2 Samuel 24:3
And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
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(3) Why doth my lord?—Even in the eyes of the unscrupulous Joab David’s act was abominable. Joab never gives evidence of being influenced by religious motives, but his natural shrewdness sufficed to show him that David’s act was at variance with the fundamental principle of the national existence. Chronicles adds to Joab’s words, “Why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” The strong objection of Joab shows that there was something obviously wrong in the action of David.

And against the captains.—Joab’s objections were sustained by his subordinate officers, and David carried through his sinful act by sheer force of self-will.

2 Samuel 24:3-4. And Joab said, Now the Lord thy God add unto the people, &c. — Thus we see that this action of David was thought a very wrong step, even by Joab himself, who remonstrated against it, as apprehensive of the bad consequences that might attend it: and therefore Joab counted not Levi and Benjamin, (1 Chronicles 21:6,) because the king’s word was abominable to him. Probably we do not understand all the circumstances of this affair; but Joab’s sense of it, who was no scrupulous man, shows that David’s conduct in it was extremely imprudent, and might subject his people to very great inconveniences. Against Joab, and against the captains of the host — Who joined, it seems, with Joab to divert the king from his purpose; in which, however, he was fixed and immoveable.

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.

What reason or necessity is there for this action? It is to no purpose, and will be burdensome to thy people, and may offend God, and produce ill effects.

And Joab said unto the king,.... Not so rudely and insolently as he did on account of his mourning for Absalom, but in a more modest, decent, and polite manner:

now the Lord thy God add unto the people (how many soever they be) an hundredfold; he wished his subjects were an hundred times more numerous than they were:

and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it; that he might live to see with his own eyes so great an increase:

but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? he being now old, and therefore it might seem strange to indulge such curiosity, pride, and vanity, and besides quite needless and useless: the numbering of them would not make them more or less; and they were all the king's servants, who were ready to obey him whenever he needed them, whether numbered or not; and it might be prejudicial to them, and bring down the wrath of God upon them, as well as be a troublesome and expensive business; all which, though not expressed here, is hinted at in 1 Chronicles 21:3.

And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
3. the Lord thy God add, &c.] Cp. Deuteronomy 1:11.

and that the eyes, &c.] That is, may it happen in the king’s life-time.

why doth my lord, &c.] “Why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?” is the further explanation of Joab’s thoughts given in 1 Chronicles 21:3. It is probable that a shrewd practical man like Joab, whose life shews no signs of being influenced by religious motives, opposed the king’s purpose more from the fear of exciting disaffection among the people by a scheme to increase the burdens of military service, than from a sense that the king’s spirit was displeasing to God, though the latter motive may not have been altogether absent.

Verse 3. - Why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? Joab was an unscrupulous and irreligious man; but he was clear headed, and far more statesmanlike than David (2 Samuel 19:5-7). He saw whither the king was drifting, and that the increase of the royal power, resulting from successful war, would be fatal to the liberties of Israel. Probably, too, though he had consented to carry out Uriah's murder, yet he despised David for it. When he had murdered Abner to avenge Asahel, David had deprived him of his command, and he had to endure a long period of disgrace; and now David uses him to murder one altogether innocent. Joab, we may feel sure, noted the degradation of David's character, and drew the conclusion that he was not the man to be trusted at the head of a military despotism. Warned thus by what he saw, his mind reverted to the principles of the theocracy, and their truth and value became more clear to his understanding; and honourably he remonstrates with David for violating them. 2 Samuel 24:3Joab discountenanced the thing: "Jehovah thy God add to the nation, as it is, a hundredfold as many, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?" The ו before יוסף stands at the commencement, when what is said contains a sequel to something that has gone before (vid., Ges. 255, 1, a.). The thought to which Joab's words are appended as a sequel, is implied in what David said, "that I may know the number of the people;" and if expressed fully, his words would read somewhat as follows: "If thou hast delight in the greatness of the number of the people, may Jehovah," etc. Joab evidently saw through the king's intention, and perceived that the numbering of the people could not be of any essential advantage to David's government, and might produce dissatisfaction among the people, and therefore endeavoured to dissuade the king from his purpose. וכהם כּהם, "as they (the Israelites) just are," i.e., in this connection, "just as many as there are of them." From a grammatical point of view, כּהם is to be taken as the object to יוסף, as in the parallel passages, Deuteronomy 1:11; 2 Samuel 12:8. Not only did he desire that God would multiply the nation a hundredfold, but that He would do it during the lifetime of David, so that his eyes might be delighted with the immense numbers.
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