The Census, and the Pestilence in the Land

2 Sam 24:1-25

As the reign of David draws close to an end, he made another mistake that resulted in a severe pestilence in the land. God was angry when David went ahead to number Israel and Judah. Despite warnings from Joab, David gave the command to number all the people from Dan to Beer-sheba. So, after nine months and twenty days, the census was completed and Joab gave the king the figures – Eight hundred thousand valiant sword-drawing men in Israel, and five hundred thousand in Judah. We should however remember that it is nothing with God to save with few or with many.

It was after the counting that David saw the folly of what he had done. He asked God to forgive him as Gad the prophet had already told him that for his actions one of three punishments must come to pass: seven years of famine in the land, or three months of fleeing from enemies, or thirdly three days of pestilence in the land? David chose the pestilence as he reckoned that it was better to fall into God’s hand than the hands of men, God is merciful, men are not.

So, there was a pestilence from God and about seventy thousand men died. However when the angel was about to destroy Jerusalem, God had mercy and told the angel to stay his hand. This was at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. At Gad’s instruction, David went to raise an altar to the Lord at this threshing floor. Araunah initially wanted to give David the land free, but David would not offered unto God what cost him nothing, so he paid for the land.

So, David built the altar and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the Lord, and then the plague stopped.

God is merciful, despite our mistakes he would not punish forever. Have you sought him and asked for his mercies in your mess? He would lift you up and clean you up.

Some verses to remember

vs 25  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.


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