2 Samuel 24* David numbers the people. (1-9) He chooses the pestilence.(10-15) The staying the pestilence. (16,17) David's sacrifice,The plague removed. (18-25)1-9 For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and inhis chastisement they received punishment. This example throwslight upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a usefullesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering ofthe people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable,trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, andthough he had written so much of trusting in God only. Godjudges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, atleast, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye ofGod, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Evenungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct inbelievers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious.But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures theysinfully covet. 10-15 It is well, when a man has sinned, if he has a heartwithin to smite him for it. If we confess our sins, we may prayin faith that God would forgive them, and take away, bypardoning mercy, that sin which we cast away by sincererepentance. What we make the matter of our pride, it is just inGod to take from us, or make bitter to us, and make it ourpunishment. This must be such a punishment as the people have alarge share in, for though it was David's sin that opened thesluice, the sins of the people all contributed to the flood. Inthis difficulty, David chose a judgment which came immediatelyfrom God, whose mercies he knew to be very great, rather thanfrom men, who would have triumphed in the miseries of Israel,and have been thereby hardened in their idolatry. He chose thepestilence; he and his family would be as much exposed to it asthe poorest Israelite; and he would continue for a shorter timeunder the Divine rebuke, however severe it was. The rapiddestruction by the pestilence shows how easily God can bringdown the proudest sinners, and how much we owe daily to theDivine patience. 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 thatcity; but the Lord repented him of the evil, changed not hismind, but his way. In the very place where Abraham was stayedfrom slaying his son, this angel, by a like countermand, wasstayed from destroying Jerusalem. It is for the sake of thegreat Sacrifice, that our forfeited lives are preserved from thedestroying angel. And in David is the spirit of a true shepherdof the people, offering himself as a sacrifice to God, for thesalvation of his subjects. 18-25 God's encouraging us to offer to him spiritualsacrifices, is an evidence of his reconciling us to himself.David purchased the ground to build the altar. God hates robberyfor burnt-offering. Those know not what religion is, who chieflycare to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are bestpleased with that which costs them least pains or money. Forwhat have we our substance, but to honour God with it; and howcan it be better bestowed? See the building of the altar, andthe offering proper sacrifices upon it. Burnt-offerings to theglory of God's justice; peace-offerings to the glory of hismercy. Christ is our Altar, our Sacrifice; in him alone we mayexpect to escape his wrath, and to find favour with God. Deathis destroying all around, in so many forms, and so suddenly,that it is madness not to expect and prepare for the close oflife.
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