2 Samuel 24:17
And David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, See, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let your hand, I pray you, be against me, and against my father's house.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Samuel 24:17. These sheep, what have they done? — What? They have done many things amiss. Their rebellions and other vices had been many, and it was for their own sins, as well as for David’s, that this heavy judgment now befell them. The king, however, as became a penitent, is severe on his own faults, while he extenuates theirs. Let thy hand be against me — Herein David shows his piety and fatherly care of his people, and that he was a type of Christ; and against my father’s house — My nearest relations. These, probably, had either put David upon, or encouraged him in this action. And, besides, it was but fit that his family, who partook of his honour and happiness, should also partake in his sufferings, rather than those who were less related to him.24:16,17 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.Compare the passage in Chronicles. The account here is abridged; and 2 Samuel 24:18 has the appearance of being the original statement. 17. David … said—or, "had said,"

I have sinned … but these sheep, what have they done?—The guilt of numbering the people lay exclusively with David. But in the body politic as well as natural, when the head suffers, all the members suffer along with it; and, besides, although David's sin was the immediate cause, the great increase of national offenses at this time had (2Sa 24:1) kindled the anger of the Lord.

Let thine hand be against me; wherein David shows his justice, and piety, and fatherly care of his people, and that he was a type of Christ.

Against my father’s house; against my nearest relations, who probably either put David upon, or encouraged him in, this action, because they were no less vain-glorious than David; and the honour which they thought would come to David thereby, would also redound to them; or, at least, they did not use their utmost endeavours to dissuade David from it, as they should have done, and therefore were involved in David’s guilt. Howsoever, it was but fit and reasonable that his family, which did partake of his honour and happiness, should also partake in his suffering, rather than those who were less related to him. Nor doth David absolutely desire that they may suffer, but only speaks comparatively, and by way of supposition, and with reference to God’s good pleasure. And David spake unto the Lord,.... In prayer; he and the elders of Israel being clothed in sackcloth, and fallen on their faces, he prayed, not unto the angel, but to Jehovah that sent him; see 1 Chronicles 21:16,

when he saw the angel that smote the people; in the air over Jerusalem, with a drawn sword in his hand, which made him appear terrible:

and said, lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; in numbering the people:

but these sheep, what have they done? he looked upon himself as the only transgressor, and his people as innocent, and as harmless as sheep; he thought of no sins but his own; these were uppermost in his mind, and lay heavy on his conscience; and it grieved him extremely the his people should suffer on his account: but they were not so innocent as he thought and suggests; and it was not only for his, but their sins, this evil came; he was suffered to do what he did, to bring upon them deserved punishment for their rebellion against him, and other sins; however, this shows the high opinion he had of them, the great affection he had for them, and his sympathy with them in this time of distress:

let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house; let me and mine die, and not they; a type of Christ, the good Shepherd, willing to lay down his life for the sheep, and suffer in their stead, that they might go free.

And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they {k} done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.

(k) David did not see the just cause why God plagued the people, and therefore he offers himself for God's correction as the only cause of this evil.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. when he saw the angel] The writer of Chronicles, dwelling upon the details of the miraculous circumstances which attended the designation of the site of the Temple, records that “David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. And David and the elders, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces” (2 Samuel 21:16).

I have sinned, and I have done wickedly] It is I that have sinned and I that have done perversely. The pronoun is twice emphatically expressed. Sin is doubly described as missing an aim, coming short of the mark of duty; and as crooked or perverse action, following the leadings of self-will instead of the straightforward path of right. Cp. 1 Kings 8:47; Psalm 32:1-2.

these sheep, what have they done] Cp. ch. 2 Samuel 7:8; Psalm 74:1; Psalm 95:7. David takes all the blame upon himself, for his offence had been the immediate cause of the plague, and it is characteristic of true penitence to dwell exclusively on its own sin, without respect to the complicity of others. But it is clear from 2 Samuel 24:1 that the sin was the sin of the people as well as of David. See Additional Note v. p. 238.Verse 17. - I have done wickedly; Hebrew, I have done perversely, or crookedly. David acknowledges that his conduct had not been upright and straightforward, but that he had turned aside into the paths of self-will and personal aggrandizement. These sheep, what have they done? The sin had been quite as much that of the people as of the king; for the war lust had entered into the very heart of the nation. But David, with that warmth of feeling which makes his character so noble, can see only his own fault. It is not a true repentance when the sinner looks for excuses, and apportions the blame between himself and others. To David the people seemed innocent, or, if at all to blame, he felt that it was he who had set them the example and led them on. The narrative in this place is much briefer than in Chronicles. When he rose up in the morning, after he had calmly reflected upon the matter during the night upon his bed, and had been brought to see the folly of his determination, the prophet Gad came to him by the command of God, pointed out to him his fault, and foretold the punishment that would come from God. "Shall seven years of famine come upon thy land, or three months of flight before thine oppressors that they may pursue thee, or shall there be three days of pestilence in thy land? Now mark and see what answer I shall bring to Him that sendeth me." These three verses form one period, in which גד ויּבא (2 Samuel 24:13) answers as the consequent to וגו דּוד ויּקם in 2 Samuel 24:11, and the words from יהוה וּדבר (2 Samuel 24:11) to ואעשׂה־לּך) (2 Samuel 24:12) form a circumstantial clause inserted between. וגו יהוה וּדבר י: "and the word of the Lord had taken place (gone forth) to Gad, David's seer, saying, Go ... thus saith Jehovah, I lay upon thee three (things or evils); choose thee one of them that I may do it to thee." Instead of על נטל, to lay upon, we find נטה in the Chronicles, "to turn upon thee." The three things are mentioned first of all in connection with the execution of Gad's commission to the king. Instead of seven years of famine, we find three years in the Chronicles; the Septuagint has also the number three in the passage before us, and apparently it is more in harmony with the connection, viz., three evils to choose from, and each lasting through three divisions of time. But this agreement favours the seven rather than the three, which is open to the suspicion of being intentionally made to conform to the rest. נסך is an infinitive: "thy fleeing," for that thou fliest before thine enemies. In the Chronicles the last two evils are described more fully, but the thought is not altered in consequence.
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