This closing chapter of 2 Samuel begins with significant question as to who “He” that moved David to take a census of Israel and Judah was. 1 Chron. lets us know that it was Satan and not God. What purpose did this census serve? It would appear that David had another motive in addition to knowing the number of valiant men in the land. A number of scholars believe it was his intent to expand the nation’s borders and was seeking to know whether or not there were sufficient numbers to follow through for expansion.
Joab was commissioned to fulfill the king’s desire; which he was not in agreement with. It took them over nine months to accomplish the task; beginning East of the Jordan, going South, then to Northern frontier and finally on the Western portion of the nation.
Upon completing the task, we can almost see David expecting a good report; which was brought to him of eight hundred thousand in Israel and five hundred thousand in Judah. However Chronicles presents different number in each case.
Having been condemned in his heart in part due to Joab and likely in part due to Gad the prophet and possibly David’s own spiritual adviser and confidant. When God approached David, being presented with three options; David wisely choose to trust the Lord, but he didn’t want to be the target of men. He desired to “fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great”.
IN response, a plague commenced with an angel, that David saw, as well as Araunah, the land owner and his sons. David was directed by Gad to “erect an altar to the Lord” and offer a sacrifice. David offers Arunah a price for the land to build an altar; which Arunah attempted to give David. One oft quoted portion of scripture is found in verse 24; “nor will I offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God with that which costs me nothing.”
Acknowledging the humility and commitment to the altar’s construction and sacrifices; Arunah permits David to purchase and build the altar and offer the sacrifices. These made opportunity to the “plague” to be “withdrawn from Israel.”
Understand that we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own works; rather by His work on Calvary. Yet there is a price to pay in following the Lord. When we follow the Lord with a gratis card, our love for Him often is shallow and immature. Yet those who have paid the price, often with a great price, have a depth, wisdom and maturity to engage not only the enemy; but also to enable and empower people to do their best.
Pay the price and gain the eternal investment!