Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 24

David took Israel’s army out of God’s special protection

2 Samuel 24:11-14

In 1 Samuel 17:26, David called Israel’s army: ‘the armies of the living God’. Now, however, by his decision to count the men, David was acting as if it was David’s own army. David did not even collect the tax that God’s law demanded on such occasions (Exodus 30:11-16). However, the Bible describes that as a payment for the men’s lives (Exodus 30:12). Without that payment, their lives would be in danger.

God’s army does his (God’s) work in the world. It rescues weak and poor people from their powerful enemies. It does not depend on military strength (Psalm 20:7-8) or the number of its soldiers (1 Samuel 14:6). Its soldiers benefit from God’s special protection (Psalms 3 and 91).

David counted the men because he was trusting in the strength of his own army. So he was taking Israel’s army out of God’s special protection, into his own protection. In Psalm 82, God declares his judgement against people who behave like gods. That judgement is that they must do the work of God (Psalm 82:3-4). Of course they are too weak to do that. So, God has shown that they are only human.

God’s message by the prophet (holy man) called Gad, was that David must choose the punishment for his people. Usually God would decide about such matters, but in these circumstances, David must do it. David saw his mistake at once. He did not want the people to suffer any punishment. So, he was unable to make the decision instead of God. He could only ask God to show his mercy, his great kindness. In that way, God is very different from the cruel enemies that David had to fight. God shows mercy (Exodus 34:6-7) – but they showed no mercy whatever.

Next part: The evil angel and the angel of the Lord (2 Samuel 24:15-16)


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