1 Chronicles 21:16
And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.
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(16) This verse is not read in Samuel, which, however, mentions the essential fact that David “saw the angel that smote the people” (2Samuel 24:17). There is nothing in the style to suggest suspicion of a later hand; and it is as likely that the compiler of Samuel has abridged the original account as that the chronicler has embellished it.

Having a drawn sword in his hand.—Comp. Numbers 22:23, where the same phrase occurs. Literally, and his sword drawn in his hand.

Stretched out.—See Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:12, &c., for this term so used of the menace of Divine wrath.

Then David and the elders.—Literally, and David fell, and the elders, covered with the sackcloth. on their faces. The elders have not been mentioned before, but wherever the king went he would naturally be accompanied by a retinue of nobles, and their presence on this occasion agrees with the statement of 2Samuel 24:20, that Araunah saw the king and his servants coming towards him. (See 1Chronicles 21:21, below.)

Fell upon their faces.—See Numbers 22:31; Joshua 5:14; Judges 13:20.

Clothed in sackcloth.—The garb of mourners and penitents.

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.Here a picture of awful grandeur takes the place of the bare statement of the earlier historian 2 Samuel 24:17. And here, as elsewhere, the author probably extracts from the ancient documents such circumstances as harmonize with his general plan. As the sanctity of the temple was among the points whereon he was most anxious to lay stress, he gives in full all the miraculous circumstances attending this first designation of what became the temple site (marginal reference "k") as a place "holy to the Lord."

David and the elders ... clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces - Facts additional to the narrative of Samuel; But facts natural in themselves, and in harmony with that narrative. Similarly, the narrative in 1 Chronicles 21:20 is additional to the account in Samuel; but its parts hang together; and there is no sufficient ground for suspecting it.

16. David and the elders … clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces—They appeared in the garb and assumed the attitude of humble penitents, confessing their sins, and deprecating the wrath of God. In sackcloth, i.e. in mourning garments, humbling themselves before God for their sins, and deprecating his wrath against the people. See Chapter Introduction And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
16. lift up] The old form of the past changed in modern editions to lifted up; cp. Genesis 22:4, etc.

saw the angel] The full description of the vision is peculiar to Chron.; cp. 2 Samuel 24:17.

and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth] The words supplied in A.V. are unnecessary, and are omitted in R.V. The wearing of sackcloth was doubtless accompanied with fasting; cp. Jonah 3:5.Verses 16, 17. - These verses offer instances, especially the former, of the shorter narratives not being with Chronicles, but with Samuel And the longer narrative being with Chronicles is found uniformly in the cases in which reference is had, whether more or less directly, to the ecclesiastical or permanent institution of the Israelites. The naming of the העם שׂרי along with Joab is in accordance with the circumstances, for we learn from 2 Samuel 24:4 that Joab did not carry out the numbering of the people alone, but was assisted by the captains of the host. The object of אלי והביאוּ, which is not expressed, the result of the numbering, may be supplied from the context. No objection need be taken to the simple כּהם of 1 Chronicles 21:3, instead of the double וכהם כּהם in Samuel. The repetition of the same word, "there are so and so many of them," is a peculiarity of the author of the book of Samuel (cf. 2 Samuel 12:8), while the expression in the Chronicle corresponds to that in Deuteronomy 1:11. With the words וגו אדני הלא, "Are they not, my lord king, all my lord's servants," i.e., subject to him? Joab allays the suspicion that he grudged the king the joy of reigning over a very numerous people. In 2 Samuel 24:3 the thought takes another turn; and the last clause, "Why should it (the thing or the numbering) become a trespass for Israel?" is wanting. אשׁמה denotes here a trespass which must be atoned for, not one which one commits. The meaning is therefore, Why should Israel expiate thy sin, in seeking thy glory in the power and greatness of thy kingdom? On the numbers, 1 Chronicles 21:5, see on 2 Samuel 24:9. In commenting on 1 Chronicles 21:6, which is not to be found in Samuel, Berth. defends the statement that Joab did not make any muster of the tribes Levi and Benjamin, against the objections of de Wette and Gramberg, as it is done in my apologet. Versuche, Sa. 349ff., by showing that the tribe of Levi was by law (cf. Numbers 1:47-54) exempted from the censuses of the people taken for political purposes; and the tribe of Benjamin was not numbered, because David, having become conscious of his sin, stopped the numbering before it was completed (cf. also the remarks on 2 Samuel 24:9). The reason given, "for the king's word was an abomination unto Joab," is certainly the subjective opinion of the historian, but is shown to be well founded by the circumstances, for Joab disapproved of the king's design from the beginning; (cf. 2 Samuel 24:3 and 1 Chronicles 21:3). - In 1 Chronicles 21:7, the author of the Chronicle, instead of ascribing the confession of sin on David's part which follows to the purely subjective motive stated in the words, "and David's heart smote him," i.e., his conscience (2 Samuel 24:10), has ascribed the turn matters took to objective causes: the thing displeased God; and anticipating the course of events, he remarks straightway, "and He (God) smote Israel." This, however, is no reason for thinking, with Berth., that the words have arisen out of a misinterpretation or alteration of 2 Samuel 24:10; for such anticipatory remarks, embracing the contents of the succeeding verses, not unfrequently occur in the historical books (cf. e.g., 1 Kings 6:14; 1 Kings 7:2). - In reference to 1 Chronicles 21:8-10, see on 2 Samuel 24:10-16. - In 1 Chronicles 21:12, נספּה has not come into the text by mistake or by misreading נסך (2 Samuel 24:13), but is original, the author of the Chronicle describing the two latter evils more at length than Samuel does. The word is not a participle, but a noun formed from the participle, with the signification "perishing" (the being snatched away). The second parallel clause, "the sword of thine enemies to attaining" (so that it reach thee), serves to intensify. So also in reference to the third evil, the יהוה חרב which precedes בּארץ דּבר, and the parallel clause added to both: "and the angel of the Lord destroying in the whole domain of Israel."
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