Verse 1 – The census itself was not an infraction of God’s law (Numbers 1:2; 26:2). David succumbed to the sin of pride. The law stipulated that each man who was counted had to donate a half-shekel to the temple treasury (Exodus 30:11-16). God had decreed that a census taken without these provisions would be punished by a plague.
There is a fine line between feeling confident because you rely on God’s power and becoming proud because you have been used by God for a great purpose. Evan Joab realized the census was wrong. Often our motives, not the action itself, contain the sin.
Verse 6 – Joab refused to include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin. Perhaps he did not want God’s judgment to fall on the tribe of priest or the tribe in whose territory the tabernacle stood.
Verse 8 – Evan before the effects of the punishment were apparent, David realized he had done wrong; he pleaded with God to forgive him.
Verses 9-13 – Gad and Nathan were the two prophets associated with David. Both of them had the unpleasant duty of announcing divine punishment on the king they served (2 Samuel 12:7). Gad presented David with three options for punishment: (1) three years of famine, (2) three months of devastation by his enemies, or (3) three days of…plague on the land. David chose the plague.
Verses 13, 14 – Sin has a domino effect; once a sin is committed, a series of consequences follows. (The consequences of that sin have already been set in motion.) David plead for mercy and God responded by stopping the angel before his mission of death was complete.
David had wanted to know how many men he had at his disposal. By divine retribution he wound up with 70,000 fewer than he had before the census was taken.
Verses 15-17 – This angel was fully visible, hovering above the threshing floor of Ornan. David and the elders of Israel saw the angel floating in a menacing posture with his sword…stretched out.
Verses 20-24 – Ornan and his four sons received two shocks: they saw the hovering angel, and the king himself showed up on their property. David asked Ornan to sell him this location at full price because he was afraid the Lord wouldn’t stop the plague if he didn’t pay the full price.
Verses 26, 27 – The angel apparently continued to hover over while the sacrifice was being prepared. God sent fire from heaven to show acceptance. Then the angel stopped threatening Jerusalem.