24:1 Again [cf. 2 Sam. 21:1 re: famine as punishment for Saul’s slaughter of the Gibeonites] the anger of the LORD burned against Israel [precise reason not stated, but likely involved some violation of the law God had given His people], and he [God; note that 1 Chron. 21:1 names “Satan” as the one inciting David – an indication that everything is under God’s sovereign control and a reminder that Satan can act only in accord with what God allows him to do (cf. Job. 1:12; 2:6; Lk. 22:31)] incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
24:2 David wanted to know how many fighting men there were in the kingdom. The fact that the nation was not facing a national emergency hints that pride in his expanded kingdom may have motivated David. David’s census may also indicate that he began trusting more in his military might and human resources than in the Lord.
24:3-4 Joab expressed hesitancy about taking the census but obeyed David’s orders.
24:5-8 Description of Joab’s journey to conduct the census.
24:9 Joab’s report to David.
24:10 David was conscience-stricken [literally means “David’s heart struck him”] after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I [David took ownership of his sin; we must first own and then disown our sins] have sinned [cf. 2 Sam. 12:13 re: David’s earlier confession to Nathan concerning his sins against Bathsheba and Uriah] greatly in what I [David did not try to make excuses for his actions, or to blame others, or to blame circumstances, or to try to minimize or rationalize what he had done] have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you [words emphasize the emotion with which David spoke], take away the guilt [literally “perversity”] of your servant. I have done a very foolish [this Heb. term usually has a moral connotation] thing.”
Note: Why should we quickly repent of our sins when God convicts us of them? How does unconfessed sin impact our walk with God and our relationship with others?
24:11-14 The prophet Gad announced three options of punishment for David’s sin — a reminder that sin always has negative consequences. David could choose three years of famine, three months of military defeat, or three days of plague. David chose the third option.
24:15 So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan [one of Israel’s northernmost cities] to Beersheba [located in the extreme south of David’s kingdom] died.
24:16 Summary of the end of the plague (text seems to indicate that the Lord stopped the plague before the three specified days).
24:17 When David saw the angel [read detailed account in 1 Chron. 21:14-17] who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I [David assumed full blame for his action] am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand [symbol of God’s power and judgment] fall upon me and my family.”
Note: How consistently do you take responsibility for your sins and their consequences? Why is it important to take personal responsibility for your own sins and the consequences?
24:18-19 David instructed to build an altar on Araunah’s threshing floor where the plague had stopped.
24:20 Araunah bowed before David.
24:21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor [typically an enclosed area with a base of flat stones built on an elevated place],” David answered, “so I can build an altar [Israelites often built a marker or altar to commemorate a particular place the Lord had met them (cf. Gen. 12:7; 1 Sam. 7:12)] to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
24:22 Araunah [willing to offer more than what David had requested] said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood.
24:23 O king, Araunah gives [as a gift] all this [everything the king needed] to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.”
24:24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing [words reveal the depth of David’s relationship to the Lord].” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver [cf. 1 Chron. 21:25 re: David’s payment for enough land to hold entire temple complex] for them.
24:25 David built an altar to the LORD there [Solomon would later build the temple at this site (cf. 2 Chron. 3:1)] and sacrificed burnt offerings [often made as a general atonement for sins (cf. Lev. 1)] and fellowship offerings [also known as peace offerings, included fellowship meal between worshiper and priest (cf. Lev. 7:11-21, 28-36); represented restored fellowship between the worshiper and the Lord]. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.