I Chronicles 21



This very important chapter in David’s history is the parallel of II Samuel 24:1-25,

which contains some details not found here, e.g. the route taken by those who

went to number Israel (Ibid. vs.5-8), and omits others. This chapter furnishes one

of the clearer proofs (in respect of what it supplies, not found in Samuel) that its

indebtedness is not to that book, but to a work open as well to the compiler of

Chronicles as to the writer of Samuel. Its contents fall into five sections.


  • David’s command to number the people, with Joab’s remonstrances

(vs. 1-6).

  • The means taken to rouse David to a sense of his sin, and his confession

thereof (vs. 7-8).

  • The choice between punishments presented to him and his prayer under

the drawn sword of the angel for the sparing of the people (vs. 9-17).

  • The accepted propitiatory sacrifices and offerings of David, and the

consequent stay of the plague (vs. 18-27).

  • David’s grateful establishment of that same spot as the place of sacrifice

(vs. 28-30).


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

Israel.”  This remarkable sentence takes the place of the statements

in the parallel, “And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel,

and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.”

(II Samuel 24:1).  Our own passage seems to confine the temptation and sin

to David. David also seems to be spoken of as the object of malignant attack

on the part of Satan, though Israel is spoken of as the object of malignant envy

and animosity. It is also to be noticed that in v. 17 David takes all the blame

to himself, and speaks of the people as “innocent sheep.” A people and

whole nation have, indeed, often suffered the smart of one ruler’s sin. Yet

here the light thrown upon the whole event by the account in the Book of

Samuel must be accepted as revealing the fact that there had been

previously something amiss on the part of the people — perhaps something

of illest significance lurking in their constitution. This alone could “kindle

the auger of the Lord against Israel.” It is the opposite of this which

kindles the anger of Satan — when he witnesses excellence, surpassing

excellence, as when he witnesses “the weakest saint,” yet in that strongest

position,” on his knees.” The apparent inconsistency in Satan being spoken

of as resisting Israel, and the anger of the Lord being spoken of as kindled

against Israel, is but apparent and superficial. In the first place, these

histories do only purport to state the facts overt. And in this sense either

alternative statement gives the prima facie facts. Either is true, and both

may be true in different chronological order. And further, that the anger of

the Lord was kindled against Israel is no disproof that Satan will see and

seize his opportunity. It looks the contrary way. There was a time and an

occasion in Eden when Satan thought he saw an opportunity, tried it, and

found it, when the anger of the Lord was not kindled against Adam and

Eve for certain. But much more prompt will be the executive of Satan at

another and less doubtful time. The paths in written history are often

awhile rugged and broken up; the written history of Scripture is no

exception. And in thus being the more in analogy with history itself, those

unevennesses and breaks are the better attestation of both the reality of the

Scripture history and the veracity of its writers. The word (ˆf"c;) occurs

twenty-four times in the Old Testament. On all occasions of its occurrence

in the Book of Job and in the prophecies of Zechariah, it shows the

prefixed definite article; in all other places it is, with the present passage,

unaccompanied by the article. Its translation here might appear strictly as

that of a proper name. But this cannot be said of the other instances of its

use, when without the article (Numbers 22:22, 32; I Samuel 29:4).

This constitutes with some the ground of the very opposite opinion and

opposite translation. If we regard the name as utterly expressing the

personality of Satan, the passage is very noteworthy, and will be most

safely regarded as the language of the compiler, and not as copied from the

original source. The signification of the word “Satan,” as is well known, is

“adversary” (I Peter 5:8; Job 1:7) or “accuser” (Revelation 12:10).   The sin of

David in giving the order of this verse was of a technical and ceremonial character,

in the first place, whatever his motives were, and however intensified by other

causes of a moral and more individual complexion. We learn (Exodus 30:12-16)

the special enactments respecting what was to be observed when “the sum of the

children of Israel after their number” was to be taken. However, the same

passage does not say, it fails to say, when such a numbering would be

legitimate or when not. It is left us, therefore, to deduce this from

observation. And we notice, in the first place, that, on the occasion of its

undoubted rightness, it is the work of the distinct commandment of God

(Numbers 1:1-3; 26:1-4). Next, we notice the religious contribution,

“the ransom,” that was required with it (Exodus 30:12-16; 38:25-26;

Numbers 31:48-54). Again, we notice that the numberings narrated

both in the beginning of the Book of Numbers (1.) and toward the close

(26.) had specific moral objects as assigned by God — among them the

forcible teaching of the loss entailed by the successive rebellions of the

people (Numbers 26:64-65; Deuteronomy 2:14-15). And though

last, not least, all these indications are lighted up by the express and

emphatic announcements in God’s original promises to Abraham, Isaac,

and Jacob, that their seed should become past numbering, multitudinous as

the stars, and as the sands of the seashore. From all which we may

conclude that only that numbering was held legitimate which was for

God’s service in some form, and as against human pride and boastfulness

— by God’s command as against a human king’s fancy — and which was

attended by the payment of that solemn “ransom” money, the bekah, or

half-shekel (Exodus 30:12). Other numbering had snares about it, and it

was no doubt because it had such intrinsically that it was divinely

discountenanced, and in this case severely punished. It seems gratuitous

with some to tax David with having other motives than those of some sort

of vanity now at work, sinister designs of preparing, unaided and

unpermitted, some fresh military exploits, or stealing a march on the nation

itself in the matter of some new system of taxation. The context offers no

corroboration of either of these notions, while several lesser indications

point to the simplest explanation (ch.27:23 – No sense counting that

which is innumerable – CY -2012).



A King’s Pride (v.1)


The Scripture historians do not conceal David’s faults. Though they

represent him as the man after God’s heart, they faithfully record his

grievous defections. He was evidently a man in whom the ordinary

principles of human nature were unusually vigorous. There was,

accordingly, warmth in his piety, and his sins were those peculiar to an

ardent and passionate nature. His warlike impulses led him into cruelty, his

amatory passions into adultery, his violence into murder, his self-confidence

into the act of regal pride which is condemned in this passage.

