The Last Words of David
June 18th, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
2 Samuel 24:17-25
THE LAST WORDS OF DAVID
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 24:17-25
6-18-61 7:30 p.m.
Now in our Bible we turn to the last chapter of 2 Samuel, chapter 24; 2 Samuel, chapter 24. We begin reading at verse 17, and read to the end of the chapter. Second Samuel, the last chapter, about the middle of your Old Testament, and share your Bible with your neighbor, and all of us read it together. Second Samuel chapter 24, beginning at verse 17 and reading to the end, now all of us reading it together, 2 Samuel 24, the last chapter, verse 17:
And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let Thine hand, I pray Thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto Him, Go up, rear an altar unto the Lord in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the Lord commanded.
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Aruanah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord and king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshing floor of thee, to build an altar unto the Lord, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
[2 Samuel 24:17-25]
Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mt. Moriah [1 Kings 6:1], where the Lord appeared unto David his father [2 Chronicles 3:1], in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite [2 Samuel 24:23-24].
And I’ve heard before of Mt. Moriah. It was in a day when the Lord God would try Abraham to see if after the passing of the years, it was still first God, and the promises of God, and then the lad Isaac, in whom his name, and his seed, and his house should be called:
And the Lord said to Abraham, Take now thine only son, thy son Isaac, and go unto the mountain that I shall tell thee of, and there offer him unto Me. And Abraham took his boy, and on third day they saw the mount," Mount Moriah. And Abraham took his son, with fire, and wood, and a knife, and ascended to the height of the mount; and there on an altar made out of unhewn stones, he bound his boy, placed him on the wood, and lifted up the knife to take his life, believing that God was able to raise him from the dead
[Genesis 22:1-10; Hebrews 11:19]
For in Isaac God had said, "In Isaac shall thy seed and thy name be called" [Genesis 21:12; Hebrews 11:18]. The Lord stayed His hand [Genesis 22:11-12]; and from that moment until this hour and forever, Mt. Moriah was a sacred and a holy place. Now it came about in the last years of the reign of David:
Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said. . .
[2 Samuel 23:1]
And then after he sings the psalm [2 Samuel 23:2-7], why, I turn the page, and I come to this place in his life. After all, he was another man; his feet were made out of clay, though he was the man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22], the anointed of God [1 Samuel 16:12-13], the prophet who sang the songs that we sing today, the Psalter, the psalms. David, in the last part of his life, had a reign free from war and from scourge and from death; and it was a reign of peace and of prosperity. And the last ten years of his life, he lived in great fame as the head of a wonderful kingdom. Now, in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of  Samuel it says, "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and God moved David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah" [2 Samuel 24:1]. Now 1 Chronicles, in saying this, in depicting and delineating this story, says, that Satan moved David to do this [1 chronicles 21:1].
One of the members of our congregation came to me – one of our youngsters came to me last week – and said, "Why is it that we have the story in Chronicles that we have in Samuel and in Kings, why do we have both of them there?" Well, the reason for that is this: Mark was an original document, this is an illustration. Mark, the Gospel of Mark, was a first and original document; and when Matthew wrote his Gospel, and when Luke wrote his Gospel, they took Mark as a document, and between Matthew and Luke you have all of Mark incorporated in those two evangelists’ stories of the life of Jesus. But you still have Mark, the original document.
Now, so it is with Chronicles; the chronicler lived a long time after the man who wrote 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings; those four are of one book, they go all along together; one book, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings. And they were early and original documents. And the men who wrote the Chronicles are the men who were the chroniclers. They took these original documents, and many, many of the things that you find in the original documents you find incorporated in the Chronicles.
Now the Chronicles was written and composed from an altogether different point of view from 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings; for the chronicler is interested in the temple, and in the Levitical worship, and in the things that concern the building of the temple and its worship, and the glory of its singing, and its praise to God. The man who wrote 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings, or the men who did it, were interested mostly in some of those great stories that we’ve been following this day.
