Vs. 1, “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” The chronicler sheds more light into II Samuel 24, as he mentions Satan the adversary’s influence. Question: Why is census a bad thing? It was God’s permissive will that allowed the enemy to incite David to follow through with a census (vs. 1-7). It’s interesting to note that Joab understood that such a census was not something David should do. Taking a census was what pagan kings did to show off their power and might. David realizes this prideful sin and confesses it unto the Lord (vs. 8). Gad the prophet comes bearing an ominous message for the consequences that would come from the sinful census (vs. 11-13). Gad presents David with the three choices of consequences. In an interesting choice, David chooses plagues from God for he realizes that the wise choice was to put the consequence directly under the providence of God. The plague would destroy seventy thousand people; what a catastrophic event (vs. 14)! David’s heart is broken and he asks that the consequences fall directly to him (vs. 15-17). David building an alter (vs. 18-30) and paying the price reveals to us that David is the ideal king, though not perfect. The kings that would follow David would not be able to live up to his example, until the true King Jesus comes to fulfill the Davidic covenant.
Regarding application…Paying The Price. Vs. 24, “But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” Araunah wanted to please David by offering his threshing floor so that David could build an alter to the LORD. However, David would not hear of it. He understood something that cuts to our hearts today; there is a cost to sacrifice. What a timely reminder for us as we are now in our first week of the Lenten season! I think of Cain’s sacrifice not costing him enough (Genesis 4). I think of the Pharisee’s prayer vs. the tax collector (Luke 18). Certainly, God’s sacrifice of His son and Jesus’ obedience was a cost that can never be rivaled. We cannot pay the price. But, we can choose to honor him by prayer, fasting, and loving others!