Accustomed as we are to a periodical census, and indeed to statistics of all

kinds, it is difficult for us to understand how blamable was David’s conduct

in numbering the people.


  • Observe AT WHOSE INSTIGATION the king acted. Although in

Samuel we are told that the Lord’s anger with Israel was the deepest

reason for the act and the explanation of all that followed it, our text refers

the conduct of David to “an adversary.” Whether this enemy was human,

or, as is generally supposed, superhuman, diabolical, is not material. A

tempter, an adversary, suggested the sinful motive and the disobedient



  • Observe THE MOTIVE which led to this act. It was a motive often

influential with the prosperous and the powerful. It was VANITY,

 confidence in his own greatness, in the number of his soldiers, in the

resources of his subjects. David had been a warrior whose arms had

been attended with remarkable success, and, like many such, he

doubtless deemed himself invincible.



Many sins are committed heedlessly. Not so this; for Joab, who was by no

means a counselor always to be trusted, warned his master against this act

of folly, which he saw was “a cause of trespass to Israel” (v.3).  David

was not to be deterred, and perhaps resented, as such characters are wont

to do, any resistance to his will. Temptation from without, evil passions

from within, are often enough to overcome the calmest and the wisest

counsels and admonitions. A lesson this of HUMAN FRAILTY!   

A summons also to PENTITENCE and to HUMILITY.


2 “And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people,” – So Numbers 1:4,

“And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of

his fathers” (see also ch.27:22-24; II Samuel 24:4-5) -  “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?” -  The place of this perfectly intelligible sentence,

indicating that Joab discerned the object of David in desiring the numbering

of the people, is occupied in the Book of II Samuel 24:3 by the words,

“And that the eyes of my lord the king may see it;” which some for no very

evident reason prefer. It was, no doubt, a very radical element of David’s sin

in this matter that he was thinking of the nation too much as his own servants,

instead of as the servants of his one Master. The Lord ever knoweth who are

His (II Timothy 2:19), and numbereth not only them and their names, but their

every sigh, tear, prayer - “why then doth my Lord require this thing? why

will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?”  This clause may be explained as

though trespass was equivalent to the consequences, i.e. the punishment of trespass.

This.however, rather tends to explain away than to explain a phrase. More

probably the deeper meaning is that, in the fact of the numbering, nation

and king would become one in act, and would become involved together in

indisputable sin. Though there were no unfeigned assent and consent in the

great body of the nation to the numbering, yet they would become

participators in the wrong-doing. It would further seem evident, from Joab

addressing these words to the king, that it was a thing familiarly known and

thoroughly understood that the course David was now bent on following

was one virtually, if not actually, prohibited, and not one merely likely to

be displeasing to God on account of any individual disposition in David to

be boastful or self-confident. Otherwise it would be scarcely within the

province of Joab either to express or suppose this of his royal master.


4  “Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore

Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.”

This short verse stands in the place of all the five verses of II Samuel 24:4-8,

with their interesting contents, giving the route which Joab and his assistants

took, and the time occupied (nine months and twenty days) to their return.


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.”  The report of the

numbers as given in this verse does not tally with that of the parallel place.

Here they are three hundred thousand more for Israel, and thirty thousand

fewer for Judah, than there. No really satisfactory explanation of these

discrepancies has yet appeared. The somewhat ingenious suggestion that

the Chronicle-compiler counted in the standing army (two hundred and

eighty-eight thousand, ch.27:1-15) for Israel, and omitted from Judah a

supposed “thirty thousand,” under the head of “the thirty” of our ch.11.;

while the writer of the Book of Samuel did exactly the converse, — can

scarcely pass muster, although it must be noticed that it would meet in the

main the exigencies of the case.  A likelier suggestion might be found in a

comparison of the statements of our v. 6 compared with ch.27:22-24. Indeed,

the last sentence of this last-quoted verse (Ibid. v.24) may possibly

contain the explanation of all (compare Numbers 1:47-50; 2:33). That

Joab utterly refused to number Levi, because this was a thing most

distinctly prohibited (and further because it was not material to David’s

presumable objects), was quite to be expected. And though Joab is said in

the following verse not to have numbered Benjamin, it is possible enough

that he may have known this number (ch.7:6-11). Yet see what follows.


6 “But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king’s

word was abominable to Joab.” Averse to his task as Joab was, he may have

been indebted to the memory of the exemption of Levi from census for the idea

of enlarging upon it and omitting Benjamin as well. The important contents of this

short verse are not found in Samuel, so that we can borrow no light thence. But

Benjamin was “the least of the tribes” (Judges 21:1-23), and Peele has

suggested that God would not permit the numbers of either of these tribes

to be lessened, as He foresaw that they would be faithful to the throne of

David on the division of the kingdom. Others think that the omission of

these tribes in the census may have been due to Joab’s recall to Jerusalem

before the completion of the work, and to the king’s repentance in the

interim cutting off the necessity of completing it. This little agrees,

however, with the resolute tone and assigned reason contained in this

verse. Peele’s explanation, meantime, explains nothing in respect of the

statement that the king’s word was abominable to Joab.


7 “And God was displeased with this thing; therefore He smote Israel.”

These last two words serve simply to summarize in the first instance what the

compiler is about to rehearse at greater length. The parallel place shows, “And

David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people” (II Samuel

24:10).  Some better power occasioned that smiting.  Reflection brought to David’s

heart and conscience (I Samuel 24:5), as often to those of others, restored vitality.

The exact circumstances or providences, however, which roused into action the

conscience of David are not stated. The second clause of our verse cannot refer

to any preliminary smiting, but to the oncoming visitation of pestilence. It is

noticeable, if only as a coincidence, that II Samuel 24:11 opens with a similarly

ambiguously placed clause, “For when David was up in the morning, the

word of the Lord came to the Prophet Gad,” although this is explainable

simply as our insufficient Authorized Version rendering. However, failing any

external cause, the beginning of v. 10 in this same parallel place may intimate the

adequate account of all in the spontaneous stirring of David’s conscience -

“the bitter thoughts of conscience born.” In these two verses we suddenly

come upon the name “God” instead of “the Lord,” i.e. Jehovah.


