And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said to the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech you, O LORD, take away the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)David’s heart smote him.—This time David’s own conscience was awakened, without the necessity of being roused, as in the case of Uriah, by the visit of a prophet. He confesses his sin, and prays for pardon. Still it must be remembered that ten months had passed (2Samuel 24:8) before David saw his sin.2 Samuel 24:10. David’s heart smote him — His conscience discerned his sin, and he was heartily sorry for it. That heart, which was so lately dilated with vanity, now shrunk into contrition and penitence. O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant — Or, the punishment of mine iniquity. Since he condemned himself and begged pardon, he hoped the punishment deserved might be remitted. But he was deceived; because not only himself but his people also had offended.1 Chronicles 27:23 indicates sufficiently why the numbering was sinful. It is also stated in 1 Chronicles 21:6, that Joab purposely omitted Levi and Benjamin from the reckoning.
Eight hundred thousand ... five hundred thousand - In Chronicles the numbers are differently given. It is probable therefore that the Chronicler has included in his statement of the sum total some numbers which are not included here.
10-13. David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned—The act of numbering the people was not in itself sinful; for Moses did it by the express authority of God. But David acted not only independently of such order or sanction, but from motives unworthy of the delegated king of Israel; from pride and vainglory; from self-confidence and distrust of God; and, above all, from ambitious designs of conquest, in furtherance of which he was determined to force the people into military service, and to ascertain whether he could muster an army sufficient for the magnitude of the enterprises he contemplated. It was a breach of the constitution, an infringement of the liberties of the people, and opposed to that divine policy which required that Israel should continue a separate people. His eyes were not opened to the heinousness of his sin till God had spoken unto him by His commissioned prophet.David’s heart smote him; his conscience discerned his sin, and he was heartily sorry for it. And the occasion of his repentance was God’s message by the prophet Gad, as it here follows, 2 Samuel 24:11, For when, &c.; as formerly God’s message by Nathan had the same effect, 2Sa 12; both which passages are noted, to show how necessary the further and repeated supplies of God’s grace are, even to the best of men, to raise them when they fall into sin.
For I have done very foolishly, because I am sensible of my sin and folly, as it is more fully expressed, Psalm 51:5,6. Or, although, as this particle is oft used. Exodus 30:12; intent only upon increasing his own revenue, as some think, intending to impose a poll tax upon the people when he had numbered them; and attempting to number a people who were not to be numbered; and numbering those who were under the age of twenty, and therefore the plague began before it was finished, 1 Chronicles 27:23,
and David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done; he saw and owned his sin to be exceeding sinful, attended with very aggravating circumstances:
and now I beseech thee, Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant; the guilt of it from his conscience, which lay heavy there, and suffer not the punishment it deserves to take place on him, but grant an application of pardon to him:
for I have done very foolishly; all sin is folly, and some sins are exceeding foolish, and so this appeared to David; or, "though I have done very foolishly" (b), yet forgive my sin, see Psalm 38:5.And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
10. David’s heart smote him] Conscience accused him, and he became aware of his guilt. He recognised the sinfulness of the proud and vainglorious spirit of self-confidence and desire for worldly aggrandisement which had induced him to take the census. See Additional Note v. p. 238.
I have done very foolishly] Cp. 1 Samuel 13:13; 2 Chronicles 16:9. In both these cases, as in effect here, the folly was sin springing from distrust of God.Verse 10. - David's heart smote him. It appears from 1 Chronicles 27:24 that the census was not completed, and, though Joab had visited Judah, he had not even begun to enrol the names of the men of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chronicles 21:6). It appears also that the displeasure of God was manifesting itself before David repented (1 Chronicles 21:7; 1 Chronicles 27:24). Some sign of this, either in public trouble, or in the brooding of the pestilential miasma over the land, brought home to David's mind the conviction of sin; and he at once humbled himself before God, for the vanity of mind which had engendered in him a wicked lust after martial glory and thirst for bloodshed. I have done very foolishly (comp. 1 Samuel 13:13; 2 Chronicles 16:9). Joshua 12:2; Numbers 32:34, etc.), it is defined more precisely as "the town in the brook-valley of Gad," i.e., Aroer of Gad before Rabbah (Joshua 13:25; Judges 11:33), in the Wady Nahr Ammn, to the north-east of Ammn (see at Joshua 13:25). ועל־יעזר (and to Jazer): this is a second place of encampment, and the preposition אל is to be explained on the supposition that יבאוּ (they came), which follows, was already in the writer's thoughts. Jazer is probably to be found in the ruins of es Szir, at the source of the Nahr Szir (see at Numbers 21:32).
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