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This chapter represents David in a very different point of view from the former. There we beheld him most lovely in his humbleness before the Lord. In this, in a state of transgression, numbering his people. Here is an account also, of God's visitation and David's punishment.
1 Chronicles 21:1
This memorable - transaction of the numbering of Israel, is recorded both in this place and in the 24th chapter of the 2d Book of Samuel. And the accounts given in both, serve to throw light upon each other. In the account given in the Book of Samuel, it is said, that the anger of the Lord being kindled against Israel, he moved David against them. In this verse the matter is explained. It was not the Lord that moved David, but Satan, that is, the, adversary - the tempter. James, the apostle, throws the best light upon this subject. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust. James 1:13-14 . The sense is, that the enemy, taking advantage of God's displeasure at that time against Israel, moved David to the dreadful sin of distrusting God, in counting the number of Israel; not considering that God saveth not by many or by few.
Numbering the people, if it had been done with an eye of thankfulness to God for the increase of Israel, would have been attended with a blessing, and not a curse. But as it arose out of mistrust, it arose from unbelief and sin. Reader! see what a deadly sin unbelief, and a distrust of divine strength is.
Joab seems to have had a serious thought, that the motive in the mind of David was not right.
There is a difference in the account here given, from that of 2 Samuel 24:9 . Perhaps Levi and Benjamin might not be numbered in the one as in the other.
I refer the Reader to the account as given in the book of Samuel, as also to the Commentary upon it. The relation of this transaction is so similar, that I do not think it necessary to swell the subject. But I beg again and again to repeat, and to enforce it, as much as the outward ministry of the word can accomplish this point, that the Reader will look over the historical part to discover the spiritual. Evidently the fall of our corrupt nature is set forth in this representation. And, no doubt, to make way for that important and most interesting of all doctrines, redemption by Jesus. The burnt-offerings and peace-offerings offered up on the very memorable spot, where afterwards the Lord Jesus Christ offered his soul an offering for sin, most plainly shows how, all along, the Holy Ghost had an eye to this, and accepted the sinner in the complete salvation of the Saviour: and that all the law ministered to the good things to come, to keep up the constant remembrance in the church, that without shedding of blood there is no remission.
READERS let us pause over this chapter to remark what a vast difference we behold in David, from what the former chapter represents him! Is this David, who so enjoyed the gracious manifestations of the Lord, and found his whole heart going forth in praise, and prayer, and faith, and love! And now through distrust numbering his men, as if he had no longer confidence in the Lord, and was looking to an arm of flesh! But, Reader! what is man, even the best of men, if but for a moment left to himself?
Precious Jesus! cause me to learn, from this renewed instance before my eyes, what a poor creature is man in his highest attainments, and how needful thy blood and righteousness are, through the whole and every part of our pilgrimage, to cleanse the conscience and to justify the soul. Reader, learn from it your daily need of Jesus! See whether you are thus corning to Christ daily, hourly, to gather pardon, grace, and strength for every emergency. Depend upon it, if you have lost a sense of that powerful impression, which you felt when you first came to Jesus a poor, needy, helpless sinner, it is not because you have less need of him, but because you have relaxed in your attention to your own wants, and the Redeemer's fulness to supply. Oh, Sir! see that you make him what he really is, and must be, to his people, when rightly used and improved, as well the Finisher, as the Author of our faith; the End as well as the Beginning. Many set out upon a full conviction of their need of Jesus, but after awhile are turning in to somewhat of their own by way of confidence. Pray God, that you and I may not so learn Christ. But may the Lord give us grace to make him the whole of our hopes, for there is salvation in no other. As you have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk you in him. Let every grace be acted upon him, and everything will then tend to show our increasing need of him, until we arrive to this blessed issue, to know him, to be made of God to us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that he that glorieth may glory in the Lord.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 21". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13