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.”



Contrition (v.8)


David was a man who both sinned grievously and repented bitterly. If we

have nowhere more striking examples than in his life of human frailty, we

have nowhere more than in his recorded experience an example of anguish

and of penitence for sin. Witness the state of mind manifested in Psalm 51.

We have in this most touching verse:


  • CONFESSION OF SIN. This language may be regarded as a model of

sincerely uttered confession.


Ø      It was offered to God. “David said unto God.” So in Psalm 51:4,

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Not against society, not

against the state; but against the Searcher of hearts and the Judge

of all.


Ø      It was a taking to himself of the guilt. “I have sinned.” Instead

of laying the blame upon another, the king accepted it for himself.

It is a sad thing when men take excuses into the presence of God.


Ø      David had a just sense of the heinousness of his sin. He felt that he

had sinned greatly. It was not in his view a light thing of which he

had been guilty. How can we, as Christians, regard sin as a light

matter, when we remember that sin brought our HOLY SAVIOUR,



Ø      The folly of sin was very apparent to David’s mind when he poured

out his soul in contrite confessions before the Lord. “I have done

very foolishly.”


  • ENTREATY FOR PARDON. It would be a sad case, indeed, if, when

the sinner acknowledged his errors and faults, he did so with no hope or

expectation of grace and forgiveness. But David knew that God was a

God delighting in mercy and ready to forgive (“but there is

forgiveness with thee…..with the Lord there is mercy and plenteous

redemption” – Psalm 130:4,7).   Accordingly he added to his

confession this entreaty: “I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy

servant” (v.8).  What abundant encouragement have we to present a prayer

like this! (“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that

we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need”

(Hebrews 4:16).  The revelation of God’s character, the provision of a Divine

Redeemer, the promises of a welcome gospel, all alike induce us to come

unto God in the attitude, not only of sinners, but of suppliants, beseeching

of Him a favorable reception, and the extension to us as sinners of His

clemency and grace.


9  And the LORD spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,” - The parallel place

says, “The Prophet Gad (aybiN;h}), David’s seer” (II Samuel 24:11). The Hebrew

word here used in both passages for “seer,” is hz,jo, in place of the word of higher

import, ha,roh;, the use of which is confined to Samuel, Hanani, and to the person

spoken of in Isaiah 30:10. In this last passage our Authorized Version translates

“prophet” while in ch.29:29 our Authorized Version translates both Hebrew names

in the very same verse by the one English word “seer.” Gad was, perhaps, a pupil

of David, and was the successor of Samuel (ch.9:22) in this office.


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;”  - The parallel place has, in our Hebrew

text, “seven” instead of “three.” But the Septuagint indicates this to be but

a corruption of a later text; for it reads” three,” as here. The parallel place

shows no mention of the destroying angel here spoken of. The three

inflictions of famine, sword, pestilence, are found not unfrequently

elsewhere in Scripture (see Deuteronomy 28:21-25; Ezekiel 14:21;

Revelation 6:4-8) -  “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” – The simple text is

“Now see,” in place of “Now know and see” of the parallel passage -

 “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.”  It is in such answers as these —

answers of equal piety and practical wisdom, that the difference is often

visible between the man radically bad, and the man good at heart and the

child of grace, even when fallen into the deepest depth of sin.



Falling into the Hand of the Lord (v.13)


There is something very simple and touching in this expression. “The hand

of the Lord” is, for the most part, mentioned in Scripture as the emblem of

God’s protecting, upholding, preserving power. Here it indicates

chastisement. How truly submissive and filial was the spirit which was

manifested in this petition! Whether God’s hand was raised to deliver or to

smite, His servant was content — so that it was God’s.



OFFENDERS. Some unthinking persons may wonder why, if the sinner be

penitent and the sin forgiven, there should be any necessity for punishment

at all. But facts cannot be explained away. The great Lord and Judge of all

does sometimes, as in the instance before us, permit the sinner to endure

temporal consequences of sin, although His anger is turned away from the

repentant heart. God thus avenges His own Law, upholds His own

authority, shows Himself a righteous Sovereign and Ruler.



DIVINE CHASTISEMENT. An alternative of punishment is not

God’s usual offer to repenting sinners. There is much to commend

in the choice which David made when Gad, at the Lord’s command,

permitted the king to elect one form of penalty rather than another. David

referred the matter wholly into “the hand” of a wise and merciful God.

There are many reasons why we should thus submit when the Lord chastens.


Ø      God is the All-merciful. For this reason His people may well be

content to “fall into His hand.” “Very great are His mercies”

(v.13).  He is “merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity,

 transgression, and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).  His character, His

promises, and especially His “unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians

9:15), should encourage us to lay aside all rebellion, murmuring,

 and fear, and to submit with patience, and “endure chastening”

(Hebrews 12:7).  It is, no doubt, in His power to punish with far

greater severity than any human enemy is capable of doing. But whilst

“the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Proverbs 12:10),

the mercy of God is boundless as His nature.


Ø      God knows, not only the sin, but the repentance by which

it it followed.  He reads the heart, and hears the sighs, and marks

the tears of every contrite penitent. He sees when a deep impression

of the sinfulness of sin has been produced. He knew that though

David was a great sinner, he was a sincere, submissive, and

lowly penitent. He makes a distinction between the punishment

which is a mark of His righteous displeasure with the sin, and that

which is needed to bring the offender to a just sense of his ill desert.


