the conclusions which they draw from
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Letter xix (A. D. 1127) to Suger, Abbot of S. Denis
To Suger, Abbot of S. Denis He praises Suger, who had unexpectedly renounced the pride and luxury of the world to give himself to the modest habits of the religious life. He blames severely the clerk who devotes himself rather to the service of princes than that of God. 1. A piece of good news has reached our district; it cannot fail to do great good to whomsoever it shall have come. For who that fear God, hearing what great things He has done for your soul, do not rejoice and wonder at the great
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

Meditations for one that is Like to Die.
If thy sickness be like to increase unto death, then meditate on three things:--First, How graciously God dealeth with thee. Secondly, From what evils death will free thee. Thirdly, What good death will bring unto thee. The first sort of Meditations are, to consider God's favourable dealing with thee. 1. Meditate that God uses this chastisement of thy body but as a medicine to cure thy soul, by drawing thee, who art sick in sin, to come by repentance unto Christ, thy physician, to have thy soul healed
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Consolations against Impatience in Sickness.
If in thy sickness by extremity of pain thou be driven to impatience, meditate-- 1. That thy sins have deserved the pains of hell; therefore thou mayest with greater patience endure these fatherly corrections. 2. That these are the scourges of thy heavenly Father, and the rod is in his hand. If thou didst suffer with reverence, being a child, the corrections of thy earthly parents, how much rather shouldst thou now subject thyself, being the child of God, to the chastisement of thy heavenly Father,
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

The Order of Thought which Surrounded the Development of Jesus.
As the cooled earth no longer permits us to understand the phenomena of primitive creation, because the fire which penetrated it is extinct, so deliberate explanations have always appeared somewhat insufficient when applying our timid methods of induction to the revolutions of the creative epochs which have decided the fate of humanity. Jesus lived at one of those times when the game of public life is freely played, and when the stake of human activity is increased a hundredfold. Every great part,
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

Of Love to God
I proceed to the second general branch of the text. The persons interested in this privilege. They are lovers of God. "All things work together for good, to them that love God." Despisers and haters of God have no lot or part in this privilege. It is children's bread, it belongs only to them that love God. Because love is the very heart and spirit of religion, I shall the more fully treat upon this; and for the further discussion of it, let us notice these five things concerning love to God. 1. The
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

The Hardening in the Sacred Scripture.
"He hath hardened their heart."-- John xii. 40. The Scripture teaches positively that the hardening and "darkening of their foolish heart" is a divine, intentional act. This is plainly evident from God's charge to Moses concerning the king of Egypt: "Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not harken unto you, and I will lay My hand upon Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the
Abraham Kuyper—The Work of the Holy Spirit

The Prophet Amos.
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS. It will not be necessary to extend our preliminary remarks on the prophet Amos, since on the main point--viz., the circumstances under which he appeared as a prophet--the introduction to the prophecies of Hosea may be regarded as having been written for those of Amos also. For, according to the inscription, they belong to the same period at which Hosea's prophetic ministry began, viz., the latter part of the reign of Jeroboam II., and after Uzziah had ascended the
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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