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Bible Commentaries
1 Chronicles 21

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



David numbereth the people, 1 Chronicles 20:1-6.

He repenteth of three judgments propounded, he chooseth the pestilence; and why, 1 Chronicles 21:7-13. David, by Gad’s direction, buildeth an altar, and sacrificeth: the plague is stayed, 1 Chronicles 21:14-30.

Verse 1

Satan stood up, Heb. stood, to wit, before the Lord and his tribunal to accuse David and Israel, and to beg God’s permission to tempt David to number the people. Standing is the accuser’s posture before men’s tribunals; and consequently the Holy Scripture (which useth to speak of God, and of the things of God, after the manner of men, to bring them down to our capacities) elsewhere represents Satan in this posture, as 1 Kings 22:21; Zechariah 3:1. And so this agrees with 2 Samuel 24:1, where the Lord is said to move David, i.e. to give Satan commission or permission to move him; for otherwise God tempteth no man, James 1:13. But of this, and of this whole chapter, and of the variations and seeming contradictions between this narrative and that in Samuel, see my notes on 2 Samuel 24:0.

Verse 3

Or, why will he be, or why should this be, a trespass, or a cause of trespass, or an occasion of punishment, (for Hebrew words signifying sin are oft used to note the punishment of sin,) or a desolation, or a cause of desolation or destruction, (for the verb whence this noun proceeds is oft used in that sense,) to or against Israel? Why wilt thou provoke God by this sin to punish Israel? Thus he speaks, because God commonly punisheth the people for the sins of their rulers, because they are for the most part guilty of their sins in one kind or other; or at least God takes this occasion to punish people for all their sins.

Verse 6

Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them; partly for the following reason, and principally by God’s special and gracious providence to these two tribes; to Levi, because they were devoted to his service; and to Benjamin, because they were the least of all the tribes, having been almost extinct, Judges 21:0, and because God foresaw that they would be faithful to the house of David in the division of the tribes, and therefore he would not have them diminished. And Joab presumed to leave these two tribes unnumbered, because he had specious pretences for it; for Levi, because they were no warriors, and the king’s command reached only to those that drew sword, as appears from 1 Chronicles 21:5; and for Benjamin, because they, being so small a tribe, and bordering upon Jerusalem their chief city, might easily be numbered afterward.

Verse 7

God was displeased with this thing; because this was done without any colour of necessity, and out of mere curiosity, and ostentation, and carnal confidence, as David’s own conscience told him, which therefore smote him, as it is related, 2 Samuel 24:10.

Therefore he smote Israel; which is particularly related in the following verses.

Verse 16

In sackcloth, i.e. in mourning garments, humbling themselves before God for their sins, and deprecating his wrath against the people.

Verse 20


And Ornan turned back, ( i.e. turned his face from the angel,) for, or when, (for the Hebrew vau is frequently used both those ways,)

he saw the angel and (so did) his four sons with him hiding themselves; partly because of the glory and majesty in which the angel appeared, which men’s weak and sinful natures are not able to bear; and partly from the fear of God’s vengeance, which was at this time riding circuit in the land, and now seemed to be coming to their family.

Verse 26

From heaven by fire, Heb. by fire sent

from heaven; which was the sign of God’s acceptance. See Leviticus 9:24; 1 Kings 18:24,1 Kings 18:38; 2 Chronicles 7:1.

Verse 28

When he perceived that his sacrifice there offered was acceptable to God, he proceeded to offer more sacrifices in that place, and did not go to Gibeon, as otherwise he should have done.

Verse 30

David could not, i.e. durst not. Before it, i.e. before the tabernacle, where the altar stood.

To inquire of God, Heb. to seek God, i.e. humbly to beg his favour by prayer and sacrifice.

Because of the sword of the angel of the Lord, i.e. when he saw the angel stand with his drawn sword over Jerusalem, as is related above, 1 Chronicles 21:15,1 Chronicles 21:16, he durst not go away thence to Gibeon, lest the angel in the mean time should destroy Jerusalem; for the prevention whereof he thought it most proper to continue to worship God in that place, which he had consecrated by his special presence and gracious acceptance.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 21". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/1-chronicles-21.html. 1685.
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