Ø      God tempers His chastisements with Divine consolations and

support.  He does not desert His children, even in their deserved

distresses. He is with them in the furnace. When they are ready to

sink beneath their merited sorrows, lo! His everlasting arms are found

to be underneath them.  (Deuteronomy 33:27)


Ø      God designs, by all His chastening, to secure His peoples

spiritual good. He afflicts, not for His pleasure, but for our profit

(Hebrews 12:10.  His purpose is that we may “bring forth the

 peaceable fruits of righteousness” (Ibid. v.11).  Men may

wreak malicious vengeance; GOD’S DISCIPLINE IS



14 “So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel:” - This sentence is

followed in the parallel place by “from the morning even to the time

appointed (II Samuel 24:15).” It has been suggested that “the time appointed”

may mean the time of the evening sacrifice, and that God shortened thus the

three days to a short one day. There seems nothing sufficient to support the

suggestion, unless it might lie in the “repenting” of the Lord, and His “staying”

of the angel’s hand, in v. 15 - “and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.”

The whole number of Israel, including women, must have reached near to five

millions. On this assumption, the sacrifice of life for Israel would be something

like 14 per cent., or fourteen in the thousand.


15 “And God sent an angel” – It is at this point first that any mention of an

angel is found in the parallel place, but then not in the present form, but in a

sentence which would seem to presuppose the knowledge of the agency of an

angel on the occasion: “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon

Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented Him of the evil” (II Samuel 24:16) -  

“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.”  The verb “stood” is employed here

quite generically. It does not imply that the angel stood on the ground; for

see next verse, in which it is said that he “stood between the earth and the heaven,”

the Hebrew verb being exactly the same. Ornan is the uniform form and spelling

of the name in Chronicles. In Samuel, however, the name appears as hw;n]r"a}

(Ibid. v.20), or Araunah. Yet in v. 16, of the same chapter the Kethiv

inverts the order of the resh and vau, prefixing the article, or what looks

like it, and again in v. 18 the Kethiv shows the form hy;n]r"a}. Ornan, then,

or Arauuah, was a descendant of the old Jebusite race to whom the fort of

Zion once belonged. And the present narrative finds him living on the Hill

of Moriah (Conder’s’ Bible Handbook,’ 2nd edit., 236 [6]). The threshingfloor -

The primitive threshing-floors of the Israelites still essentially obtain.

They were level spots of stamped and well-trodden earth, about fifty feet in

diameter, and selected in positions most exposed to the wind, in order to

take the advantage of its help in the separating of the grain from the chaff.

On these circular spots of hard earth the sheaves of grain, of whatever

kind, were distributed in all sorts of disorder. Oxen and other cattle trod

them. And sometimes these beasts were driven round and round five

abreast. The stalk of the grain was, of course, much bruised and crushed,

and the method is described still as of a very rough and wasteful kind.

Instruments were also employed, as the “flail” (Ruth 2:17; Isaiah

28:27-28); the “sledge,” to which possibly reference is made in Judges

8:7,16, under the name barkanim (Authorized Version, “briers”). These

sledges were of two kinds:


  • the morag (II Samuel 24:22; here, v.23; Isaiah 41:15),

made of flat planks joined together, and furnished with rough studs

on the under surface; and


  • agalah, rendered Authorized Version, “cart-wheel” (Isaiah 28:27),

made of wooden rollers, or rollers of iron or stone, and dragged by

cattle over the sheaves. Egypt and Syria, as well as Palestine, still show

these instruments (see Robinson’s ‘Bibl. Res.,’ 1:550; and Thomson’s

‘Land and the Book,’ pp. 538-541).



God’s Repentance (v.15)


How often, in the Scriptures, are human emotions attributed to God! The

charge of “anthropopathy” has, in consequence, sometimes been brought

against what we hold to be Divine revelation. The truth is that objectors do

not truly believe in THE PERSONALITY OF GOD!   The Bible does

teach us to think of God as a Person — a living, conscious Being, with moral

attributes and purposes. It even speaks, as in the text, of God’s repentance.



WRONG. This is the usual application of the word, but it obviously has

NO PLACE HERE!  The penalty inflicted upon David was a just and

deserved one. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”


the Lord demands our reverence and confidence in all the proceedings of His



  • IT IS THE REPENTANCE OF PITY. We find a satisfaction in

attributing to the Lord the emotions of pity, of long-suffering, and of love.

The spectacle of the suffering nation, and the humbled, afflicted, contrite

king, was one which deeply affected the Divine and fatherly heart.

Repentance arose upon the perception that the chastening had now

answered its purpose in rousing the sense of sin, in bringing the sinner low

before the feet of a justly offended Judge and Lord. When the Lord saw

this result, His heart relented and His wrath assuaged.



the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thy hand.” Pity may be

sincere, but ineffectual. Not so with the Divine King. He utters his fiat,

and “in the midst of wrath remembers mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)


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.”  These verses offer instances,

especially the former, of the shorter narratives not being with Chronicles, but

with Samuel And the longer narrative being with Chronicles is found uniformly

in the cases in which reference is had, whether more or less directly, to the

ecclesiastical or permanent institution of the Israelites.



Sin Taken Home (v. 17)


It is a most pathetic scene. The angel of the Lord, who had smitten with his

destroying sword “throughout all the coasts of Israel,” was passing by the

threshing-floor of the Jebusite. His drawn sword was stretched out over

Jerusalem; yet it fell not, for he was bidden to “stay his hand.” The king

and his princes and counselors, clad in sackcloth, were prostrate in

penitence and supplication before the vision — before the Lord. And David

was taking the sin to himself, and invoking the penalty upon himself, as he

bowed low before the righteous Judge and Avenger. We observe in

David’s language:



MEN’S CONFESSIONS. There is no sign of:


Ø      A disposition to shift the sin upon others.

Ø      Or of a willingness that others should bear the penalty of the sin,

Ø      Or of a tendency to extenuate the guile of sinful action. We observe:





Ø      An acknowledgment of his own offence.

Ø      A submission to the Divine wisdom and justice.


He is willing that the hand of God, that is, the chastening and afflicting hand,

should fall upon him and inflict the strokes which he is well aware he merits.



