2 Kingdoms*, Chapter 24
In verse 1 of this chapter, we read that God incites David against his people of Israel. It is not saying that God caused him to sin. Rather, it represents a reflection of the sinful state of David’s soul, since, against God’s wishes, David decided to conduct a census and count his people. This stirring of David bears parallels to the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus 4:21. Much like Pharaoh, it was David’s decision to harden his own heart, rather than God interfering with free will.
The decision to take a census does not seem altogether bad in our modern context – we have one every five years in Australia! However, in the Mosaic law, carrying out a census was strictly forbidden (Ex 30:12). David was taking the census out of pride, to see the extent of his worldly power and know the number of men that could serve under him.
His pride was subsequently punished: God gave David the hard choice of either three years of famine, three months of invasion or three days of plague (v 13)!
David chose the plague, and when it was about to hit Jerusalem, he and all the people wore sackcloth, pleading with God for their lives. This plea and the humbling of David was heard, and the plague did not destroy Jerusalem.
As a result, David went up to Mount Zion and bought the property of the thresher, Orna, to build a Temple at the spot where the angel who was destroying the people stopped. Orna was a Jebusite, one of the original tribes which inhabited Jerusalem before the Israelites arrived. A key feature of verses 18-25 is the bargaining between Orna and David. This is important for David’s repentance and rehabilitation. In not taking the threshing floor for free, but paying 50 shekels of silver, David personally bears the cost of his sin, just as we do when we miss the mark. However, it was not ordained for David to build this Temple on this location. That honour was saved for his heir, Solomon.
*In some Bibles, 2 Kingdoms is referred to as 2 Samuel.
Source: Lychnos February/March 2018