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 in

his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws

light upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a useful

lesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of

the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable,

trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and

though he had written so much of trusting in God only. God

judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at

least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of

God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even

ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in

believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious.

But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they

sinfully covet.
10-15 It is well, when a man has sinned, if he has a heart

within to smite him for it. If we confess our sins, we may pray

in faith that God would forgive them, and take away, by

pardoning mercy, that sin which we cast away by sincere

repentance. What we make the matter of our pride, it is just in

God to take from us, or make bitter to us, and make it our

punishment. This must be such a punishment as the people have a

large share in, for though it was David's sin that opened the

sluice, the sins of the people all contributed to the flood. In

this difficulty, David chose a judgment which came immediately

from God, whose mercies he knew to be very great, rather than

from men, who would have triumphed in the miseries of Israel,

and have been thereby hardened in their idolatry. He chose the

pestilence; he and his family would be as much exposed to it as

the poorest Israelite; and he would continue for a shorter time

under the Divine rebuke, however severe it was. The rapid

destruction by the pestilence shows how easily God can bring

down the proudest sinners, and how much we owe daily to the

Divine 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 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.
18-25 God's encouraging us to offer to him spiritual

sacrifices, is an evidence of his reconciling us to himself.

David purchased the ground to build the altar. God hates robbery

for burnt-offering. Those know not what religion is, who chiefly

care to make it cheap and easy to themselves, and who are best

pleased with that which costs them least pains or money. For

what have we our substance, but to honour God with it; and how

can it be better bestowed? See the building of the altar, and

the offering proper sacrifices upon it. Burnt-offerings to the

glory of God's justice; peace-offerings to the glory of his

mercy. Christ is our Altar, our Sacrifice; in him alone we may

expect to escape his wrath, and to find favour with God. Death

is destroying all around, in so many forms, and so suddenly,

that it is madness not to expect and prepare for the close of

life.

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