SUFFERERS. How truly is this David’s language! Under the influence of

deep emotion he speaks, as men are wont to do in such circumstances, the

language of his youth. His poor subjects are, to his view, like guileless,

helpless sheep, scattered and smitten. He implores that in compassion it

may please the Lord to save them.



LANGUAGE. David’s attitude was pleasing to the Lord. Reconciliation

ensued. An altar was built, and sacrifices offered and accepted. And the

angel of the Lord “put up his sword again into the sheath thereof.” (v.27)


18 “Then the angel” – The Hebrew shows no article (see Numbers 22:34-35;

I Kings 13:18; 19:5; Zechariah 1:9). The place where the altar was now about

to be erected was that made famous by the sacrifice of Abraham (Genesis

22:2, 9), and, though less certainly, that known to the priesthood of Melchizedek

(Ibid. ch.14:17-20) -“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.”  This verse is not

found in the parallel place. The Septuagint reading of “king” in this verse,

in place of “angel,” is no doubt an error.  The drift of this and the following

verse is plain and continuous. Ornan and his sons had hidden themselves on the

apparition of the angel, but came out on the advent of David, to welcome him.

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,” –

i.e. the place on which the threshing-floor was made. It was the level summit

of the middle elevated ground of the eastern ridge on which Jerusalem was

situate (ch.11:4-7) -  “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.”  Ornan’s offer to David of the

threshing-floor and all its belongings, as a gift, reminds of Ephron’s offer

to Abraham (Genesis 23:11).  Ornan’s prompt offer of gift was, perhaps,

all the prompter from the desire to render every assistance to the staying of

 the plague. For burnt offerings … for the meat offering. The whole code of

regulations for offerings — sin offering, trespass offering, peace offering,

burnt offering, meat and drink offering — is to be found in Leviticus 1-7.

As regards the burnt offering, see Leviticus 1.; 6:8-13. It was called hl;[O,

from its “ascending” accepted to heaven, or else from its being put up or

raised up (Hiph. conjugation) on the altar; and sometimes lyliK;, from being

“wholly” consumed. The sin and trespass offerings were for special sins,

but this was of a more comprehensive kind and of much greater dignity, as

standing for the “purging of the conscience” (Hebrews 9:14).  The entire

consuming of the sacrifice signified the unqualified self-surrender of him

who brought the sacrifice. It was a voluntary offering, the offerer laid his

hand on the head of the victim, and the blood of the victim was sprinkled

round about the altar. The meat offering (hj;n]mi) is fully described in

Leviticus it.; 6:14-23.  It was an offering without blood, and therefore was an

accompaniment of an offering of blood. It was composed of flour or cakes,

prepared with salt, oil, and frank-incense — the salt emblematic of non-decay;

the oil, of spiritual grace; and the frankincense, of acceptable fragrance. A

portion of this offering was to be burnt, and a portion eaten by the priests in the

court, unless it was for a priest himself, when all must be burnt. Meantime

a drink offering of wine was, in fact, a part of the meat offering itself

(Exodus 29:40-41; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:4-7, 9-10). The

material of the meat offering might be the green or fresh-gathered ears of

corn. The Septuagint translates dw~ron – doron – to bestow gratuitously;

give.   Luther, speis-opfer; and it need scarcely be said that our Authorized

Version meat offering exhibits only the generic employment of the word

“meat” for food.


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.”



Cheap Sacrifice Disdained (v.24)


It is a scene of historical and of sacred interest. Upon the threshing-floor of

the old Jebusite chieftain, the son of Jesse, by his repentance and prayer,

secured the cessation of the pestilence which was desolating the land. The

Divine command enjoins that on this spot where the plague was stayed, an

altar shall be reared to Jehovah in acknowledgment of sparing mercy. The

site is the property of Ornan, who with his four sons is threshing wheat.

When David approaches, the Jebusite bows before him with reverence. The

representatives of “the old order” and “the new” meet together. The scene

is truly Oriental. The king asks for the site; the chief offers it as a gift; the

king refuses to accept it upon such terms; and an agreement is entered into

that the site shall become David’s in exchange for six hundred shekels of

gold. Thus is acquired the land upon which an altar is built, and which is to

become hereafter the site of the splendid temple of Solomon. David’s

conduct and language convey a general principle of universal validity, viz.

that it does not become man to offer, and that God will not accept, a gift or

sacrifice which costs the giver nothing.



OURS. We call it ours, but our possession is DERIVED FROM AND


PROVIDENTIAL GOODNESS!  What have we that we did not receive

from Him?  (I Corinthians 4:7)  - Our property, and our powers of

body and of mind, we have FROM HIM AND OWE TO HIM! 

 That we cannot enrich Him by our giving, this is certain. (The cattle on

a thousand hills is His – Psalm 50:10 – CY - 2012)  But we can please

Him and can advantage ourselves by giving to His people and to His cause.




expressed it in noble and memorable language, when he said, “I will not

take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings

without cost.” Every sincerely religious mind must sympathize with

the spirit here displayed. We are reminded that the widow’s mite was

approved and accepted by our Lord Jesus (Mark 12:41-44).  It is not the

magnitude of the gift, but the proportion of the gift to the giver’s means,

and, above all, the spirit of self-denial displayed in the act of giving, which

meets with the approbation of the Searcher of hearts.



THE CAUSE OF GOD, The King of Israel found this to be so in his own

experience, and the experience of all who in this have followed his example

coincides with David’s. Our Lord has said, “It is more blessed to give than

to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)


  25  So David gave to Ornan for the

place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.”  The only way to

reconcile this statement with that of the parallel place, which (II Samuel

24:24) speaks of “fifty shekels of silver” (i.e. taking the shekel at 2s. 8d.,

equal to about f6 13s. 4d.) as the price of “the threshing-floor and the

oxen,” is to suppose that the fifty shekels speak of the purchase money of

the oxen indeed, but not of the floor itself, which was valuable, not only for

size and situation, but also for its prepared construction; or again, keeping

to the literal language of Samuel, that “the floor and the oxen” are

intended, while our expression, “the place,” may designate the whole hill.

