1 Chronicles 21

David was tempted and took a census of men capable of fighting
Parallel passage, 2sa24.
.1 ¶ And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
.2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
 3 And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
  1 - Satan stood up against Israel The Holy Spirit who inspired David provides an important insight. In getting David to sin, all Israel will be cursed. Our sin affects many others. But on the brighter side, our victory is a blessing as it inspires others. We also see something about the nature of temptation.
  1 - Provoked David In the parallel passage, we see that God was angry and influenced David to do this. Both are true. God may be said to cause that which He permits jb0112. The evil that is unleashed by disobedience leads to suffering which we may see as sent by God ro0118, ro0124ff. Of course God is also proactive in punishment is1311, is2821, re2009.
  1 - To number Israel This was more than gathering information. It was an order for the men found to be ready to fight.
  2 - David said to Joab This choice to use the military (Joab was commander) could override the wishes of the people. God had a different method nu0102ff, nu2601.
  3 - Joab answered We might have expected Joab to be pleased to have so great of an army under his command. However, he was wiser than David.
 4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
.5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
.6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.
  4 - Departed The other account provides more detail 2sa2405.
  6 - King's word ... abominable Levi was never to have been asked to fight nu0147. Eliminating Benjamin may have been to avoid their opposition.
.7 ¶ And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. 
 8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
  7 - God was displeased The parallel account notes that David's conscience bothered him 2sa2410.
.9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying,
 10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. 
 11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee 
  10 - Tell David ... I offer three things. Strong but appropriate punishment. 
  11 - Choose thee He didn't choose one of these but pled for the mercy of God v13.
12 Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts [borders] of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
.13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. 
.14 So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
  12 - Three years' famine As described in 2sa2413.
  13 - Let me fall ... I, too, would have a hard time making a decision.
  14 - Lord sent pestilence The large number of those who died may be understood by the fact that the army had assumed the same pride as did the king. 2sa2401.
 15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
.16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
.17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
  "The scourge had not yet entered the capital, when 'David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the Lord stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.' The king pleaded with God in behalf of Israel: 'Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let Thine hand, I pray Thee, O Lord my God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not on Thy people, that they should be plagued.' The taking of the census had caused disaffection among the people; yet they had themselves cherished the same sins that prompted David's action. As the Lord through Absalom's sin visited judgment upon David, so through David's error He punished the sins of Israel. The destroying angel had stayed his course outside Jerusalem. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 748.)
  16 - Angel ... sword drawn As in the case of Balaam nu2223, nu2234. See 2sa2416.
  16 -Repented This is not a confession of sin but a change. See ge0606, ex3214.
  17 - Is it not I? David admitted that he was responsible for the terrible calamity. God forgave him and stopped the plague.
.18 ¶ Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
 19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD.
 20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
  18 - Angel ...  gave a message to Gad for David. An altar is built as described in the rest of this chapter. "The order about the erection of an altar, as well as the indication of its site, is described (2Sa 24:18) as brought directly by Gad. Here we are informed of the quarter whence the prophet got his commission. It is only in the later stages of Israel's history that we find angels employed in communicating the divine will to the prophets." (JFB)
  18 - Ornan Spelled differently in 2sa2418.
  18 - Thresshingfloor This was Mount Moriah where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice Isaac ge22. The temple would later be built here.
 21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.
 22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people. 
 23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.
  22 - Grant me the place Ornan asked David why he had come and David asked to buy the threshing floor 2sa2421.
  23 - Oxen also ... I give it all The Lord impresses faithful people. The plague was stopped.
.24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
 25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
 26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.
  24 - Full price An important example for us. In responding to the Lord's requirements, it is unsafe to respond with selfish reservations.
  25 - Six hundred shekels of gold He appeared to pay less according to the account in 2sa2424.
.27 And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.
 28 At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.
  27 - Put up his sword The resolution of the reason the Lord arranged to send the lesson to David and his people 2sa2418.
.29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.
 30 But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.
  29 - Tabernacle See the history of its movement at 1ch0632.
  29 - High place Usually the term indicates a site of heathen worship but we see here how true worship was also in high places (like tops of hills).
Chronicles home
Commentary home