2 Samuel 24:1
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
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(1) Kindled against Israel.—This was not in consequence of the numbering of the people, but in consequence of that which ultimately led to that act. We are not told why the anger of the Lord was kindled, but doubtless because He saw both in king and people that rising spirit of earthly pride and reliance on earthly strength which led to the sin.

He moved.—The pronoun here stands for “the Lord,” yet in 1Chronicles 21:1, the temptation is attributed to Satan, and Satan is clearly meant of the devil, and not simply of “an adversary.” This is a striking instance of attributing directly to God whatever comes about under His permission. And yet it is more than that. God has established immutable spiritual as well as material laws, or rather those laws themselves are but the expression of His unchanging will. Whatever comes about under the operation of those laws is said to be His doing. Now David’s numbering the people was the natural consequence of the condition of worldliness and pride into which he had allowed himself to fall. God then moved him, because He had from the first so ordered the laws of the spirit that such a sinful act should be the natural outcome of such a sinful state. Of other interpretations: that which makes the verb impersonal—“one moved”—is hardly tenable grammatically; and that which makes the nominative a sort of compound word—“the wrath of the Lord” (as in some of the ancient versions)—leads to substantially the same explanation as that given above.

The word “number” in this verse is a different one from that used in the rest of the chapter, and means simply to count, while the other conveys the idea of a military muster.

2 Samuel 24:1. And again — After the former tokens of his anger, such as the three years’ famine, mentioned chap. 21. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel — For their sins, and on account of the following action of David. The anger of the Lord, it must be well observed, was not the cause of David’s sin, nor of the sins of the people; for God cannot be the author of sin; but David’s sin and the sins of Israel were the cause of God’s anger. And he moved David against them — The reader must observe that, as there is no nominative case before the verb here, in the original, to express who moved David, the most strict rendering of the clause would be, There was who moved David against them, &c. By our version, the reader is led to suppose that the Lord, mentioned in the foregoing part of the sentence, moved David to commit this sin of numbering the people. But this is not only quite contrary to the nature and attributes of God, but to what we are expressly told 1 Chronicles 21:1, where we learn that it was Satan, and not the Lord, that moved David to do this. Here then we have a very remarkable instance, which cannot be too much regarded, to warn us against building any particular doctrine, or belief, on certain particular, detached expressions or passages of Scripture, not in harmony with the general tenor of God’s oracles; especially such doctrines as are entirely opposite to the essential nature or attributes of God. For had not this fact of David’s numbering the people been related, through the care of divine providence, by another sacred writer, who entirely clears God from having any concern in moving David to sin, it might have been concluded from the passage before us that God impelled David to this act; and, consequently, that it is consistent with the nature and government of God to excite the human mind to sinful acts: than which there can scarce be any thing more impious imagined. And therefore we may plainly see from hence, that we are not to form our notions from particular passages or expressions of the Holy Scriptures, but from the general tenor of them.

24:1-9 For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and in his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws light upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a useful lesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable, trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and though he had written so much of trusting in God only. God judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious. But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel - This sentence is the heading of the whole chapter, which goes on to describe the sin which kindled this anger, namely, the numbering of the people 1 Chronicles 21:7-8; 1 Chronicles 27:24. There is no note of time, except that the word "again" shows that these events happened "after" those of 2 Samuel 21. (Compare also 2 Samuel 24:25; 2 Samuel 21:14.)

And he moved David - In 1 Chronicles 21:1 the statement is, "and an adversary" (not "Satan," as the King James Version, since there is no article prefixed, as in Job 1:6; Job 2:1, etc.) "stood up against Israel and moved David," just as 1 Kings 11:14, 1 Kings 11:23, 1 Kings 11:25 first Hadad, and then Rezon, is said to have been "an adversary" (Satan) to Solomon and to Israel. Hence, our text should be rendered, "For one moved David against them." We are not told whose advice it was, but some one, who proved himself an enemy to the best interests of David and Israel, urged the king to number the people.


2Sa 24:1-9. David Numbers the People.

1-4. again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah—"Again" carries us back to the former tokens of His wrath in the three years' famine [2Sa 21:1]. God, though He cannot tempt any man (Jas 1:13), is frequently described in Scripture as doing what He merely permits to be done; and so, in this case, He permitted Satan to tempt David. Satan was the active mover, while God only withdrew His supporting grace, and the great tempter prevailed against the king. (See Ex 7:13; 1Sa 26:19; 2Sa 16:10; Ps 105:25; Isa 7:17, &c.). The order was given to Joab, who, though not generally restrained by religious scruples, did not fail to present, in strong terms (see on [279]1Ch 21:3), the sin and danger of this measure. He used every argument to dissuade the king from his purpose. The sacred history has not mentioned the objections which he and other distinguished officers urged against it in the council of David. But it expressly states that they were all overruled by the inflexible resolution of the king.David, tempted by Satan, forceth Joab to number the people; who are thirteen hundred thousand fighting men, 2 Samuel 24:1-9. David acknowledgeth his sin in it: having three judgments propounded by God, he is in great distress, and chooseth the pestilence; of which seventy thousand men die, 2 Samuel 24:10-15. David by his humiliation preventeth the destruction of Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 24:16,17. He by Gad’s direction and order from God purchaseth Araunah’s threshing-floor to build an altar there; on which having sacrificed, the plague stayeth, 2 Samuel 24:18-25.