The value of gold as compared with silver was as sixteen to one. If this be

the solution, we should have again an instance of the compiler of this book

seizing for perpetuation the point of greatest and most permanent interest,

i.e. the purchase of the whole place.


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.”

There is no doubt significance in the fact that the compiler of Chronicles

records this answer by fire, unmentioned in the Book of Samuel. He would

give prominence to this great token, as determining, or going a great way

towards determining, the site of the temple. The answer by fire was given

on critical and special occasions (Leviticus 9:24; I Kings 18:24, 38).



Accepted Offerings (v. 26)


The site of Ornan’s threshing-floor, once secured, was without delay

consecrated to the appointed purpose. The altar was reared, the priests

were summoned, the victims were prepared, the prayers were offered; and

then the favor of the Most High was manifested, and the nation was spared.


  • THE OFFERINGS. Those which were presented on this occasion were

of two kinds. The burnt offerings were typical of the consecration of the

worshipper, body, soul, and spirit, to the God of Israel. The peace

offerings were expressive of reconciliation and fellowship with

Heaven.  The appropriateness of both in the case before us is manifest.


  • THE OFFERER. In David’s offering we remark as characteristic of



Ø      His obedience. As appears from v.18, he was acting in literal and

immediate compliance with the direction he had received from the

Lord through the angel. He had learned from Samuel the seer that

“to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat

 of rams.”  (I Samuel 15:22) In this case the sacrifice and the

obedience were one.


Ø      His prayer. David called upon the Lord. He was emphatically a

man of prayer, and it was in answer to his prayer that the plague

was stayed. We learn that his sacrifice was not merely a ceremonial

act, but that it was accompanied with spiritual desires and



Ø      His humility and submission. The king clothed himself in sackcloth

and fell upon his face; and the man who in such a spirit sought to avert

the Lord’s anger would certainly accompany his offering with contrition

and submission.


  • THE ACCEPTANCE. This was apparent in two ways.


Ø      God answered him from heaven by fire, thus showing that the

sacrifice and the worshipper were not rejected.


Ø      “The Lord commanded the angel, and he put up his sword

again into the sheath thereof” (v.27).  His wrath was laid aside,

His mercy was manifested, the people were SPARED!



o       The spirit of David is an example to every suppliant sinner who

deprecates the wrath, and would be delivered from the

condemnation, of the righteous Judge.


o       The offerings of David are A SYMBOL OF THE ONE




o       The acceptance of David is an encouragement to every true

penitent to approach the Lord with confidence, coming in

GOD’S OWN APPOINTED WAY and in the spirit God



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” – David “saw “ this by the fire on the altar, and by the fact

that God, at the voice of the angel (v. 18), had not misdirected him, but

had guided him aright - “of Ornan the Jebusite, then he sacrificed there.”

This means to say that he thenceforward sacrificed there;” and established there

the service of sacrifices. David was so impressed “at that time,” by the answer

given in fire from heaven, that he began systematically to sacrifice on the site

of this threshing-floor, instead of going to the high place at Gibeon, where the

altar of burnt offering still stood. To have attempted to go thither would

not only have meant a long and wasteful delay, but would also have meant

the neglecting of the august omen of the angel present. An awful sanction

is thus given tothis place,” Moriah, and it becomesthe house of the

Lord God,” and the place of lawful and established sacrifice.  (A


MINE! – CY – 2012)


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

inquire of God: for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel

of the LORD.”



Typical, Sin, Suffering, Sorrow, Sacrifice (vs. 1-30)


The study of the narrative before us, together with its parallel, leads, with

little room for hesitation, to the conclusion that there must have been

symptoms in the national character of Israel at this time calling for some

severe check or peremptory visitation. Failing this supposition, we cannot

satisfactorily get over the language of the opening verse in the parallel

record of II Samuel 24. It is, however, undeniable that in both places the

history lays the whole head and front of the offending upon David, and that

the offending was his is corroborated by his own forcible confession in the

seventeenth verse of the present chapter. The brunt of the suffering, on the

other hand, falls upon the people, who were cut down by the pestilence,

and upon those who, from the ties of nature, to say none other, mourned

their loss. This is so entirely the tenor of the history, that our exposition

has no choice but to follow its lead. And we shall therefore unfold the

moral and spiritual significance of the section from the standpoint of David,

counting him the sinner, holding him responsible for the suffering,

watching him in his struggle to emerge from the consequences of his

conduct, and to lift his people out after him, and observing the sanctified

result to which all was turned by THE OVER-RULING AND EVER-





1. Whatever was the exact nature of this offence, we are not at liberty to

discount it in allowing anything for the consideration already supposed,

that Israel was ripe for some punishment, and stood in need of some severe

visitation. This may have been true enough. Yet their leader, their

shepherd, their king, should have been the first to watch each symptom of

the kind, to study them anxiously, to counteract them in place of neglecting

them or of co-operating with them, above all of becoming the actual

EXPONENT OF THEM!   It is for the shepherd to warn, to watch, to keep

the flock. For every station in life there are its own proper duties, and for every

increased and more exalted privilege of life there are its own proportioned

opportunities and responsibilities. This is a moral canon of human life and

society, always, everywhere, and that cannot be escaped in its solemn

obligation. But how far David practically forgot it appears from this

history. It is Scripture that represents it thus to us, that Satan knew the

readiness of Israel to fall, designed disastrous damage to the flock, but that

he saw and used his opportunity with no miscalculation, “scattering the

flock” actually through and by aid of the shepherd. Once this way

ascertained to be practicable in this instance, and Satan knew too well for

Israel that it was the readiest way, the method most trenchant — easiest

for himself, and most humiliating to those for whom he designed harm. A

man’s own sphere, special privilege, particular duty, will always have it in

it to reveal the possibilities of sin, to find the occasion for sin, to enhance

the triumph of sin, and to make it burn with fiercer blaze and more lurid

glare. Many difficulties have been made out of such detail as the language

of Scripture contains here, and in places of similar kind. But Scripture

traverses all these, simply ignoring the skeptic’s misuse of them. Scripture

keeps in the tracks of the undoubted analogies of fact. Israel was ready to

go wrong. Granted; but SO ALSO WAS HE whose highest work and highest

honor it was to watch and to know and to guard Israel from going wrong.


