Our reading today begins with the defeat of Rabbah by Israel. We read in 20:1 that David was not with his army at this battle. Then in verse 2, we read that David was there to take the crown off the king’s head. Hmm. It seems like we are missing part of the story. And of course we are. We are missing the details recorded in 2 Sam 11:2-12:28. A story of adultery, murder, the death of a child, and the birth of a child. Clearly, the Chronicler’s interest is not the Bathsheeba episode, but the victory of Israel, and David in particular. He doesn’t even tell us about Joab loyally calling David to come take credit for the final victory (2 Sam 12:26-28). Rather, he points out the great victory that this was by detailing the great wealth of Rabbah and her king that was now David’s.
Beginning in verse 4, we see a war and a victory. Then in verse 5, the war starts again, and there is another victory. Then in verse 6 the war starts again, and in verse 7 there is victory. The Chronicler may have left out God’s curse on David (2 Sam 12:10), but the effects are clearly seen here. David is a man of war and bloodshed, and we will see that this is the reason God does not allow him to build the Temple (22:8).
Chapter 21 records the same events as 2 Samuel 24. We see here that whereas 2 Samuel 24:1 says God incited David against Israel, 1 Chronicles 21:1 says it was Satan. God is sovereign even over the evil one. In this account, we also see that Ornan and his sons see the Angel of the Lord, which helps explain his immediate willingness to give it to David. In 2 Samuel 24:24, we are told David paid Ornan 50 shekels of silver. In 1 Chronicles 21:25, we are told it is 600 shekels of gold. Whereas one account records the cost of the animals and the threshing floor for the offering, the Chronicler talks about the purchase price “for the site.” He is focusing on the fact that David is buying the whole property. We see in verse 18 and will see in the next chapter that God used this entire event to lead David to the site of the Temple. God took what the enemy meant for evil, and turned it for good.
Palm 30 is believed by some to have been written by David about the purchase of the site for the Temple. The word in the title in our English Bibles for “Temple” is the word for “house”, so it may be a reference to the property he purchased from Ornan. Additionally, verses 1-5 may refer to the pestilence in Israel and God’s relenting from it. It starts with praise of God for His raising David up (30:1). As we have seen, David recognizes that God has raised him to the throne (see 1 Chr 17:16-17 and what we discussed there). Here, David recognizes that God has raised him up and preserved him.
Verse 2 may be a reference to David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 21:17. Verses 2-3 may reference the entire pestilence and relenting by God from Israel’s point of view. Because God has saved them, they should praise and thank Him (v. 4). Verse 5 speaks of temporal chastisement in light of eternal life. In verses 6 and 7 David is confessing pride and presuming upon God’s grace, and acknowledging that God is Who preserves him. When God allowed David to be temporarily chastised (hid His face), it was the lack of God’s presence, not the temporal punishment, that alarmed David.
In verses 8 and 10, David cries to the Lord for mercy (see 1 Chr 21:13). David prays for God to relent in His rehabilitative punishment because David wants to continue to serve Him and praise Him (v. 9). And in His mercy, God has turned mourning into dancing and gladness (v. 11). David’s whole being praises God (v. 12). The word here for “glory” is the same word translated “being” in Psalm 16:9. David ends with a pledge of eternal thanks to God.