Again, to wit, after the former tokens of his anger, such as the three years’ famine, 2Sa 21.

He moved David he: who? Either,

1. Satan, as is expressed, 1 Chronicles 21:1. Or,

2. God; who is said, in like manner, to stir up Saul against David, 1 Samuel 26:19, and to turn the hearts of the Egyptians to hate his people, Psalm 105:25, and to make men to err from his ways, Isaiah 63:17, and to send strong delusions, &c., and to harden their hearts. All which expressions are not so to be understood, as if God did work these sinful dispositions; which neither was necessary, because they are naturally in every man’s heart, nor possible for the holy God to do; but because he permits them, and withdraws his grace and all restraints and hinderances from them, and giveth occasions and advantages to them; and directs their thoughts to such objects as may indeed be innocently thought of, which yet he knows they will wickedly abuse; and give them up to Satan, who he knows will deceive and entice them to such and such sins; which, being tempted to do by Satan, and being effected by their own wicked hearts, he so orders and overrules, that they shall be punishments for their former sins. Against them, i.e. for Israel’s punishment. To say, or, saying. For this may be referred, either,

1. To God, of whom the same expression is used 2 Samuel 16:10, The Lord said to Shimei, Curse David; which in both places is not to be understood of any command or impulse of God, but of his secret providence disposing things in manner here above expressed. Or,

2. To David; he moved David to say, to wit, to Joab, as he did, 2 Samuel 24:2.

And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel,.... It had been kindled, and appeared before in sending a three years' famine among them for Saul's ill usage of the Gibeonites, 2 Samuel 21:1; and now it broke forth again, either for some secret sins committed, as Kimchi suggests, or for the rebellion of Absalom, and the insurrection of Sheba, in which multitudes of them joined; so Abarbinel; no doubt there was cause for it, though it is not expressed:

and he moved David against them; not the Lord, but Satan, as may be supplied from 1 Chronicles 21:1; or "it moved him"; the anger of the Lord, as the last mentioned writer interprets it; or the heart of David, as Ben Gersom; that is, the evil imagination of his heart, as Kimchi; the Lord left him to the corruption of his nature, sometimes called Satan, 2 Corinthians 12:7; which wrought powerfully in him, and stirred him up to take a step contrary to the interest of Israel, and what was prejudicial to them, as the event showed: it moved him to say; to Joab and his captains:

go, number Israel and Judah: not all the individuals, but such as were fit for war, able to bear arms, see 2 Samuel 24:9.

And {a} again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and {b} he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

(a) Before they were plagued with famine, 2Sa 21:1.

(b) The Lord permitted Satan, as in 1Ch 21:2.

1–9. The Numbering of the People

1. again] The previous manifestation of God’s anger referred to was the famine (ch. 21). It is possible that the two narratives stood in close juxtaposition in the original document used by the compiler.

and he moved David against them] The subject of the verb is Jehovah. The nation had sinned and incurred His anger, and He instigated David to an act which brought down a sharp punishment on the nation. The statement that God incited David to do what was afterwards condemned and punished as a heinous sin cannot of course mean that He compelled David to sin, but that in order to test and prove his character He allowed the temptation to assault him. Thus while we read that “God himself tempteth no man” (James 1:13), we are taught to pray “Bring us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). In 1 Chronicles 21:1 we read “Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” The older record speaks only of God’s permissive action: the latter tells us of the malicious instrumentality of Satan. The case is like that of Job (Job 1:12; Job 2:10).

Go, number] Go, count; a different word from that translated number in the rest of the chapter, for the meaning of which see note on ch. 2 Samuel 18:1.

Israel and Judah] The designation of the people as Israel and Judah seems to have been in use even before the Division of the Kingdoms. In the next verse Israel includes the whole nation. See Introd. p. 13.

2 Samuel 24:1"Again the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Israel; and He moved David against them, saying, Go, number Israel and Judah." לחרות ... ויּסף points back to the manifestation of the wrath of God, which Israel had experienced in the three years' famine (2 Samuel 21). Just as that plague had burst upon the land on account of the guilt which rested upon the people, so the kindling of the wrath of God against Israel a second time also presupposes guilt on the part of the nation; and as this is not expressly pointed out, we may seek for it generally in the rebellions of Absalom and Sheba against the divinely established government of David. The subject to "moved" is Jehovah, and the words "against them" point back to Israel. Jehovah instigated David against Israel to the performance of an act which brought down a severe judgment upon the nation. With regard to the idea that God instigates to sin, see the remarks on 1 Samuel 26:19. In the parallel text of the Chronicles, Satan is mentioned as the tempter to evil, through whom Jehovah had David to number the people.
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