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Bible Study Questions

Avoiding Horrible Failure

2 Samuel 24:1-25

Paul J. Bucknell

2 Samuel 23-24 Success and Failure
2 Samuel 23:1-7 | 23:8- 39 | 2 Samuel 23 Bible Study
2 Samuel 24:1-9 | 24:10-15 | 24:16-25 | 2 Samuel 24 Bible Study
2 Samuel 23-24 Video | Audio Podcast


Purpose: 2 Samuel 24 Bible Study Questions helps us understand the horror of insisting on making wrong decisions and yet at the same time reminds us how to seek and find God’s great mercy in those times of judgment.

Check out out Digital Old Testament Library for a huge collection of resources on 1 Samuel and all of the Old Testament!Check out our Digital Old Testament Library for a huge collection of resources on 1 Samuel and all of the Old Testament!


The mention of Uriah (23:39) highlights David’s personal failure and sets the setting for 2 Samuel 24 where David’s failure to His people is revealed. David’s failure before Uriah had an impact on his family and name, but this reproach before God affected tens of thousands of families across Israel. Seventy-thousand Israelites died.

Our Life Test

1) Taking a Census (2 Samuel 24:1-9)

“1 Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 And the king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.” 3 But Joab said to the king, “Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” 4 Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king, to register the people of Israel....

8 So when they had gone about through the whole land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. 9 And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. 10 Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So 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.” (2 Samuel 24:1-10).

  1. The Lord’s anger again focused on Israel (24:1). Why does he say ‘again‘. Briefly examine 2 Samuel 21 to observe one other case where the Lord was very angry.

  2. Who incited David to number Israel (24:1)? Refer also to 1 Chronicles 21:1.

  3. Does Satan’s tactics surprise you? Why not?

  4. What is it that David requested his general Joab to oversee (24:2)?

  5. How did Joab respond (24:3)? Why?

  6. What was the final result of the dispute (24:4)?

  7. Do you think David was prideful? How do you know (24:10)?

  8. Reflection: What success have you recently gone through in your life? Do you tend to respond with extra thankfulness and devotion or find yourself forgetting the Lord?

  9. Reflection: Do you think it was Satan’s fault that David sinned? Why didn’t the Lord punish Satan instead of Israel? How would you caution someone about pride? How successful do you think you might be?

2) The Fear of God ( 2 Samuel 24:10-15)

“10 Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So 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.” 11 When David arose in the morning, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, 12 “Go and speak to David, ‘Thus the LORD says, “I am offering you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I may do to you.”’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ pestilence in your land? Now consider and see what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 15 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.” (2 Samuel 24:10-15).

  1. How did David respond to the results of the census (24:10)? Why do you think he did at that point?

  2. How did David’s response to his sin differ from his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12)?

  3. What three consequences did Gad, on behalf of God, offer David (24:12-13)?

  4. Which one would you have chosen? Which did David choose? Why (24:14)?

  5. Did God only threaten David or did He carry out the judgment (24:15)?

  6. Reflection: Is there some unconfessed sin in your life? Better to deal with it now and seek God’s mercy rather than having God’s judgment fall without mercy.

  7. Reflection: Do you think a parent should just threaten the child but not carry out the chastisement? Why or why not?

3) God’s Mercy (2 Samuel 24:16-25)

“16 When the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD relented from the calamity, and said to the angel who destroyed the people, “It is enough! Now relax your hand!” And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the LORD when he saw the angel who was striking down the people, and said, “Behold, it is I who have sinned, and it is I who have done wrong; but these sheep, what have they done? Please let Thy hand be against me and against my father’s house.” (2 Samuel 24:16-17).

  1. What was the angel doing (24:16)? What can we learn from this?

  2. What is it that God revealed to David (24:17)? Why do you think God showed this to David?

  3. What was David’s response to what he saw (24:17)? Was this the proper response? Why or why not?

  4. What did Gad tell David to do (24:18)? Did David do it (19)?

  5. Did David accept Araunah’s offer for the land and sacrifice (24:21-24)? Was that good or bad? Why?

  6. God’s mercy is seen when the plague stopped (the whole nation could have perished). When was the plague held back (24:25)?

  7. Reflection: What does this instruct us about prayer during difficult times?

  8. Where was the location of David’s altar and sacrifice (2 Chronicles 3:1)?

  9. What else happened on that spot (Genesis 22:2)? What happened at that same spot two thousand years after that incident in Genesis? (Clue: Not David’s sacrifice as that was around 1000 BC).

Summary Application Questions

  1. Pride by its nature interferes with God’s will. Why?

  2. Share an example where pride caused you to make a wrong decision? How long did it take you to confess it or have you still not confessed it?

  3. Some people think evil of God’s judgment. Actually, judgment protects and upholds justice. Imagine a world without justice! God never stops judgment. Justice must be met (think of the second coming). But God will express His love and mercy without violating that needed justice. How did God do that here? How did He do it with Jesus and those who believe in Him?

Next -> Read, view or listen to the study on True Genuine Success on 2 Samuel 23.