1 Chronicles 27:23
But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.
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(23) But David took (Numbers 3:40, nāsā’mispar) not the number of them.—This and the next verse contain concluding remarks on the two lists communicated in 1Chronicles 27:1-22. The heading of the chapter professes that the “sons of Israel, according to their number,” is the subject in hand. This appended note limits that statement to those who were above “twenty years old,” that is, to those who were of the military age. The reference is undoubtedly to the census, of which 1 Chronicles 21 gave the account; and it is evident that one of the main objects of that census was the military and political organisation here so scantily and obscurely described.

Because the Lord had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.—The reason why David restricted the census to those who were capable of bearing arms (see Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17). The idea implied seems to be that to attempt to number Israel would be to evince a distrust of Jehovah’s faithfulness; and, perhaps, that such an attempt could not possibly succeed.

1 Chronicles 27:23. David took not the number from twenty years old and under — But only of those who were above the age of twenty years, or (which is the same thing) those that drew the sword, 1 Chronicles 21:5. Because the Lord had said, &c. — And therefore to number them all, both above and under twenty years old, had been both an infinite trouble and a tempting of God, or a questioning the truth of his promises.

27:16-34 The officers of the court, or the rulers of the king's substance, had the oversight and charge of the king's tillage, his vineyards, his herds, his flocks, which formed the wealth of eastern kings. Much of the wisdom of princes is seen in the choice of their ministry, and common persons show it in the choice of their advisers. David, though he had all these about him, preferred the word of God before them all. Thy testimonies are my delight and my counsellors.David's numbering of the people was therefore a military arrangement in order to fix the amount of his standing army. To the general Oriental prejudice against numbering possessions, etc., there was added in the case of the Jews a special objection - a feeling that it would be irreverent to attempt to count what God had promised should be countless. 23. But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under—The census which David ordered did not extend to all the Israelites; for to contemplate such an enumeration would have been to attempt an impossibility (Ge 28:14), and besides would have been a daring offense to God. The limitation to a certain age was what had probably quieted David's conscience as to the lawfulness of the measure, while its expediency was strongly pressed upon his mind by the army arrangements he had in view. The meaning is, David, when he desired to number the people, he designed to number only those who were from twenty years old and upward, or (which is the same thing) those that drew sword, 1 Chronicles 21:5, and not those who were from twenty years old and under.

He would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens; and therefore to number them all both above and under twenty years old, had been both an infinite trouble, and a tempting of God, or a questioning of the truth of his promises. And possibly this circumstance might in part deceive or quiet David’s conscience, that his desire of knowing the number of his people did not proceed from distrust of God’s promise or providence, but from a prudent care to know the true state and strength of his kingdom.

But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under,.... Only those that were twenty years and upwards; but, according to Cornelius Bertram (k), he numbered them that were under twenty, though but sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen years of age, provided they were of robust bodies, and of a tall stature, and able to bear arms; which he takes to be the sin of David, in numbering the people, being contrary to the law of God; yet though he had ordered them to be numbered, and they were, yet he would not take them and put them into the account of his chronicles, as in the next verse, that his sin might not be known, see 2 Samuel 24:9.

because the Lord had said, he would increase Israel like to the stars in the heavens; which are not to be numbered, and therefore David sinned in attempting to number the people.

(k) Lucubrat. Franktall, c. 2.

But David took not the number of them from twenty years old and under: because the LORD had said he would increase Israel like to the stars of the heavens.
23. took not the number] (Cp. the note at the head of this paragraph). The Chronicler notices that David conformed to the regulation given in Numbers 1:3, viz., that only those above twenty years old, and not those below twenty, were to be numbered.

Verse 23. - The contents of this and the following verse may be supposed to be suggested by the distinct reference to the matter of number in the first verse of the chapter, and in the latter halves of the following fourteen verses, contrasting with the utter absence of any allusion to the same matter, when the whole body of the tribes and their princes are the subject, in vers. 16-22. The deeper significance of the latter part of this verse probably comes to this; that God had already given his people the proudest name for their numbers, in saying that they should be numberless, like to the stars of the heavens, and perpetually on the increase. 1 Chronicles 27:231 Chronicles 27:23 and 1 Chronicles 27:24 contain a concluding remark on the catalogue of the twelve detachments into which the men capable of bearing arms in Israel were divided, contained in 1 Chronicles 27:2-15. David had not taken their number from the men of twenty years and under, i.e., he had only caused those to be numbered who were over twenty years old. The word מספּרם points back to למספּרם, 1 Chronicles 27:1. מספּר נשׂא as in Numbers 3:40 equals ראשׁ נשׂא, Exodus 30:12; Numbers 1:49, to take up the sum or total. The reason of this is given in the clause, "for Jahve had said (promised) to increase Israel like to the stars of heaven" (Genesis 22:17), which cannot mean: For it was impossible for David to number all, because they were as numerous as the stars of heaven, which of course cannot be numbered (Berth.). The thought is rather that David never intended to number the whole people from the youngest to the eldest, for he did not desire in fidem divinarum promissionum inquirere aut eam labefactare (J. H. Mich.); and he accordingly caused only the men capable of bearing arms to be numbered, in order to organize the military constitution of the kingdom in the manner recorded in 1 Chronicles 27:2-15. But even this numbering which Joab had begun was not completed, because wrath came on Israel because of it, as is narrated in 1 Chronicles 21. For this reason also the number, i.e., the result of the numbering begun by Joab, but not completed, is not included in the number of the chronicle of King David, i.e., in the official number which was usually inserted in the public annals. בּמספּר neither stands for בּספר (according to 2 Chronicles 20:34), nor does it denote, "in the section which treats of the numberings" (Berth.). היּמים דּברי is a shorter expression for h' דּברי ספר, book of the events of the day.
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