2. David’s sin was the further removed from excuse, in that those who

were second to him in place and authority put him in mind, and

remonstrated with him, and evidently with that earnest, nervous feeling

which should have been at once as good as conviction to him. The offence

was deliberate, determined, and would not brook expostulation. For so it is

written, “The word of the king prevailed against that of Joab and the

captains of the host.” It is the same thing as to say that the word of

intolerant and arbitrary authority was encouraged to override the “Law and

the testimony,” the suggestions of memory, the remonstrances of

conscience, and the kindly spoken, courteous advice of friendly and

constitutional counselors. The man who has it in him to set at naught

certain kinds of expression of disapproval, that tell tales so true to nature’s

touch, has it in him also, so far at least as that humor is concerned, to set

anything at naught. And the impression cannot be resisted that it was just

so with David at this crisis.


3. The offence of David in numbering the people, unrelieved as it was by

any external considerations, offers also a peculiar kind of evidence of the

large infusion of the moral element. It is not, indeed, that the record of

Scripture fails to furnish the grounds on which his action stood

condemned; yet it may be admitted that we feel them to be wanting in

some measure in precision. Considering all that resulted from the offense,

this very thing proves the larger presence of no technical, no mere

ceremonial fault, but of deeper moral fault. Is David condemned by the

letter? He is condemned tenfold by the spirit. On the evidence, we are

bound to find him guilty on the counts of principle rather than of the

violation of positive commandment. Why, for instance, does not Joab in his

ill-disguised disgust (which even grew with his task, v. 6) quote the

commandment, give chapter and verse for his intense disapproval and

indignation? Oh yes, there are sins of the heart, of the subtle undergrowth

of pride and ambition, and trust of self, which far surpass all others in

significance and heinousness. Surely it were enough for the quondam

shepherd-boy, now King of Israel, to be vicegerent of the King of kings?

But David has slipped the charm of modest love and reverent fear and

devoted religious service, and aims to be ruler in his own right. He does

this just as really as Judas Iscariot, the disciple, thought it was open to him

to compass and supersede the Master if he could. This constitutes the

essence of what seems to he held up to view as the unparalleled offence of

David, that he forgets his subordinate place, and presumes to try to steal an

advantage on his own Supreme Master. Does David wish to know the

number of his fighting men? It is perhaps in part matter of pure vanity,

probably in greater part in order to estimate the strength of his own

supposed resources; in other words, to calculate how far he may afford to

dispense with simple, trustful, humble, daily dependence — dependence on

the Lord his God. Nor was the calculating less or less pernicious, that it

was unacknowledged, unconscious.



        DETERMINATION OF ONE MAN (vs. 14-15.)


1. We have to credit David with causing now one of the most dreadful

forms of human suffering. The state of mind which is filled with

apprehension of suffering is itself suffering of the worst kind for any

individual. It is not diminished by company, nor distributed by being shared

among many. It is terribly intensified when a community, a nation, an army,

is the prey of it. First, excited imagination very likely goes beyond the

ensuing realities if they were but left to themselves. Then the facts result

otherwise, and the realities on which the sun in the heavens has looked

down in not a few such cases surpass imagination, even to beggaring it.

History’s very devotee declines to believe. What cries, what wails, what

maddened curses must have rent the air wherever the ear of David was to

hear, whether he traveled or rested, whether he listened or strove to shut

out every sound! When once pestilence walks abroad, it not only kills so

many thousands of its own professional right, but from hour to hour, from

morning to night, it tortures an uncounted number, who “hang in doubt of

their life,” and have no rest, because they “have no assurance of their life”

nor, indeed, of lives dearer to them than their own. And it is this which

David does for the very flock it was his life-work to fold, to feed, and to

shield free even from the breath of fear.


2. We have to credit David with having cut short some seventy thousand

human careers. Even though the nation may have deserved the punishment,

and their crimes have cried for judgment, David has laden himself withal

with the responsibility of inflicting it. So many streams of human life he has

dried up. So many deaths lie at his door. At so many burials the loud

mourners and the low mourners, say it is he who has rifled the home of life

and love, and opened the sepulcher’s dark door to receive an untimely

prey. Youth he has cut down, beauty he has blighted, in their opening

freshest hope. The strong men, the pride and defence of his kingdom, and

the support of its homes, he has laid weak as the weakest. And for the

peaceful or splendid sunsetting of old age he has substituted a horizon

overspread with the gloomiest clouds. This is what one sinful

determination of one man carried through could do, and really did. And it

is a type of many, many an antitype. It is a type not least in this one

element of it, that it did what it never meant nor thought to do, and yet is

to the full answerable for it, because it was not in the path of duty, and was

distinctly out of it. Sin sometimes takes very heavy toll out of those who

do wrong, not because they mean to do so, but because they do not mean



3. We have to credit David’s sin with an incalculable amount of human

grief. Not always, by any means, is he who is gone the one who deserves

most pity, even as he certainly is past the reach of any sympathy, but rather

those who remain, who remember, who grieve, who weep, and not merely

“would not be comforted’’ (Matthew 2:18), but cannot be comforted, for

comfort is not.  To wound human affections, to make hearts bleed, to crush

human courage, hope, life, is surely among the deadly sins, and to be revealed

“IN THAT DAY!” (I Corinthians 3:13; Romans 5:2) - Abel’s blood cried to

God from the very earth, what cries must have reached Him from the

innumerable bleeding hearts of bereft homes now, wrecked of hope and joy

and peace by David!





