Kingdom is for Costly Worship (2Samuel 24)



Frequency: Many of us have several preset radio stations in our vehicle. I push the buttons to switch stations whenever 1) lots of commercials, 2) a song I’m not interested in listening, 3) when traveling and the frequency is fading. The farther away from home the increase of static noise and loss of clarity occurs.

King David is older in age and has traveled a long journey. It seems his frequency for God has increased the static noise and loss of clarity. However, he also is aware when he needs to turn around to go home to return to the right frequency.

Today’s message will conclude our series in 2Samuel and summarily conclude David’s life. In 2Sam 24 we will examine 3 features of what it meant for David to worship God.


EXAMINE           2Samuel 19-24          God’s Kingdom is for Costly Worship

Worship of God involves an accountable heart (2Samuel 24:1-10)

2Sam 24:1 David had census for Israel but it was wrong in God’s eyes. Some possible reasons include:

–        Anxiety (worry): David restless, lacking faith and trust in God to protect so he shifts trust to military power.

o   Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

o   Cf. 1Sam 14:6; Isa 31:1.

–        Arrogance (pride): David seeking to boast and marvel at his own kingdom, when it was God’s doing.

–        Aggression (fight): Pride and worry often lead to anger. Perhaps David’s readying for war, building military in effort to garner more territory, which is not instructed from the Lord at this point.

–        Adoration of God – If only this was his motivation!

v  As pastor, I can relate to all these factors. I stress for why SPBC isn’t growing as much. On occasion I take pride to see that we more than doubled attendance in 3 years, but then God humbles me with the last 3 years of plateau and some numerical decline. My/our identity should always be according to grace afforded through Jesus Christ, trusting He knows what is best for His church and how it should grow. My/our job is faithfulness. God’s job is to harvest the fruit.

Joab tried to warn David against this wrongful act (2Sam 24:3), but David is stubborn.

Yet, David was also sensitive in that later he heeds the Spirit’s prompting. David was “troubled” [nakah: to be attacked or assaulted]. In other words, David was burdened and broken deep inside by what He had done before the Lord.

–        “David’s heart struck him [troubled] after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of Thy servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (2Sam 24:10)

–        “Behold I have sinned and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house.” (2Sam 24:17)

David’s sensitivity to sin is characterized by 1) Confession of wrongdoing, 2) Confessing the need for God’s mercy, 3) Committing to repent and change with God’s help.

è In Christian life sanctification we often fall short in the area of the last component of committing to change with God’s help. We can sorta admit we are wrong. We can admit we need God’s forgiveness. Yet, we stay stuck by not applying God’s resources to help us change.

o   Either we think God’s resources are too elementary that we overlook them. Fervent prayer, dedicated Bible study and Scripture memory, Christian community and authentic accountability. These are the basic tools for spiritual growth yet how serious do we employ them for our good?

o   Or, we presume God’s grace as automatic and will endlessly cover our sin despite any deep sincerity to change. In this case the gospel is treated is a “cheap grace” and our faith becomes compartmentalized rather than integrated into every area of our life. This view lacks understanding of the Christian faith, and is not “good soil” but lacking the roots of gospel clarity. (Cf. Matt 7:15-27; 13:18-23; Rom 6-8; Gal 2:20-21; 5:13-26; Titus 3:11-14; 1John 1:5-10; 3:4-10; 5:1-5).

◊      Note that 2Sam 24:1 indicates the Lord incited David to do the census, yet there’s also communication it was under the Lord’s anger. However, 1Chronicles 21:1 records that Satan incited David in this action. 2Sam is merely showing God’s sovereignty while 1Chron reports the source of David’s sins.

o   God’s sovereignty is responsible for all that happens in creation. Yet, God’s sovereignty also accommodates our free will in temptation, allowing evil circumstances and sin to occur in our world. Nothing is beyond God’s control and care as He is working all things together according to His purposes.

o   Humans are not puppets but are moving along inside God’s plan. Some examples to help understanding, but still fall short.

  • Vehicles and computers are operated by humans but still react with a ‘mind of their own’. Machines are fully dependent on humans but have the utmost potential in power. Likewise, humans rely upon God who grants us authority and power.
  • Fish swimming in a river who are free to roam, while in another sense they must follow the river current.
  • Parent-child relationship where the parent gives instruction and boundaries while children may follow but within their own personality and discernment.

o   *We also know God is holy, w/o sin, and does not tempt (1John 1:5; James 1:13). Humans fully choose on their own to obey or object to God’s purpose and principles; and yet, our actions never obstruct or hinder God’s sovereign plans.

o   **The reality is that God’s sovereignty cannot be fully understood this side of eternity, and perhaps there will still be more to learn even in eternity. (Deut 29:29; Isa 55:8-9). Consider the fact that God created the world with words, inclusive of all the periodic table elements, and the complexities of DNA, and the wisdom of modern technology to bring together pb & chocolate! All the while, we have trouble working DVD players, hooking up printers, or setting up smart phones. We have to acknowledge our finiteness attempting to understand the infinite. God made us in His image and we must not try to make Him fit our image. In layman’s terms: quit trying to make God as ignorant as humanity.

o   ***We need to remain humble before a great and sovereign God. We should approach God with less swagger and greater surrender.


◊      Note also that 2Sam 24:9 counts the people as 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,00. While 1Chron 21 counts the people as 1,100,000 men with sword and 470,000 in Judah. Why the discrepancy? The total population was likely around 5 million.[1]

o   One possibility is that 1Chron 27 notes 24,000 x 12 (288,000) in Israel’s army. So, perhaps the census assumed this was the base army and then only counted the additional men; so the 800K + 288K and rounding up account for the 1.1 million men. Same for rounding up the men of Judah in the Chronicles.[2]

o   Another possibility is Joab’s incomplete or inaccurate accounting that was recorded differently across verbal transmission (cf. 1Chron 21:6; 27:24).

o   And yet another possible explanation is scribal error that did occur occasionally. Scribal errors are manuscript copy mistakes that often relate to numbers, or exchanged word order or omissions. Noted is that no scribal errors account for any change of doctrine or message content for the Christian faith.[3]


Worship of God involves a merciful Savior (2Sam 24:11-17).