So in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Samuel, you have the early recounting of this thing that came to pass [2 Samuel 24:1-9]. Now, in Samuel it says that God moved David to do this [2 Samuel 24:1], and in Chronicles it says Satan moved him to do it [1 Chronicles 21:1]. Now the reason for that is this: in the Hebrew mind, the permissive will of God was also attributed to God Himself. What God allowed was a thing that God did; so when David did this thing that grieved God and was an affront to God, when David did it, the man who wrote 2 Samuel: 24 said that the Lord moved him to do it [2 Samuel 24:1], and the chronicler says Satan moved him to do it [1 Chronicles 21:1]. By that the chronicler meant that, in God’s permissive will, Satan was allowed to move this thing, to do this thing, to bring this thing about that brought the judgment and the wrath of God upon Israel [2 Samuel 24:12-17; 1 Chronicles 21:9-17].
Now, in that persuasion, all of us who believe in God concur. There’s not anything that happens in this world that does not happen in the permissive will of God. These tragedies that come and these sorrows that come, there’s a great God above and beyond them who reigns over this earth [Psalm 22:27-28], and these things are still in His hand. We are never to be persuaded that Satan has taken this world and run away with it, and that God no longer controls it. Everything that happens above or below or around us is still in the permissive will of the Almighty. And whether you say Satan did it or whether you say God permitted it, it is still the same thing. So this original writer in Samuel 24 says that God moved David to number Israel [2 Samuel 24:1].
Now, we don’t know what happened. All it says here is that after David had done it, his heart smote him [2 Samuel 24:10]. He felt convicted in his soul. There was nothing wrong with numbering Israel. The Book of Numbers is built, it got its name, from the numbering of Israel in the wilderness. And several times you have the numbering of Israel. Each time they were numbered they brought atonement money [Exodus 30:12], and some think that David omitted that; therefore he fell into this grievous error. I do not know. That doesn’t appeal to my own heart. The only thing that I could think of, or anything that I’ve read that appeals to me, is this: in the latter years of David, he reigned over a great kingdom. The Edomites, the Moabites, the Gileadites, Bashan, all the north country, the south country, Philistia, down to the river of Egypt; the whole part of the world paid tribute to David [1 Kings 4:21], and David was a great and mighty monarch. And in the latter years of his reign, he may have – and this may have been the reason – he may have grown proud, ostentatious, presumptuous, humanly vain in what God had done for him. And instead of glorifying God and remaining humble before the Lord, that God had given victories over all his enemies, that God had exalted him in the earth, instead of that, he began to be proud of it, like Nebuchadnezzar, when he said, "This is the great Babylon that I have built; this is the great empire that I have built. When I was king here it was a few defeated, dissevered warring tribes, and now it’s one great mighty monarchal kingdom. Look what I have done" [Daniel 4:28-30].
And in order to impress the people on every side, why, he numbered them [2 Samuel 24:2; 1 Chronicles 21:2-4], for the vainglory of saying, "What a marvelous kingdom and what a great standing army that I have." We don’t know. There was something in David’s heart that was wrong and that grieved the heart of God that made him do this thing, when he numbered Israel. And we have to leave it there. We don’t know.
And when David’s heart smote him [2 Samuel 24:10], why, he arose on a morning, and there stood Gad, the seer, Gad the prophet of God. And Gad said to David, he said, "Tell me, thus saith the Lord, I offer thee three things; choose one of them, that I may go back and tell Him who sent me what thou hast chosen" [2 Samuel 24:11-13; 1 Chronicles 21:9-12].
So Gad came to David, and said to him, Shall it be seven years of famine come upon thee in the land, seven years? or wilt thou flee before thine enemies three months? or shall there be three days’ pestilence in the land? Now advise, and see what answer I shall return to Him that sent me.
[2 Samuel 24:13]
The first choice, seven years of famine [2 Samuel 24:13]; in the few chapters back, there were three consecutive years of famine in the land, and David had lived through them, and they were indescribably horrible – three years of famine [2 Samuel 21:1]. And now God says, "Shall it be seven years of famine?" people crying for bread, falling in death, starving, emaciated, famine struck, no food, no bread: "Shall it be seven years of famine? Or shalt thou flee before thine enemies three months?" [2 Samuel 24:13].
