The resemblance to the parallel passage in Samuel is throughout less close than usual; the additions are more numerous, the supernatural circumstances of the narrative being brought out into greater prominence. The history is evidently not drawn from Samuel, but from some quite separate document, probably a contemporary account of the occurrence drawn up by Gad.
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.As the books of Scripture are arranged in our Version, Satan is here for the first time by name introduced to us. He appears not merely as an "adversary" who seeks to injure man from without, but as a Tempter able to ruin him by suggesting sinful acts and thoughts from within. In this point of view, the revelation made of him here is the most advanced that we find in the Old Testament.
The difficulty in reconciling the statement here, "Satan provoked David," etc. with that of Samuel, "the Lord moved David," etc. 2 Samuel 24:1 is not serious. All temptation is permitted by God. When evil spirits tempt us, they do so by permission (Job 1:12; Job 2:6; Luke 22:31, etc.). If Satan therefore provoked David to number the peopIe, God allowed him. And what God allows, He may be said to do. (Another view is maintained in the 2 Samuel 24:1 note).
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.
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?
Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
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.In 2 Samuel 24:9 the numbers are different. The explanation there given is not so generally accepted as the supposition that the numbers have, in one passage or the other (or possibly in both), suffered corruption.
But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.To omit the Levites would be to follow the precedent recorded in Numbers 1:47-49. The omission of Benjamin must he ascribed to a determination on the part of Joab to frustrate the king's intention, whereby he might hope to avert God's wrath from the people.
And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
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.
And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying,
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.
So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee
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 of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.And the angel of the Lord destroying ... - These words are not in Samuel, which puts the third alternative briefly. They prepare the way for the angelic appearance 1 Chronicles 21:16, on which the author is about to lay so much stress.
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.
So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
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.
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.Here a picture of awful grandeur takes the place of the bare statement of the earlier historian 2 Samuel 24:17. And here, as elsewhere, the author probably extracts from the ancient documents such circumstances as harmonize with his general plan. As the sanctity of the temple was among the points whereon he was most anxious to lay stress, he gives in full all the miraculous circumstances attending this first designation of what became the temple site (marginal reference "k") as a place "holy to the Lord."
David and the elders ... clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces - Facts additional to the narrative of Samuel; But facts natural in themselves, and in harmony with that narrative. Similarly, the narrative in 1 Chronicles 21:20 is additional to the account in Samuel; but its parts hang together; and there is no sufficient ground for suspecting it.
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.
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.It has been observed that it is only in books of a late period that Angels are brought forward as intermediaries between God and the prophets. This, no doubt, is true; and it is certainly unlikely that the records, from which the author of Chronicles drew, spoke of Gad as receiving his knowledge of God's will from an angel. The touch may be regarded as coming from the writer of Chronicles himself, who expresses the fact related by his authorities in the language of his own day (see Zechariah 1:9, Zechariah 1:14, Zechariah 1:19; Zechariah 2:3; Zechariah 4:1; Zechariah 5:5; etc.); language, however, which we are not to regard as rhetorical, but as strictly in accordance with truth, since Angels were doubtless employed as media between God and the prophet as much in the time of David as in that of Zechariah.
And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD.
And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.Compare the marginal reference and note. It may also be conjectured that we should read "six" for "six hundred" here; since, according to the later Jewish system, six gold shekels were nearly equal in value to fifty silver ones.
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.He answered him from heaven by fire - This fact is not mentioned by the author of Samuel, since his object is to give an account of the sin of David, its punishment, and the circumstances by which that punishment was brought to a close, not to connect those circumstances with anything further in the history. With the writer of Chronicles the case is different. He would probably have omitted the whole narrative, as he did the sin of David in the matter of Uriah, but for its connection with the fixing of the temple site 1 Chronicles 22. It was no doubt mainly the fact that God answered him by fire from heaven on this altar, which determined David, and Solomon after him, to build the temple on the spot so consecrated.
And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.
At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.
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.
But David could not go before it to inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.David, knowing that by sacrifice on this altar he had caused the angel to stay his hand, was afraid to transfer his offerings elsewhere, lest the Angel should resume his task and pestilence again break out.