|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 7. - Smote Israel. These two words serve simply to summarize in the first instance what the compiler is about to rehearse at greater length. The parallel place shows, "And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people." Some better power occasioned that smiting. Reflection brought to David's heart and conscience (1 Samuel 24:5), as often to those of others, restored vitality. The exact circumstances or providences, however, which roused into action the conscience of David are not stated. The second clause of our verse cannot refer to any preliminary smiting, but to the oncoming visitation of pestilence. It is noticeable, if only as a coincidence, that the eleventh verse of the parallel passage (2 Samuel 24:11) opens with a similarly ambiguously placed clause, "For when David was up in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the Prophet Gad," although this is explainable simply as our insufficient Authorized Version rendering. However, failing any external cause, the beginning of ver. 10 in this same parallel place may intimate the adequate account of all in the spontaneous stirring of David's conscience" the bitter thoughts of conscience born." In these two verses we suddenly come upon the name "God" instead of "the Lord," i.e. Jehovah.
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