1 CHRONICLES 21
1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
Strictly speaking, we ought to look, before it, at the covenant communicated to David, through the prophet Nathan, concerning the perpetual stability of his throne in the hands of a Son who should reign for ever. This was the visible hand of God in the life of David, in its most important form in one sense; as also was the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit with him, which made his glowing psalms the effusions of prophecy, and which exalted to the dignity and authority of an oracle, his "last words" concerning the
"everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure."
But these most precious exhibitions of the visible hand of God are all in the nature of revelation by inspiration, to which attention has already been given early in these chapters. They do not, therefore, now call for that specific consideration which the miraculous destruction of nearly a hundred thousand men naturally challenges.
David, in a moment of human complacency, had the number of his fighting men enumerated.*
2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.
Concerning this also, the remark so frequently suggested by these narratives has to be made, that the occurrence of such a passage in the national archives of the house of Israel is inexplicable on any other hypothesis than its truth.
If God were not in the matter, it is inconceivable that the numbering of the people should have come to be considered an offence: for on no principle natural to men left to their own thoughts would such a thing be regarded in that light.
To glory in one's greatness is universal among natural men-a thing done and accepted as the right thing to be done in all countries, and in all ages of which history furnishes any record.
Even boasting is not viewed as a crime; and as to ascertaining the exact extent of your resources, the idea of its being a censurable thing would be scouted in every land-in every age. A mere affair of innocent statistics! But here it is put down on record as a crime against God.
That the king should be represented at all in the national records as falling into error is conclusive evidence of truth, in view of the universal disposition of courtiers of all sorts to be flatterers, and, at least, to be smooth spoken, and say nothing about the king's faults. But that such a thing should be represented as a punishable offence is not at all to be accounted for on the notion that we are dealing with an invented narrative. No man could suggest even a plausible notion of how such a narrative could come to be put on record if it were not true. Its truth admitted, all is clear as noonday.*
*Visible hand of God Ch 23