Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 24

God’s judgement against David and against Israel

2 Samuel 24:1

David was now an old man. The time for Israel’s people to build the temple, God’s great house in Jerusalem, was near. God had said that they must do that during a time of peace (1 Chronicles 22:7-10). So, God gave Israel peace from all its enemies (22:1). However, during a time of peace and success, there can be particular dangers for a nation’s rulers and its people. We are referring here not to physical dangers, but rather to dangers that affect the rulers’ and the peoples’ relationship with God. They can become proud of their nation’s strength and importance. They can start to trust in the strength of their army, and not in God.

Satan, the devil, brought this matter to God’s great court of law in heaven (1 Chronicles 21:1; compare Zechariah 3:1). He accused David and Israel of wrong attitudes and proud thoughts about the strength of Israel’s army. God’s decision, as judge, was against Israel. In the past, David had trusted God to defend him against large and powerful armies (Psalm 3:6; Psalm 20:7-9). Now, David wanted to prove to himself that he led one of the largest armies in the region.

Satan was asking God to allow him to test David (compare Job 1:9-12). God decided to permit Satan to do this. So, God would not stop David if he wanted to count the men in his army. However, God did not approve of David’s plan – in fact, God was angry about it. If David did this wrong thing, then Israel would suffer a terrible punishment. In that way, David and the people would see how weak their army really was. God allowed this because the situation would then give them another opportunity to turn back to God. When they did that, the time would at last be right to prepare for the construction of the temple.

Next part: Joab warns David not to count Israel's men (2 Samuel 24:2-3)


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