1 Chronicles
Chapter 21

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1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

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.

3 And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?

4 Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.

5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

6 But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab.

7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.

8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.

9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying,

10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.

11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee

12 Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.

13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.

14 So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.

15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.

17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father's house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.

18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake in the name of the LORD.

20 And Ornan turned back, and saw the angel; and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat.

21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.

22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.

23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.

24 And king David said to Ornan, Nay; but I will verily buy it for the full price: for I will not take that which is thine for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.

25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.

26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings, and called upon the LORD; and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt offering.

27 And the LORD commanded the angel; and he put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.

28 At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.

29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon.

30 But David could not go before it to enquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.

Commentary for 1 Chronicles 21

David's numbering the people.

- No mention is made in this book of David's sin in the matter of Uriah, neither of the troubles that followed it: they had no needful connexion with the subjects here noted. But David's sin, in numbering the people, is related: in the atonement made for that sin, there was notice of the place on which the temple should be built. The command to David to build an altar, was a blessed token of reconciliation. God testified his acceptance of David's offerings on this altar. Thus Christ was made sin, and a curse for us; it pleased the Lord to bruise him, that through him, God might be to us, not a consuming Fire, but a reconciled God. It is good to continue attendance on those ordinances in which we have experienced the tokens of God's presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth. Here God graciously met me, therefore I will still expect to meet him.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Discussion for 1 Chronicles 21

  • The chapter shows us that there is no human power that can overcome the tempter.David,a man after God's heart was defeated.This shows us that our stronghold is in Christ whom the Lord of mercy has given us as a sacrifice.David realized his mistakes what about you and me?
  • Lorease on 1 Chronicles 21
    Anonymous verse 13- David understood his enemies would not show mercy and would destroy him. Man's heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked who can know it -Jer 17:9. Meanwhile, David had a relationship w/God and understood our God is MERCIFUL
  • Anonymous (verse 13) on 1 Chronicles 21
    Why did David choose not to fall into the hands of the enemy?
  • Christ Magnified Glorifying Jesus on 1 Chronicles 21
    Terrifying portion of scripture. David was cautioned by (in human terms) a "lesser man" ,Joab, to not number the people. It it were to happen it would be trusting the flesh for potential victory. Not only would David fall into the trap, but also the other leaders and the people of Israel. What a price is paid when we trust not the Spirit, but place trust in the flesh.
  • Peter A. Okebukola on 1 Chronicles 21
    I am in perfect agreement with you (A Disciple) on this. Thanks for your elucidation
  • A disciple on 1 Chronicles 21
    Hi Peter; I want to add to what you wrote. I'm sure it was simply a choice of words; but we resist the devil with the appropriate Scripture, and stand strong and firm and true; and flee from situations of temptations; but we don't run away from the devil, we rebuke him in Jesus' name! He is under our authority in the Lord. I know you know this, but just wanted to emphasize. Remember the Martyrs!
  • Peter A. Okebukola on 1 Chronicles 21
    Satan caused David to err by undertaking an unnecessary census of the Israelites. He saw the grave repercussion. The kind heart of the Lord held up further destruction by the angel. The lesson here is that we should strive to have the Holy Spirit in us so as to resist and flee from the devil. In an event we are overpowered by the devil, we should plead the mercy of God.
  • Sedric on 1 Chronicles 21
    This is as easy as it comes...there is no different here...the devil had to get permission from God
  • Shirley. on 1 Chronicles 21
    Giving Honor to the Lord our Saviour. 1Chronicles states Satan stood up against Isreal and decieved David into numbering Isreal. 2David told Joab to go and the rulers of the people, go number Isreal from Beershebato Dan. And bring h the total. That he may know it.3 and Joan said to David may the Lord multiply his people a hundred times But, my Lord the King are they all my Lord servants?
  • Manford malemia on 1 Chronicles 21
    David falls under and is defeated by satanic trial. He numbered the Israelites.Each sin has consequences. His nauh!on faces a plague. Prior to it, .he had already confessed of his sin and repented it. GOD removed the plague. Oh! How wonderful is our merciful, infallible and hearing GOD.


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Who provoked David to number Israel?
  • Philistines
  • Nebuchadnezzar
  • Satan
  • Joab