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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
1 Chronicles 21



Verse 1

David Numbers the People - The Lord had given the nation of Israel the procedures for numbering the population in the book of Exodus ( Exodus 30:11-16). Each man was to offer half a shekel unto the Lord in order to make an atonement for his soul so that a plague does not break out among them. In this way, the Lord would recognize each person counted. Since David does not perform this census properly, he caused a plague to break forth among the people.

Exodus 30:11-16, "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls."

Verses 1-30

1 Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

1 Chronicles 21:1Word Study on "Satan" - The Hebrew word "Satan" ( שָׂטָן) (H 7854), which literally means "adversary," (Gesenius) is used as a proper name in only three stories in the entire Old Testament ( 1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6-7; Job 1:9; Job 1:12; Job 2:1-4; Job 2:6-7, Zechariah 3:1).

1 Chronicles 21:1Comments- The parallel verse to 1 Chronicles 21:1 is found in 2 Samuel 24:1, which reads differently, "And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah." In the book of Chronicles it was Satan ( שָׂטָן), and not the Lord, who caused David to number the people. In an effort to reconcile these different statements, Sailhamer notes that each time God was angry with Israel, He gave over to their enemies. He goes on to explain that when King Solomon was obeying the Lord, God gave him rest from all of his adversaries, "…so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent." ( 1 Kings 5:4). Later, when Solomon sinned, "the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Song of Solomon , Hadad the Edomite," ( 1 Kings 11:14) and "God stirred him up another adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah," ( 1 Kings 11:23), and "he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon." ( 1 Kings 11:25) In these four verses, the same Hebrew word, "satan" ( שָׂטָן), is used, as in 1 Chronicles 21:1. Sailhamer notes that the word ( שָׂטָן) is also used in a similar context in 1 Samuel 29:4. Thus, based upon this recurring motive in the historical books, he reconciles these two different statements by interpreting 1 Chronicles 21:1 to mean that David's enemies rose up with threats to invade Israel because of his disobedience to God. 27]

27] John H. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c 1995), 305.

1 Kings 5:4, "But now the LORD my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent."

1 Chronicles 21:1Comments- Note Satan's timing. Israel was victorious against evil countries everywhere, which were under Satan's control ( 1 John 5:19). When God begins working mightily, Satan gets stirred up, like we seen in the book of the Acts when persecutions come against the New Testament church.

1 John 5:19, "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."

1 Chronicles 21:12 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 of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

1 Chronicles 21:12 — "three years" - Comments- The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 24:13 says, "seven years."

2 Samuel 24:13, "So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days" pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me."

A look at the Hebrew words:

2 Samuel 24:13 - Hebrew ( שֶׁבַע) (H 7651) "seven"

1 Chronicles 21:12 - Hebrew ( שְׁלשָׁה) (H 7969) "three"

1 Chronicles 21:24 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.

1 Chronicles 21:24Comments- Abraham was also willing to pay the full price for a piece of land ( Genesis 23:1-20).

1 Chronicles 21:25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

1 Chronicles 21:25Comments- The parallel passage in 2 Samuel 24:24 says that David paid fifty shekels of silver for the threshing floor of Araunah and the oxen.

2 Samuel 24:24, "And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver."

1 Chronicles 21:26 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.

1 Chronicles 21:26Comments- This fire also came down and consumed the sacrifice of Moses at the dedication of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Leviticus 9:24, "And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces."

The angel accepted the sacrifice of Manoah, the father of Samson by consuming it with fire.

Judges 13:19, "So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground."

A fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice of King David at the threshing floor of Ornan.

1 Chronicles 21:26, "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."

A fire also came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice of King Solomon at the dedication of the temple.

2 Chronicles 7:1, "Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house."

Fire also consumed the sacrifice of Elijah on Mount Carmel.

1 Kings 18:38, "Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench."

In addition, during the time of Moses, God consumed the children of Israel with fire as a form of judgment ( Numbers 11:1-2; Numbers 16:35).

1 Chronicles 21:27 And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

1 Chronicles 21:27Comments- Note that God did not stay the plague nor halt his angel until blood was shed.


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Chronicles 21:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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