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1 Chronicles 21:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

All they of Israel were a thousand thousand - Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand - In the parallel place, 2 Samuel 24:9; (note), the men of Israel are reckoned eight hundred thousand, and the men of Judah five hundred thousand.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

In 2 Samuel 24:9 the numbers are different. The explanation there given is not so generally accepted as the supposition that the numbers have, in one passage or the other (or possibly in both), suffered corruption.

Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3 (EGW), 1127

1-13 (2 Samuel 24:1-14). David Trusted Himself to God's Mercies—The work of numbering Israel is not fully completed before David feels convicted that he has committed a great sin against God. He sees his error, and humbles himself before God, confessing his great sin in foolishly numbering the people. But his repentance came too late. The word had already gone forth from the Lord to His faithful prophet, to carry a message to David, and offer him his choice of punishments for his transgression. David still shows that he has confidence in God. He chooses to fall into the hands of a merciful God, rather than to be left to the cruel mercies of wicked men (The Spirit of Prophecy 1:385). 3BC 1127.1

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 747-8

Though the people of Israel were proud of their national greatness, they did not look with favor upon David's plan for so greatly extending the military service. The proposed enrollment caused much dissatisfaction; consequently it was thought necessary to employ the military officers in place of the priests and magistrates, who had formerly taken the census. The object of the undertaking was directly contrary to the principles of a theocracy. Even Joab remonstrated, unscrupulous as he had heretofore shown himself. He said, “The Lord make His people a 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? Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.” The numbering was not finished when David was convicted of his sin. Self-condemned, he “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.” The next morning a message was brought to David by the prophet Gad: “Thus saith the Lord, Choose thee 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,” said the prophet, “advise thyself what word I shall bring again to Him that sent me.” PP 747.1

The king's answer was, “I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for His mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.” PP 748.1

The land was smitten with pestilence, which destroyed seventy thousand in Israel. The scourge had not yet entered the capital, when “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.” The king pleaded with God in behalf of Israel: “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.” PP 748.2

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 92-3

David, in his prosperity, did not preserve that humility of character and trust in God which characterized the earlier part of his life. He looked upon the accessions to the kingdom with pride, and contrasted their then prosperous condition with their few numbers and little strength when he ascended the throne, taking glory to himself. He gratified his ambitious feelings in yielding to the temptations of the Devil to number Israel, that he might compare their former weakness to their then prosperous state under his rule. This was displeasing to God, and contrary to his express command. It would lead Israel to rely upon their strength of numbers, instead of the living God. 4aSG 92.1

The work of numbering Israel is not fully completed before David feels convicted that he has committed a great sin against God. He sees his error, and humbles himself before God, confessing his great sin in foolishly numbering the people. But his repentance came too late. The word had already gone forth from the Lord to his faithful prophet, to carry a message to David, and offer him his choice of punishments for his transgression. David still shows that he has confidence in God. He chooses to fall into the hands of a merciful God, rather than be left to the cruel mercies of wicked men. 4aSG 92.2

Swift destruction followed. Seventy thousand were destroyed by pestilence. David and the elders of Israel were in the deepest humiliation, mourning before the Lord. As the angel of the Lord was on his way to destroy Jerusalem, God bids him to stay his work of death. A pitiful God loves his people still, notwithstanding their rebellion. The angel clad in warlike garments, with a drawn sword in his hand, stretched out over Jerusalem, is revealed to David, and to those who were with him. David is terribly afraid, yet he cries out in his distress, and his compassion for Israel. He begs of God to save the sheep. In anguish he confesses, “I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. Let thine hand be against me, and against my father's house, and not upon the people.” God speaks to David by his prophet, and bids him make atonement for his sin. David's heart was in the work, and his repentance was accepted. The threshing-floor of Araunah is offered him freely, where to build an altar unto the Lord; also cattle, and everything needful for the sacrifice. But David tells him who would make this generous offering, that the Lord will accept the sacrifice which he is willing to make, but that he would not come before the Lord with an offering which cost him nothing. He would buy it of him for full price. He offered there burnt-offerings and peace-offerings. God accepted the offering by answering David in sending fire from Heaven to consume the sacrifice. The angel of God was commanded to put his sword into his sheath, and cease his work of destruction. 4aSG 92.3

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Cross References
David in Conquest of Canaan