Verses 18-30 (1 Chronicles 21:18-30)

We have here the controversy concluded, and, upon David?s repentance, his peace made with God. Though thou wast angry with me, thy anger is turned away. 1. A stop was put to the progress of the execution, 1 Chron. 21:15. When David repented of the sin God repented of the judgment, and ordered the destroying angel to stay his hand and sheath his sword, 1 Chron. 21:27. 2. Direction was given to David to rear an altar in the threshing-floor of Ornan, 1 Chron. 21:18. The angel commanded the prophet Gad to bring David this direction. The same angel that had, in God?s name, carried on the war, is here forward to set on foot the treaty of peace; for angels do not desire the woeful day. The angel could have given this order to David himself; but he chose to do it by his seer, that he might put an honour upon the prophetic office. Thus the revelation of Jesus Christ was notified by the angel to John, and by him to the churches. The commanding of David to build an altar was a blessed token of reconciliation; for, if God had been pleased to kill him, he would not have appointed, because he would not have accepted, a sacrifice at his hands. 3. David immediately made a bargain with Ornan for the threshing-floor; for he would not serve God at other people?s charge. Ornan generously offered it to him gratis, not only in complaisance to the king, but because he had himself seen the angel (1 Chron. 21:20), which so terrified him that he and his four sons hid themselves, as unable to bear the brightness of his glory and afraid of his drawn sword. Under these apprehensions he was willing to do anything towards making the atonement. Those that are duly sensible of the terrors of the Lord will do all they can, in their places, to promote religion, and encourage all the methods of reconciliation for the turning away of God?s wrath. 4. God testified his acceptance of David?s offerings on this altar; He answered him from heaven by fire, 1 Chron. 21:26. To signify that God?s anger was turned away from him, the fire that might justly have fastened upon the sinner fastened upon the sacrifice and consumed that; and, upon this, the destroying sword was returned into its sheath. Thus Christ was made sin and a curse for us, and it pleased the Lord to bruise him, that through him God might be to us, not a consuming fire, but a reconciled Father. 5. He continued to offer his sacrifices upon this altar. The brazen altar which Moses made was at Gibeon (1 Chron. 21:29), and there all the sacrifices of Israel were offered; but David was so terrified at the sight of the sword of the angel that he could not go thither, 1 Chron. 21:30. The business required haste, when the plague was begun. Aaron must go quickly, nay, he must run, to make atonement, Num. 16:46, 47. And the case here was no less urgent; so that David had not time to go to Gibeon: nor durst he leave the angel with his sword drawn over Jerusalem, lest the fatal stroke should be given before he came back. And therefore God, in tenderness to him, bade him build an altar in that place, dispensing with his own law concerning one altar because of the present distress, and accepting the sacrifices offered on this new altar, which was not set up in opposition to that, but in concurrence with it. The symbols of unity were not so much insisted on as unity itself. Nay, when the present distress was over (as it should seem), David, as long as he lived, sacrificed there, though the altar at Gibeon was still kept up; for God had owned the sacrifices that were here offered and had testified his acceptance of them, 1 Chron. 21:28. On those administrations in which we have experienced the tokens of God?s presence, and have found that he is with us of a truth, it is good to continue our attendance. ?Here God had graciously met me, and therefore I will still expect to meet with him.?

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary