2 Samuel 24:14
And David said to Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
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(14) Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord. Here the spirit of David in his earlier years reappears; he chooses that form of punishment which seems to him most directly and immediately dependent upon God Himself. He places himself in His hands rather than suffer those other punishments in which the will of man seemed to have a greater share. And it may be noticed also that he chooses that form of punishment from which his own royal position would afford him no immunity.

2 Samuel 24:14. Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord — Let us receive punishment from his immediate stroke, that is, by famine or pestilence, but chiefly by the latter. For though the sword and the famine be also from God’s hand, yet there is also the hand of man, or other creatures, in them. The reason of this choice was partly his confidence in God’s great goodness; partly, because the other judgments, especially the sword, would have been more dishonourable, not only to David, but also to God, and his people; and partly, because he, having sinned himself, thought it just to choose a plague, to which he was as obnoxious as his people; whereas, he had better defences for himself against the sword and famine than they had. And let me not fall, &c. — True, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! Fearful indeed for those who have, by their impenitence, shut themselves out from his mercy. But a penitent dares cast himself into God’s hand, knowing that his mercies are great.24:10-15 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.Compare Ezekiel 14:13-21. The "seven" years of famine correspond with the "seven" years of famine in Genesis 41:27, Genesis 41:30, and with the same number of years in 2 Kings 8:1. But in Chronicles, it is "three years," which agrees better with the "three" months and "three" days. The whole passage is amplified in Chronicles, which has less the aspect of an original text than this. 14. David said, … Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord—His overwhelming sense of his sin led him to acquiesce in the punishment denounced, notwithstanding its apparent excess of severity. He proceeded on a good principle in choosing the pestilence. In pestilence he was equally exposed, as it was just and right he should be, to danger as his people, whereas, in war and famine, he possessed means of protection superior to them. Besides, he thereby showed his trust, founded on long experience, in the divine goodness. Into the hand of the Lord, to wit, his immediate stroke, which is chiefly in the pestilence; for though the sword and famine be also God’s hand, yet there is also the hand of man or other creatures in them. The reason of this choice was partly his experience in and confidence of God’s great goodness; partly, because the other judgments, especially the sword, had been more dishonourable, not only to David, but also to God, and to his people, and to the true religion; and partly, because he having sinned himself, thought it just and reasonable to choose such a plague to which he was as obnoxious as his people; whereas he had better fences for himself against sword and famine than they had. For his mercies are great; and therefore will not exceed measure in his strokes, as men will do. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait,.... Not knowing well which to choose, each of them being so grievous, and an answer being to be returned immediately; but by his next words, and by the event, it seems he chose the pestilence, though that is not expressly said:

let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; the Targum in 1 Chronicles 21:13, is"into the hand of the Word of the Lord:"

(for his mercies are great), and let me not fall into the hand of men; indeed all the three judgments mentioned are by the hand of the Lord whenever they come; but in the pestilence the hand of the Lord is more visible, it coming immediately from his hand, as especially this was to do, and did; it did not arise from second causes, a noxious air, &c. but by means of an angel of God: David chose this, because he and his people would have nothing to do with men, as in famine they must have gone into other countries for food, and in war flee before their enemies, and lie at their mercy, and either of them more disgraceful than this; and which he might the rather choose on his own account, that his people might not be able to say he sought himself and his own interest; for had he chosen famine, as his people had been lately distressed that way already, they might, besides urging that, say, that he could lay up stores for himself and family; or had he chosen war, they might observe he had fortified places to flee to, one after another, and shelter himself; but for the arrows of the pestilence he was as likely a mark as the meanest of his subjects: but what seems to have moved him chiefly to make this choice is, that it would not only be the soonest over, but that it wholly depended on the pleasure of God what use he would make of it in that time; and chiefly because he knew God was gracious and merciful, and it was upon his great mercy he cast himself and his people.

And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
14. his mercies are great] Cp. Psalm 51:1; and the reference to this passage in Sir 2:17-18 : “They that fear the Lord will prepare their hearts, and humble their souls in his sight, saying, We will fall into the hands of the Lord, and not into the hands of men: for as his majesty is, so is his mercy.”

The Sept. adds at the close of the verse: “And David chose him the pestilence (lit. death). And it was the days of wheat harvest.” War would place the nation at the mercy of its enemies: famine would make it dependent on corn-merchants, who might greatly aggravate the miseries of scarcity: only in the pestilence—some form of plague sudden and mysterious in its attack, and baffling the medical knowledge of the time—would the punishment come directly from God, and depend immediately upon His Will.Verse 14. - Let us fall now into the hand of Jehovah. David had sinned against God, and to God he humbly submitted himself. There would thus be nothing to come between the soul and God, and prevent the chastisement from having its due effect upon the heart. A famine would indeed equally come from God, but would necessitate effort and exertion on man's part. In the pestilence he would wait patiently, nor look to anything but prayer for averting God's judgment. In Psalm 51:1 David refers to God's mercies, in much the same way as here, as being a motive to repentance. When they had traversed the whole land, they came back to Jerusalem, at the end of nine months and twenty days, and handed over to the king the number of the people mustered: viz., 800,000 men of Israel fit for military service, drawing the sword, and 500,000 men of Judah. According to the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 21:5), there were 1,100,000 Israelites and 470,000 Judaeans. The numbers are not given by thousands, and therefore are only approximative statements in round numbers; and the difference in the two texts arose chiefly from the fact, that the statements were merely founded upon oral tradition, since, according to 1 Chronicles 27:4, the result of the census was not inserted in the annals of the kingdom. There is no ground, however, for regarding the numbers as exaggerated, if we only bear in mind that the entire population of a land amounts to about four times the number of those who are fit for military service, and therefore 1,300,000, or even a million and a half, would only represent a total population of five or six millions, - a number which could undoubtedly have been sustained in Palestine, according to thoroughly reliable testimony as to its unusual fertility (see the discussion of this subject at Numbers 1-4, Pentateuch, pp. 651-57). Still less can we adduce as a proof of exaggeration the fact, that according to 1 Chronicles 27:1-15, David had only an army of 288,000; for it is a well-known fact, that in all lands the army, or number of men in actual service, is, as a rule, much smaller than the total number of those who are capable of bearing arms. According to 1 Chronicles 21:6, the tribes of Levi and Benjamin were not numbered, because, as the chronicler adds, giving his own subjective view, "the word of the king was an abomination to Joab," or, as it is affirmed in 1 Chronicles 27:4, according to the objective facts, "because the numbering was not completed." It is evident from this, that in consequence of Joab's repugnance to the numbering of the people, he had not hurried with the fulfilment of the kings' command; so that when David saw his own error, he revoked the command before the census was complete, and so the tribe of Benjamin was not numbered at all, the tribe of Levi being of course eo ipso exempt from a census that was taken for the sake of ascertaining the number of men who were capable of bearing arms.
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