Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.Let Me Fall Into the Hands of the Lord
2 Samuel 24:14
I. 'I am in a great strait.' How often we have all of us had to say that! Sometimes by our own sin, as David now; sometimes only by our own misfortune. But to whom did David say it? for that makes all the difference as to whether he said it wisely or foolishly. He asked the question of Gad, God's prophet; but mark you, David's seer, as it says also—the man who was the Lord's ambassador to David, and the man who also knew David best. We have prophets, it is true, no longer; but ambassadors from God we still have, namely, His priests. And as we shall never do wrong if we go to the great High Priest, and say to Him, 'I am in a great strait,' 'Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me,' so neither shall we be wrong if we go to the priests whom He has appointed in His own name, the shepherds whom He has set over His own fold, and tell them our troubles. David did wisely; and so shall we.
II. And what choice did he make? He made none at all; he left the whole matter in God's hands. 'Let me now fall into the hand of the Lord, for very great are His mercies.' No one ever really and earnestly and heartily said that—'Let me fall into the hand of the Lord'—and was lost. And why? because those hands were for us men and for our salvation nailed to the Cross, and are therefore mighty to save to the uttermost all that trust in them. It matters not from what degree of sin; it matters not in what extremity of danger; there is no limit to either: those blessed hands that wrought so many miracles, that cast out so many devils, that raised so many dead, they are able to heal us, to cleanse us, yes, and to raise us from any death of trespasses and sins.
III. You all know how remarkable a type David was of our Lord. Now see the great difference and contrast between them. David sinned, and the people suffered for his sake. 'These sheep,' he said, 'what have they done?' But, afterwards, it was the people that sinned, and the Son of David that suffered; it was expedient, as the Holy Ghost said by the mouth of wicked Caiaphas, 'that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not'. As it is written, 'But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, and with His stripes we are healed'. In the one case the shepherd sins, and the sheep are punished; in the other the sheep wander, and the Good Shepherd dies to bring them back to the fold.
—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, p. 85.
References.—XXIV. 14.—J. M. Neale, Readings for the Aged (4th Series), p. 161. XXIV. 24.—Church Times, vol. xxxvii. 1897, p. 240. E. S. Talbot, Keble College Sermons, 1870-76, p. 12.
For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,
And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
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.
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
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 done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.