2 Samuel 24:10
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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(10) 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.24:10-15 It is well, when a man has sinned, if he has a heart within to smite him for it. If we confess our sins, we may pray in faith that God would forgive them, and take away, by pardoning mercy, that sin which we cast away by sincere repentance. What we make the matter of our pride, it is just in God to take from us, or make bitter to us, and make it our punishment. This must be such a punishment as the people have a large share in, for though it was David's sin that opened the sluice, the sins of the people all contributed to the flood. In this difficulty, David chose a judgment which came immediately from God, whose mercies he knew to be very great, rather than from men, who would have triumphed in the miseries of Israel, and have been thereby hardened in their idolatry. He chose the pestilence; he and his family would be as much exposed to it as the poorest Israelite; and he would continue for a shorter time under the Divine rebuke, however severe it was. The rapid destruction by the pestilence shows how easily God can bring down the proudest sinners, and how much we owe daily to the Divine patience.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.

2Sa 24:10-14. He, Having Three Plagues Propounded by GAD, Repents, and Chooses Three Days' Pestilence.

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. And David's heart smote him, after that had numbered the people,.... For nine or ten months his conscience lay asleep, but now the thing was done, it is awakened, and accuses him for it, and he repents of it; now he began to see the pride and haughtiness of his heart; his vanity and confidence in the creature, which led him to it; aggravated by doing it without seeking to know the mind of God, and without giving him his due, the half shekel, according to the law, 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.

(b) "quamvis", so Goassius notes it may be rendered; so Pool.

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.
10–14. The choice of punishments

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). But as the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the captains of the army, they (Joab and the other captains) went out to number Israel. יחנוּ, they encamped, i.e., they fixed their headquarters in the open field, because great crowds assembled together. This is only mentioned here in connection with the place where the numbering commenced; but it is to be understood as applying to the other places as well (Thenius). In order to distinguish Aroer from the place of the same name in the Arnon, in the tribe of Reuben (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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