2 Samuel 24:2
For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number you the people, that I may know the number of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
2 Samuel 24:2. From Dan even to Beer-sheba — From one end of the country to the other. For Dan was the utmost bound of it in the north, and Beer-sheba in the south. That I may know the number of the people — This expression shows David’s sin in this matter, that he numbered them, not by direction from God, but out of mere curiosity, and pride, and vain-glory; accompanied with a confidence in the numbers of his people. All which sins were so manifest, that not only God saw them, but even Joab and the captains of the host.24:1-9 For the people's sin David was left to act wrong, and in his chastisement they received punishment. This example throws light upon God's government of the world, and furnishes a useful lesson. The pride of David's heart, was his sin in numbering of the people. He thought thereby to appear the more formidable, trusting in an arm of flesh more than he should have done, and though he had written so much of trusting in God only. God judges not of sin as we do. What appears to us harmless, or, at least, but a small offence, may be a great sin in the eye of God, who discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. Even ungodly men can discern evil tempers and wrong conduct in believers, of which they themselves often remain unconscious. But God seldom allows those whom he loves the pleasures they sinfully covet.1 Chronicles 21:2, supplies some missing words. This passage should run, as at 2 Samuel 24:4, "And the king said to Joab and to the princes of the host who were with him," etc. (compare 1 Chronicles 27:22). They were employed "with Joab" as his assistants in the numbering, exactly as in the previous numbering Numbers 1:4 when a prince was appointed from each tribe to be "with" Moses and Aaron. CHAPTER 24

2Sa 24:1-9. David Numbers the People.

1-4. again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah—"Again" carries us back to the former tokens of His wrath in the three years' famine [2Sa 21:1]. God, though He cannot tempt any man (Jas 1:13), is frequently described in Scripture as doing what He merely permits to be done; and so, in this case, He permitted Satan to tempt David. Satan was the active mover, while God only withdrew His supporting grace, and the great tempter prevailed against the king. (See Ex 7:13; 1Sa 26:19; 2Sa 16:10; Ps 105:25; Isa 7:17, &c.). The order was given to Joab, who, though not generally restrained by religious scruples, did not fail to present, in strong terms (see on [279]1Ch 21:3), the sin and danger of this measure. He used every argument to dissuade the king from his purpose. The sacred history has not mentioned the objections which he and other distinguished officers urged against it in the council of David. But it expressly states that they were all overruled by the inflexible resolution of the king.

Which expression points at David’s sin in this matter, that he numbered them, not by direction from God, nor for any important business of the church or kingdom; but out of mere curiosity, and pride, and vain-glory; accompanied either with a secret distrust of God’s promise; or rather, with a carnal confidence in the numbers of his people; all which were great sins, and were so manifest, that not only God saw them, and all the degrees and aggravations of them, in David; but even Joab and the captains of the host were very sensible of them, 2 Samuel 24:3,4. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him,.... Or who was with him, even Joab, who was now at court, and was a counsellor of David, as well as his general; or which army was with Joab, a standing army he had the command of:

go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba; from the northern part of the land of Israel to the southern part of it, and this course was accordingly steered, 2 Samuel 24:6,

and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people; so that this appears to be done not through any urgent necessity, but merely out of curiosity, and to gratify the pride of his heart, and please himself with the thought of ruling such a numerous people, and brag of their numbers to other nations, and place his confidence therein; and no wonder it was displeasing to the Lord.

For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the {c} number of the people.

(c) Because he did this to determine his power and to trust in it, it offended God, for otherwise it was lawful to number the people, Ex 30:12, Nu 1:2.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. For the king said] And the king said: yielding to the temptation to which he was subjected by permission of God through the instrumentality of Satan.

the host] The word for host in 2 Samuel 24:2; 2 Samuel 24:4 is different from that generally used of the Israelite army, and perhaps indicates that this chapter was derived from a different source.

number ye] It is stated in 1 Chronicles 21:2 that the commission was given to “Joab and to the captains (or princes) of the people.” Their cooperation is here implied by the use of the plural, and by 2 Samuel 24:4. They were associated with Joab in the work, just as the princes of the tribes were associated with Moses and Aaron in taking the census (Numbers 1:4 ff.), and this indicates that the census had some military object in view.Verse 2. - For the king said; Hebrew, and the king said. David's command was not the cause of Jehovah's auger, but the result of his having himself given way to ambition; and, as he yielded to the temptation, it so far became an act of Satan, in that it led to sin; but in its final result it led to good, in that the chastisement cured the people of their thirst for war. And as Satan can act only so far as the Divine will permits, the temptation was most truly the doing of Jehovah (but see note on 1 Samuel 26:19). Captain of the host, which was with him. There is a good deal of difficulty about this passage, as the word for "host" is not that elsewhere used, and the last phrase is somewhat meaningless. In 1 Chronicles 21:2 we find "David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people." Without the concurrence of these rulers, who were the princes of the tribes, the census could not have been taken. But as the ancient versions confirm the reading of the Hebrew here, no change of the text is admissible. Number ye. This is distinctly the war word, for which see note on 2 Samuel 18:1. It proves that the census was taken for military reasons. Even this in itself was not wrong (Numbers 26:2), but it is indicative of David's purpose. When, moreover, Moses numbered the people, the census was taken by the priests (Numbers 1:3; Numbers 26:1, 2), and from the payment of the half shekel to the sanctuary, it appears that it was to some extent a religious ceremony. All this David neglects, and the employment of Joab goes far to prove that what David wanted was an examination of the military resources of his kingdom. Hezro the Carmelite, i.e., of Carmel in the mountains of Judah (1 Samuel 25:2). Paarai the Arbite, i.e., of Arab, also in the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:52). In the Chronicles we find Naarai ben-Ezbi: the latter is evidently an error in writing for ha-Arbi; but it is impossible to decide which of the two forms, Paarai and Naarai, is the correct one.
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