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CHAPTER 24 Aug. 6 
David Numbers Israel and Judah
Again the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them saying, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2The king said to Joab the captain of the army, who was with him, Now go back and forth through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the sum of the people. 3Joab said to the king, Now may Yahweh your God add to the people, however many they may be, one hundred times; and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king delight in this thing? 4Notwithstanding, the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the army. Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. 5They passed over the Jordan, and encamped in Aroer, on the right side of the city that is in the middle of the valley of Gad, and to Jazer: 6then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtim Hodshi; and they came to Dan Jaan, and around to Sidon, 7and came to the stronghold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites; and they went out to the south of Judah, at Beersheba. 8So when they had gone back and forth through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9Joab delivered the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
David Begs God's Mercy
 10David’s heart struck him after that he had numbered the people. David said to Yahweh, I have sinned greatly in that which I have done. But now, Yahweh, put away, I beg you, the iniquity of Your servant; for I have done very foolishly. 11When David rose up in the morning, the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12Go and speak to David, ‘Thus says Yahweh, I offer you three things. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you’. 13So Gad came to David, and told him, and said to him, Shall seven 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 of plague in your land? Now answer, and consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me. 14David said to Gad, I am in distress; let us fall now into the hand of Yahweh; for His mercies are great. Let me not fall into the hand of man. 15So Yahweh sent a plague on Israel from the morning even to the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. 16When the angel stretched out his hand towards Jerusalem to destroy it, Yahweh relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who destroyed the people, It is enough. Now stay your hand. The angel of Yahweh was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17David had spoken to Yahweh when he saw the angel who struck the people, and had said, Behold, I have sinned, and I have done perversely; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Your hand be against me, and against my father’s house.
The Plague Afflicting Israel Is Stopped
18Gad came that day to David and said to him, Go up, build an altar to Yahweh on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19David went up according to the saying of Gad, as Yahweh commanded. 20Araunah looked out, and saw the king and his servants coming on towards him. Then Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king with his face to the ground. 21Araunah said, Why has my lord the king come to his servant? David said, To buy your threshing floor, to build an altar to Yahweh, that the plague may be stopped from afflicting the people. 22Araunah said to David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Behold, the cattle for the burnt offering, and the threshing instruments and the yokes of the oxen for the wood: 23all this, my king, does Araunah give to the king. Araunah said to the king, May Yahweh your God accept you. 24The king said to Araunah, No; but I will most certainly buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to Yahweh my God which cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. 25David built an altar to Yahweh there, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So Yahweh heard the prayer for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.


24:1 The books of Samuel and Chronicles are parallel accounts of the same incidents, as the four gospels are records of the same events but using different language. 2 Sam. 24:1 says that Yahweh moved David against Israel in order to make him take a census of Israel. The parallel account in 1 Chron. 21:1 says that “Satan” moved David  to take the census. In one passage God does the ‘moving’, in the other Satan does it. The only conclusion is that God acted as a ‘Satan’ or adversary to David. He did the same to Job by bringing trials into his life, so that Job said about God: “With the strength of Your hand You oppose me” (Job 30:21); ‘You are acting as a Satan against me’, was what Job was basically saying. The word ‘satan’ of itself carries no sinful or evil connotation; it simply means an adversary. See on 19:22.
24:14 It is truly written in the context of God’s final condemnation that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). But David said that he would prefer to fall into the hands of God rather than into the hands of man. To fall into the hands of God is thus a figure for judgment / condemnation by Him. Fearful as it is, it is actually far milder than the judgment of men. This is how cruel our judgment of others can be; this is how awful is human condemnation of each other. It is worse that God’s. No wonder that the Lord established “Judge not…” as a foundation principle for His true people. God is kinder than men. It's better to be punished by Him than by men. This puts paid to the Catholic conception of God as a merciless torturer of wicked men. Clearly the doctrine of eternal torments was invented by men, not God.
24:16,17 Thanks to David building an altar at his own expense and asking God to kill him and his family, God stopped the plague upon Israel; the stretched out hand of God in destruction was what David asked to be upon him and his family. Israel were suffering the effect of their own sin, in not paying the temple tax (Ex. 30:11-16); but in the spirit of Christ, David was willing to die for them. And his dominant desire was counted as if it had been done, and thanks to his self-sacrificial spirit, the people were saved when they personally were unworthy. The wrath of God can be turned away by the actions of those He is angry with (Num. 25:4; Dt. 13:15-17; Ezra 10:14; Jonah 3:7,10; 2 Chron. 12:7; Jer. 4:4; 21:12). And yet that wrath can also be turned away by the prayers of a third party (Ps. 106:23; Jer. 18:20; Job 42:7). This means that in some cases, our prayers for others can be counted as if they have repented. We can gain our brother for God’s Kingdom (Mt. 18:15), as Noah saved his own house by his faithful preparation (Heb. 11:7).