SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Samuel 23:1-24:25
23:1 These are the final words of David:
“The oracle of David son of Jesse,
the oracle of the man raised up as
the ruler chosen by the God of Jacob,
Israel’s beloved singer of songs:
2 The Lord’s Spirit spoke through me;
his word was on my tongue.
3 The God of Israel spoke,
the Protector of Israel spoke to me.
The one who rules fairly among men,
the one who rules in the fear of God,
4 is like the light of morning when the sun comes up,
a morning in which there are no clouds.
He is like the brightness after rain
that produces grass from the earth.
5 My dynasty is approved by God,
for he has made a perpetual covenant with me,
arranged in all its particulars and secured.
He always delivers me,
and brings all I desire to fruition.
6 But evil people are like thorns—
all of them are tossed away,
for they cannot be held in the hand.
7 The one who touches them
must use an iron instrument
or the wooden shaft of a spear.
They are completely burned up right where they lie!”
8 These are the names of David’s warriors:
Josheb Basshebeth, a Tahkemonite, was head of the officers. He killed 800 men with his spear in one battle. 9 Next in command was Eleazar son of Dodo, the son of Ahohi. He was one of the three warriors who were with David when they defied the Philistines who were assembled there for battle. When the men of Israel retreated, 10 he stood his ground and fought the Philistines until his hand grew so tired that it seemed stuck to his sword. The Lord gave a great victory on that day. When the army returned to him, the only thing left to do was to plunder the corpses.
11 Next in command was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines assembled at Lehi, where there happened to be an area of a field that was full of lentils, the army retreated before the Philistines. 12 But he made a stand in the middle of that area. He defended it and defeated the Philistines; the Lord gave them a great victory.
13 At the time of the harvest three of the thirty leaders went down to David at the cave of Adullam. A band of Philistines was camped in the valley of Rephaim. 14 David was in the stronghold at the time, while a Philistine garrison was in Bethlehem. 15 David was thirsty and said, “How I wish someone would give me some water to drink from the cistern in Bethlehem near the gate!” 16 So the three elite warriors broke through the Philistine forces and drew some water from the cistern in Bethlehem near the gate. They carried it back to David, but he refused to drink it. He poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord 17 and said, “O Lord, I will not do this! It is equivalent to the blood of the men who risked their lives by going.” So he refused to drink it. Such were the exploits of the three elite warriors.
18 Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was head of the three. He killed 300 men with his spear and gained fame among the three. 19 From the three he was given honor and he became their officer, even though he was not one of the three.
20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a brave warrior from Kabzeel who performed great exploits. He struck down the two sons of Ariel of Moab. He also went down and killed a lion in a cistern on a snowy day. 21 He also killed an impressive-looking Egyptian. The Egyptian wielded a spear, while Benaiah attacked him with a club. He grabbed the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada, who gained fame among the three elite warriors. 23 He received honor from the 30 warriors, though he was not one of the three elite warriors. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
24 Included with the 30 were the following: Asahel the brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem, 25 Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa, 27 Abiezer the Anathothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, 29 Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ittai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin, 30 Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai from the wadis of Gaash, 31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan 33 son of Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maacathite, Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite, 36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Beerothite (the armor-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah), 38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 39 and Uriah the Hittite. Altogether there were 37.
24:1 The Lord’s anger again raged against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go count Israel and Judah.” 2 The king told Joab, the general in command of his army, “Go through all the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beer Sheba and muster the army, so I may know the size of the army.”
3 Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God make the army a hundred times larger right before the eyes of my lord the king! But why does my master the king want to do this?”
4 But the king’s edict stood, despite the objections of Joab and the leaders of the army. So Joab and the leaders of the army left the king’s presence in order to muster the Israelite army.
5 They crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, on the south side of the city, at the wadi of Gad, near Jazer. 6 Then they went on to Gilead and to the region of Tahtim Hodshi, coming to Dan Jaan and on around to Sidon. 7 Then they went to the fortress of Tyre and all the cities of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they went on to the Negev of Judah, to Beer Sheba. 8 They went through all the land and after nine months and twenty days came back to Jerusalem.
9 Joab reported the number of warriors to the king. In Israel there were 800,000 sword-wielding warriors, and in Judah there were 500,000 soldiers.
10 David felt guilty after he had numbered the army. David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly by doing this! Now, O Lord, please remove the guilt of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
11 When David got up the next morning, the Lord’s message had already come to the prophet Gad, David’s seer: 12 “Go, tell David, ‘This is what the Lord has said: I am offering you three forms of judgment. Pick one of them and I will carry it out against you.’”
13 Gad went to David and told him, “Shall seven years of famine come upon your land? Or shall you flee for three months from your enemies with them in hot pursuit? Or shall there be three days of plague in your land? Now decide what I should tell the one who sent me.” 14 David said to Gad, “I am very upset! I prefer that we be attacked by the Lord, for his mercy is great; I do not want to be attacked by human hands!”
15 So the Lord sent a plague through Israel from the morning until the completion of the appointed time, and 70,000 people died from Dan to Beer Sheba. 16 When the angel extended his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented from his judgment. He told the angel who was killing the people, “That’s enough! Stop now!” (Now the angel of the Lord was near the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.)
17 When he saw the angel who was destroying the people, David said to the Lord, “Look, it is I who have sinned and done this evil thing! As for these sheep—what have they done? Attack me and my family.”
18 So Gad went to David that day and told him, “Go up and build an altar for the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up as Gad instructed him to do, according to the Lord’s instructions.
20 When Araunah looked out and saw the king and his servants approaching him, he went out and bowed to the king with his face to the ground. 21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David replied, “To buy from you the threshing floor so I can build an altar for the Lord, so that the plague may be removed from the people.” 22 Araunah told David, “My lord the king may take whatever he wishes and offer it. Look! Here are oxen for burnt offerings, and threshing sledges and harnesses for wood. 23 I, the servant of my lord the king, give it all to the king!” Araunah also told the king, “May the Lord your God show you favor!” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it from you! I will not offer to the Lord my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”
So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 50 pieces of silver. 25 Then David built an altar for the Lord there and offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings. And the Lord accepted prayers for the land, and the plague was removed from Israel.