David spent the night in shame and guilt. David’s sin created a wave of damage and left a wake of judgment.

è Sin spreads and squeezes life; its wage is high and penalty steep. 70K+ will die as a result of David’s sin (2Sam 24:15).

è Some hear about the consequences of sin so frequently that they doubt and dismiss this warning.

  “Sin does not serve well as gardener of the soul. It landscapes the contour of the soul until all that is beautiful has been made ugly; until all that is high is made low; until all that is promising is wasted. Then life is like a desert – parched and barren. It is drained of purpose. It is bleached of happiness. Sin, then, is not wise, but wasteful. It is not a gate, but only a grave.”[4]

David awakes to the prophet Gad confronting him with the word of the Lord to select 1 of 3 punishments: 1) 3 years of famine, 2) 3 months of fleeing enemies, 3) 3 days pestilence. David would rather choose option 4) None of the above (ha!)… instead he says “I am in great distress [tsarar: to be tied up, restricted, cramped; cf Psalm 32:3-4]. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.” (2 Sam 24:14)

David knew God to be gracious but mankind to be judgmental. David wanting no part of his past fleeing from Saul and enemy armies, by default he chooses a plague from God. Interestingly, God punishes David with the least of time (3 days rather than 3 months or years). Important to note is that God’s judgment on sin is perfectly fair and just (cf. Exodus 30:12). Yet, God’s judgment is merciful in time to relent,

“It is enough” (2Sam 24:16)

“The Lord responded to the plea for the land and the plague was averted from Israel.” (2Sam 24:25)

“The Lord commanded the angel and he put his sword back in its sheath.” (1Chron 21:27)

è God’s rescue often comes through anguish and affliction. There are painful circumstances of our life that God is using to gain our attention and cause us to adjust our faith and alter our hope. The ultimate suffering God uses is His very own Son that we might look upon Him for security and salvation.

è As David, our only hope is the merciful Savior Jesus Christ. God is ever gracious to achieve what we cannot do on our own through the perfect life of Jesus; and to fully and finally atone for the punishment we deserve through the death of Jesus; and accomplish the entirety of our salvation.

Worship of God involves sacrificial obedience (2Samuel 24:18-25)

David is humbled and broken over his sin. He becomes compliant and obedient by immediately following the prophet Gad’s instructions by the Lord. When Araunah saw King David and servants he sought to help him, and even give him the materials necessary for sacrifice. David’s sin wasn’t public knowledge and Araunah didn’t know; he only viewed his king in the highest of honor. Yet, David did not take advantage of his servant. Again, David was humbled by his servant’s offer but he understood that God was requiring his sacrificial obedience in response to avoid the judgment on his sin.  David responds, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” (2Sam 24:24).

◊      Note: “The discrepancy between the “six hundred shekels of gold” in 1 Chr 21:25 and “fifty shekels of silver” often has been explained on the basis of the different objects in view. Chronicles gives this as the price of “the site,” which included land for the whole temple complex, whereas the fifty shekels of silver covered only the threshing floor and the oxen.”[5]

◊      David’s obedience is in response to God’s salvation, not a measure of earning salvation.

The location of David’s sacrifice is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice. According to 1Chron 22:1 & 2Chron 3:1 the place where David offered sacrifice became the temple site, which is further identified with Mount Moriah (Gen 22:2, 14) the place where Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his son Isaac; and also later known as the place where Jesus was sacrificed.

–        David’s sacrifice averted a physical plague of judgment upon Israel.

–        Jesus’ sacrifice averted the spiritual plague of judgment upon the whole world (cf. 1Peter 2:24).



Worship of God involves an accountable heart (2Samuel 24:1-10)

Worship of God involves a merciful Savior (2Sam 24:11-17).

Worship of God involves sacrificial obedience (2Samuel 24:18-25)


David’s reign died.

1Chronicles 29:28 “Then David died in a ripe old age, full of days, riches and honor; and his son Solomon reigned in his place.”

Acts 13:36 “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay.”


Jesus lives forever and is coming back.

Hebrews 7:24-25 “[Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

Hebrews 9:28 “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.”

The Bible is more than just a book of stories but HIStory coming to life when we realize the identity of Jesus in

–        His fulfilling prophecy

–        His forever reign

–        His foretold return



[1] A.A. Anderson, Word Biblical Commentary on 2Samuel 24:9.

[2] J.B. Payne, Expositors Bible Commentary – 1, 2 Chronicles (p.407 or note on 1Chron 21:4-7.

[3] A brief summary of scribal errors and their explanation, listing further reference background can be found at and Accessible resources on the topic is Norman Geisler on When Critics Asks, & Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Additional academic resources: Kitchen on Reliablity of OT, Walt Kaiser on OT Documents, Brotzman on OT Textual Criticism, David Alan Black on Textual Criticism, Bruce Metzger on NT Transmission, Michael J Kruger on Canon Revisited, Daniel Wallace on Revisiting Corruption of NT, F.F. Bruce on Canon of Scripture, and Are they Reliable,  Craig Blomberg on Historical Reliability of NT,  Gleason Archer on Bible Difficulties.

[4] C. Neil Strait, Quote Unquote, compiled by Lloyd Cory (Wheaton, Ill: Victor Books, 1977), 297.

[5] Thompson, J. A. (1994). 1, 2 Chronicles (Vol. 9). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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