|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:1-30 David's numbering the people. - No mention is made in this book of David's sin in the matter of Uriah, neither of the troubles that followed it: they had no needful connexion with the subjects here noted. But David's sin, in numbering the people, is related: in the atonement made for that sin, there was notice of the place on which the temple should be built. The command to David to build an altar, was a blessed token of reconciliation. God testified his acceptance of David's offerings on this altar. Thus Christ was made sin, and a curse for us; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, that through him, God might be to us, not a consuming Fire, but a reconciled God. It is good to continue attendance on those ordinances in which we have experienced the tokens of God's presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth. Here God graciously met me, therefore I will still expect to meet him.
Verse 6. - Averse to his task as Joab was, he may have been indebted to the memory of the exemption of Levi from census for the idea of enlarging upon it and omitting Benjamin as well. The important contents of this short verse are not found in Samuel, so that we can borrow no light thence. But Benjamin was "the least of the tribes" (Judges 21:1-23), and Peele has suggested that God would not permit the numbers of either of these tribes to be lessened, as he foresaw that they would be faithful to the throne of David on the division of the kingdom. Others think that the omission of these tribes in the census may have been due to Joab's recall to Jerusalem before the completion of the work, and to the king's repentance in the interim cutting off the necessity of completing it. This little agrees, however, with the resolute tone and assigned reason contained in this verse. Peele's explanation, meantime, explains nothing in respect of the statement that the king's word was abominable to Joab.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. Levi and Benjamin counted he not—If this census was ordered with a view to the imposition of taxes, this alone would account for Levi, who were not warriors (1Ch 21:5), not being numbered (see on Nu 1:47-54). The population of Benjamin had been taken (see on 1Ch 7:6-11), and the register preserved in the archives of that tribe. This, however, was taken on another occasion, and by other agency than that of Joab. The non-numbering of these two tribes might have originated in the special and gracious providence of God, partly because Levi was devoted to His service, and Benjamin had become the least of all the tribes (Jud 21:1-25); and partly because God foresaw that they would remain faithful to the house of David in the division of the tribes, and therefore He would not have them diminished [Poole]. From the course followed in this survey (see on 2Sa 24:4-8), it would appear that Judah and Benjamin were the last tribes that were to be visited; and that, after the census in Judah had been finished, Joab, before entering on that of Benjamin, had to return to Jerusalem, where the king, now sensible of his great error, gave orders to stop all further proceedings in the business. Not only the remonstrance of Joab at the first, but his slow progress in the survey (2Sa 24:8) showed the strong repugnance and even horror of the old general at this unconstitutional measure.
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