21:1 And a Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
(a) He tempted David, in setting before his eyes his excellency and glory, his power and victories, see ( 2 Samuel 24:1 ). 21:2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from b Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know [it].
(b) That is, from south to north. 21:3 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 lords servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of c trespass to Israel?
(c) It was a thing indifferent and usual to number the people, but because he did it for ambitious reasons, as though his strength stood in his people, God punished him. 21:5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all [they of] Israel were d a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah [was] e four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.
(d) Joab partly for grief and partly through negligence gathered not the whole sum as it is here declared. 21:15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and f as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he g 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.
(e) In Samuel 30,000 more are mentioned, which was either by joining to them some of the Benjamites who were mixed with Judah, or as the Hebrews write, here the chief and princes are left out.
(f) Read ( 2 Samuel 24:16 ). 21:17 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 fathers house; but not on h thy people, that they should be plagued.
(g) When God draws back his plagues, he seems to repent, read ( Genesis 6:6 ).
(h) Thus he both shows a true repentance and a fatherly care toward his people, who desire God to spare them, and to punish him and his. 21:20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him i hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.
(i) If man hides himself at the sight of an angel who is a creature, how much more as a sinner able to appear before the face of God? 21:22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of [this] threshingfloor, that I may build an k altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
(k) This he did by the command of God, ( 1 Chronicles 21:18 ), or else it would have been abominable, unless he had either Gods word, or revelation. 21:24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full l price: for I will not take [that] which [is] thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.
(l) That is, as much as it is worth: for having enough of his own, and yet to have taken of another mans goods to offer to the Lord would had been theft and not acceptable to God. 21:25 So David gave to Ornan for the place m six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
(m) Read ( 2 Samuel 24:24 ). 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 n answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.
(n) God declared that he heard his request, in that he sent down fire from heaven for they could use no fire in sacrifice but that which was reserved still upon the altar, ( Leviticus 6:13 ) and came down from heaven, ( Leviticus 9:24 ) as appeared by the punishment of Nadab and Abihu, ( Leviticus 10:1 ).