David had just done that. In the rebellion of Absalom, he’d fled for his life, and there was war and bloodshed and fighting [2 Samuel 15:13]. "Shall it be three months you flee before the enemies? Or shall there be three days pestilence in the land?" And David cried to Gad and said, "I am in a great strait [2 Samuel 24:14]; I do not know what to do. I do not know what to do." What if you had a choice like that? Seven years of starvation, three months of being driven by your enemies and cut down by the sword, or three days of pestilence that waste the people and can decimate, can wipe out a district overnight. And David said, "Let us fall into the hands of God" [2 Samuel 24:14]; maybe God will be merciful; maybe God will be moved in His heart as He sees men, and women, and children, and families dying and dying because of the awful dark plague. So the Lord took the pestilence [2 Samuel 24:15].
And starting up there at Dan, and going down to Beersheba, seventy thousand men died [2 Samuel 24:15]. I don’t know how many children died; don’t know how many families wasted in that plague. It was a terrible thing. And the angel came finally – with that dark and terrible and wasting plague – the angel finally came, the destroying disease came to the golden city of Jerusalem. And David saw him, like a soldier standing with his sword unsheathed, glittering in the sun, to waste the city of the great king. And when David saw him with his sword outstretched to destroy the city, David fell before the Lord, and he said, "O God, it is I that have sinned and have done wickedly; but these people, these sheep, what have they done? I pray Thee, let Thy hand and the sword be against me, and against my father’s house" [2 Samuel 24:16-17]. And while David prayed, prostrate before God, with that angel standing with his sword unsheathed to strike the city of Jerusalem, the word of God came to the prophet Gad, and said, "Go to David; go to David. You will find him on his face, crying and praying and supplicating to God. Go to David, and say, Get up, get up, get up, get up, and go up to Mt. Moriah; and there on the top of the mount, you will find Araunah, who used to be the king of the Jebusites" [2 Samuel 24:18].
You’ll find him there in the property that will remain to him. And he’s threshing on the top of the mount, where the wind could blow through the chaff as it is pitched up in the air, and the wind blow the chaff away, and the grain fall back down to be gathered into the garner. Go to Araunah, there on the top of Mt. Moriah, in the threshing floor, and there build Me an altar, and the plague will be stayed [2 Samuel 24:18-19].
So when Araunah the Jebusite saw the king coming, he bowed himself in obeisance to the ground [2 Samuel 24:20]. And he said, "Wherefore doth the king come to me?" And David said, "To buy the threshing floor, to build an altar here, that the plague may be stayed from the people, that they die not, that they die not" [2 Samuel 24:21]. And Araunah said unto the king, "Oh, my lord! Not for money, not for price, not for cost; I give it to you! The whole mount, it is thine, and here are oxen. I give you them for the sacrifice. And here are threshing instruments, I give you them for the sacrifice at no cost; take them for nothing" [2 Samuel 24:22-23]. And the king said to Araunah, who did it as a king, "Nay, nay, Araunah, nay; I will buy it at a cost; for I will not offer unto God that which cost me nothing" [2 Samuel 24:24].
Oh, once in a while I hear Dr. Fowler pray that in his prayer; pray that in his prayer, "Shall I offer to God the pittance of life, shall I?" A tip for God, all the rest of the affluence, and the fortune, and the wealth, and the things that God has given us – all of them for ourselves – but for God, it shall be a tip; we will fling Him a coin like we would eat the meat and give the dog the bone. So what is left over, and unwanted, and superfluous, we shall offer unto God; something that costs us nothing.
If I have time, I’ll be there. If I’m not busy, I’ll go to church. If I’m not engrossed in something else, if it’s not rainy, if it’s cloudy, if it’s not hot, if it’s not cold, if it’s not dry, if it’s not wet, I’ll be there. Oh, oh!
"I will not offer unto God that which doth cost me nothing. It shall be a part of me, at a sacrifice, and here it is. There are a thousand other things I could do with it, but I give it to God. There are a thousand other places I could be, but put it down, preacher, when the time comes I’ll be in the house of the Lord. I’ll be there; I’ll be there. I’m not offering to God that which doth cost me nothing. But when I come, it’ll be a part of me. And when I give, it will be a part of me," it will cost, it will cost.
