And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in what I have done: and now, I beseech you, O LORD, take away the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.
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George Leo Haydock
David's heart struck him, after the people were numbered. That is, he was touched with a great remorse for the vanity and pride which had put him upon numbering the people. (Challoner)
His sin must have been internal, and probably involved a secret confidence in his riches and power, without referring all to God, (Haydock) or trusting entirely in him. (St. Ambrose, poen. c. 9.; St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 66.)
There was otherwise no prohibition for David's taking this account, (Calmet) which is so natural for a prince, and may frequently prove of great service. (Haydock)
Josephus ( vii. 13.) and others assert, that he neglected to require the payment of half a sicle. (Tirinus; Estius)
But where does God complain of this neglect? and how do they know that the injunction which was once given to Moses, when the tabernacle was to be furnished, (Exodus xxx. 12.) was to remain in force afterwards? Oleaster (on Exodus) says David acted against God's intention, who had promised that...
The characters, then, of rulers are so assigned according to the merits of their subjects, that frequently they who seem to be good are soon changed by the acceptance of power. As holy Scripture observed of the same Saul that he changed his heart with his dignity. Whence it is written, “When you were little in your own eyes, I made you the head of the tribes of Israel.” The conduct of rulers is so ordered with reference to the characters of their subjects that frequently the conduct of even a truly good shepherd becomes sinful as a result of the wickedness of his flock. For that prophet David, who had been praised by the witness of God himself, who had been made acquainted with heavenly mysteries, being puffed up by the swelling of sudden pride, sinned in numbering the people. And yet, though David sinned, the people endured the punishment. Why was this? Because in truth the hearts of rulers are disposed according to the merits of their people. But the righteous judge reproved the faul...