The Plague Stayed
2 Samuel 24:15-25
So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning even to the time appointed…

1. In this lesson we have, first, an account of the judgment: "So the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel; and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men." Here is judgment following repentance and confession. There are some sins which, though truly repented of and forgiven, still bring retributive consequences from which the transgressor cannot escape in this life. He must wear them as brands of condemnation set upon sin by Divine justice for his own and others' good. These consequences, while they come in just retribution, are also sent in mercy as God's barriers against the progress of sin. It is here affirmed that the Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel. Plagues and pestilence have various national and physical causes. But it is equally plain that they are connected with the sins and follies of men. They are the penalties of violated law. In other words, they have a place in the righteous government of God, and so come to execute His will. Here the pestilence is attributed, instrumentally, to angelic agency.

2. This lesson furnishes an example of true penitence. Here is a case of genuine repentance which is accepted with God. David's confession was not extorted from him by the pressure of the Divine judgment. Before it came he saw his sin, and said unto the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in that I have done." Divine judgments are often, indeed, instrumental in arousing men to see the enormity of their guilt. They are used as goads to prick a dull and sleeping conscience. But true penitence is not the result of fear. It springs from seeing the hatefulness and wickedness of sin as done against the wisdom, justice, holiness and love of God. Sin is folly, and brings ruin to the transgressor, but its chief enormity lies in the fact that it is done against a God of holiness and love. So true confession is confession to God.

3. This lesson also shows us how saving mercy was obtained for Israel. The judgment of God was righteously destroying the people, and His mercy, though free, sovereign and ready to save, could not ignore His righteousness. There must be a way opened for its manifestation if Jerusalem is saved. This is secured through the Divine appointment. David is directed by Gad, a prophet of the Lord, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague might be stayed from the people. It was not by David's tears of penitence and confession of sin that the plague was stayed. In like manner, not our tears or prayers or confessions, but the blood of Christ shed for us, furnishes the only ground for the removal of the sentence of death which the broken law of God has passed upon us. He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

4. This passage presents another feature of spiritual life worthy of attention. It is the spirit of generosity and unselfishness manifested by David in fulfilling the command of God. Here was royal liberality; and it is set down to his everlasting honour in the Word of God that he gave "like a king." He stands before us as a noble representative of those large-hearted, generous men who are ever ready, when the occasion demands, to sacrifice their private interests for the public good. And never did David make a better investment of his means than when he bought Araunah's threshing-floor. It was the building-lot for the temple which for a thousand years prefigured Christ, and so became a fountain of blessing to the nations. Money invested in such a cause is not lost, but laid up in store for the life to come.

(S. D. Niccolls, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

WEB: So Yahweh sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning even to the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.

The Pestilence
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