So David bought it, and there he built the altar unto the Lord, and he offered offerings and burnt sacrifices. And the Lord was entreated for the plague, and it was stayed [2 Samuel 24:25]. And in the last words of David to Solomon, he said, "My son, my son. . . " [1 Kings 2:1-9], and I haven’t opportunity, nor will I take it tonight, because next Sunday night and the following Sunday nights, we’re going to follow through the life of Solomon, but David said, "My son, the people, the people, like sheep, like sheep, were being slaughtered, were being destroyed; the plague taking them away because of sin, pride, ostentatious vainglory, rejection" [1 Chronicles 21:17].
The human spirit, all of us are alike, all of us are like. It is hard to bow before God, to live in acquiescence, and surrender, and yieldedness to His blessed will. It’s hard. Maybe for a purpose, we don’t know what that thing was by which God was moved in anger against Israel; it was sin, and all of us share in it. And David says to his son Solomon, "Solomon, in the place where atonement was made for sins – in that place, in that place, there where I built the altar to make atonement, and propitiation, and expiation for the sins of people – there build the altar, and there erect the tabernacle" [1 Chronicles 21:28, 22:6]. And it was so that the great altar in that place where Abraham offered up Isaac [Genesis 22:2-10], and in that place where David entreated the Lord that the plague might be stayed, and offered a sacrifice that the sin might be covered over [2 Samuel 24:21-25], there was the lamb offered every morning and every evening until Shiloh came. And when the Lamb of God was offered in sacrifice, it was a part of that Mt. Moriah, just to the left as you face it from the west.
That was the great purpose of God: that our sin might be covered over, that the plague that destroys our lives might be, might be stayed, that all of the wrong and the injury of our soul might be washed away. All of it found its profound, and ultimate, and final meaning in the sacrifice of Christ for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:5-14].
I do not say that when you come it’s at no cost; I’ve never said that. I’ve always said that for a man to be a Christian is a giving up; it’s a giving up. You can’t go two different directions at the same time. You can’t ride two horses going one east and one west. "You cannot love God and mammon; you cannot serve two masters" [Luke 16:13]. You can’t do double for God and for Satan. It’s a choice; it’s a choice. And I’ve always said that the allurements of the world and the proffered rewards of Satan glitter, and they’re bright. But I’ve also always said that,
It pays to serve Jesus, it pays every day;
It pays every step, every step of the way,
Though the pathway to glory may sometimes be hard,
You’ll be happy each step of the way.
["It Pays To Serve Jesus"; Frank c. Huston, 1909]
"Nor will I offer unto my God that which doth cost me nothing" [2 Samuel 24:24].
"Here I come; I give Him my soul, and my life, and my days, and my years, and my destiny, and my forever. O God, in Thy goodness and mercy, wash away the stain of my sin, and make me a child of heaven forever and forever and forever" [Revelation 1:5]. And it’s done. And the great transaction’s done. God is entreated for us, and the plague is stayed, and our sin is covered over, and we’re entreated in the name of the great Savior, the Lord Jesus. We’re entreated for His sake, accepted, forgiven, washed, cleansed, saved and kept forever [Colossians 1:14, 22]. What a sweet and a precious thing the gospel of the good news is to our souls; ours for the having, for the asking, for the taking, for the coming, for the receiving, for the grasping, for the holding, for just the looking.
Would you do that tonight? Somebody you, while we sing our invitation hymn, in the balcony round a family you, or one somebody you, on this lower floor, a youth, a teenager, or a child, while we sing this song and while we make this appeal, giving your heart to Jesus, or coming into the fellowship of our church, down one of these stairways at the front or the back, on this lower floor into the aisle and to the pastor, "I give you my hand; my heart I give to God." As the Spirit shall lead in the way and open the door, make it tonight. "Here I am; here I come." On the first note of that first stanza, "I decide for Jesus; I choose Him, and here I am, here I come," while we stand and while we sing.
THE LAST WORDS OF DAVID
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Samuel 24:17-25
I. Samuel and Kings compared with Chronicles
1. Samuel and Kings original documents
2. Chronicles written based off Samuel and Kings
3. Permissive will of God contrast with Satanic influence
II. Site of the temple
1. Numbering Israel, David’s sin
2. Threshing floor of Araunah
III. Its building – David not allowed to build it
IV. Its pattern