AFTER HIM. (vs. 12-13, 16-17.).


1. It must be allowed at once that David begins to resume again his better self.

The struggle was the struggle of conviction, confession, prayer, even to

wrestling; not the struggle against these. Although it may be held that there

is some ambiguity about it, yet a comparison and combination of the two

accounts need leave little hesitation as to the real order of things. David’s

heart “smote him” after that he had numbered the people. Never mind that,

it was not quite a spontaneous stirring of the conscience and heart that

were within him; yet there was the fact — branded and seared they were

not  (I Timothy 4:2).  God’s sudden morning call and message (II Samuel 24:11)

roused David from his torpor in the twinkling of an eye. It was upon this event

that conviction, most unreserved confession, entreaty for pardon and

mercy, and in due time intercession, followed. And they followed with no

other calculation than the calculation most instinctive of AN AWAKENED

AND ALARMED SOUL!  The real ring, solemn though the ring was, of other

well-known self-condemnation of David, is now unmistakably heard. Not a

syllable of excuse, not an accent of extenuation, is to be detected in the tone.


2. The struggle shows David in the midst of the very paroxysm of grief,

and fresh from the rebuke of his great Master, to be possessed in a peculiar

manner of the wisest and right attitude of disposition towards God.


  • God offers an option. David declines it. He has already used his own

free will and power to choose once too often. He will renounce it now.


  • In declining to avail himself of that proffered option, he gives a reason,

which shows how accurately he had struck the balance between the

“mercies” of God and the “hand” of man. It apparently now amounts

to an instinct with him, that there was no room for a moment’s hesitation

between throwing himself and people upon the mercies” of God, or 

being thrown into the hands of men. This his strongest impression was

also his correctest, which cannot always be said of our strongest and most

absolute impressions. ‘Tis a great lesson for all to learn, and a great fact in

the world’s history all up to this present moment, that the paternal love is

to be better trusted than the fraternal. THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD is,

after all, A BETTER ASCERTAINED REALITY than the brotherhood

of humanity.


  • At the very time that David is expecting his punishment, and

acknowledging that he is “in a great strait,” he honors God by recording

 a testimony which had come of his own long experience of him: “For

very great are His mercies” (v.13).  The rod often brings us to our senses,

and when only uplifted will suffice to bring a man to himself (Luke

15:17).  But rarely did David — or any one else who had known, loved,

done the truth, but fallen away from it too — recover himself so rapidly

and apparently so completely in all essential respects.  (Except in the

matter of Bathsheba, from which it seems he never fully recovered –

nothing of consequence in David’s life occurred after that – CY – 2012)


3. The struggle offers an undesigned but fine example of an intelligent

acknowledgment of the essence of the principle of sacrifice. When the

scene is gone a little further, and the angel with drawn sword is beheld,

David in an agony of pleading is heard beseeching that “the innocent” may

be spared (v. 17).  He proclaims who are the innocent (so far, at all events,

as his act is concerned); he begs that the guilty one may suffer, and proposes

himself and his father’s house as the justly designated resource for

sacrifice. The “altar and the wood,” ay, and the knife too, are there, and

they shall not want the sacrifice. It seems possible, probable, that not merely:


  • David’s offer of himself for the object of punishment, but


  • the very fact of his idea and suggestion of submitting to a punishment,

all equivalent to sacrifice, was acceptable to God. David’s importunate

expostulation, intercession, prayer — three in one — contain implicitly

the principle of sacrifice. And it is observable that it is from that moment

that David is authorized, and indeed ordered, to seek a place of sacrifice,

and to erect an altar of sacrifice. Thus in the struggle to purge himself

as far as possible of his offense, and at least to extricate his people from

the fierceness of plague and suffering, he rises to this point of view, to

entreat that on himself and his father’s house may be concentrated the

punishment now falling far and wide on a nation.





                           OVERRULED. (vs. 26-30.)


1. Some of these results were of special significance in the then time of day, and

for the people of Israel. Others are of SIGNIFICANCE FOR ALL AGES!

For the thousandth time were shown forth these things — the loving

fatherly heart of God, the hand that forbore, the yearning pity that

“repented” because of its own tenderness of even the most deserved

chastisement. Touching indeed is the language of v. 15. So in older time

the Lord Himself to the angel, and the angel to Abraham, had cried,

“Forbear; it is enough.” But not so when that dreader scene gathered in its

fulness over Jerusalem. Though twelve legions of angels looked on (Matthew

26:53), and might have come to the rescue, no voice said “Forbear;” and

the only voice that did then speak as with authority — authority

notwithstanding what it must say and how it must say it — said this,

“Not my will be done” (Luke 22:42); and again, “It is finished” (John




2. The stricter typical principle of sacrifice was led up to, and an instance

of it exhibited. Blood flows for sin, and the blood of those who were so far

forth innocent was now flowing for sin. And this doubtless, though it fell

on the innocent, was the punishment of sin. But we see David

acknowledge the principle that sacrifice may avail to stay the punishment.

He, however, viewed, and justly viewed, himself as the guilty, and

therefore as the one who ought to suffer. He does not come before us as

an instance of the innocent proposing to suffer in the place of the guilty.

The issue is that the sacrifices of the Law were offered in great abundance.


3. By auguries memorable and solemn an altar of sacrifice and a place of

worship were designated. They became consecrate for the service of a

thousand years at one stretch, and for what more to come we know not.

Though we must fail to realize what seemed to David and to Israel greatest

in this, yet analogies of the most intrinsic kind guide us in the same

direction. Meantime not the grandest building we may raise and dedicate to

the worship and glory of God, to the love and service of Jesus, need mean

either more or less to us than that site and that altar meant to David and

Israel. And, on the other hand, it may with equal truth be said that the

humblest building, the least pretentious schoolroom for the service of

Christ, means more for knowledge, for heavenly light, for real beauty, than

David and the temple, and Solomon and “all his glory.”



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