The record here parallels what we read in 2 Samuel 24. As to “why” there is such a full repetition, is open to personal opinion. Perhaps as a caution and warning to future royalty to be faithful to the Lord in all that He had said and all that He says. That’s good counsel in any case.
Even though we know that Joab ended wrong, he had the mind of the Lord in this particular case and demonstrated that by not numbering Levi or Benjamin’s tribes. He had an understanding that it would bring some type of judgment from the Lord. As a result of David’s authority, Joab followed through with the census; which different numbers are given in the 2 Samuel account.
Gad enters the scene with a prophetic word for David concerning three options of judgment; three years of famine, three months of defeat by his foes or three days the sword of the Lord that would be manifested as a plague in Israel. It’s interesting each of the options were “three”; with the shortest being three days from the sword of the Lord.
David selected the option of three days in the hand of the Lord, knowing that “His mercies are very great”; yet he didn’t want to fall into the hands of man. However the Lord’s sword could inflict more damage in a shorter period of time than the other two options. Seventy thousand men of Israel fell to the plague in judgment for David’s transgression.
As stated earlier, when we rise in levels of leadership, not only is our authority greater, but the impact of our decisions go beyond in impact as well. Pride was the key motivation for David’s desire to have the census taken; yet the consequences or impact of that decision affected thousands of other people’s very lives.
David was quick to repent and followed through with the request from the Lord to erect an altar. David refused any kind of discount on the property, choosing to pay the full price of six hundred shekels of gold. David, even though he was a person who sinned grievously, was quick to repent and seek restoration in humility. We also see into his character in verse 24; “For I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” David was willing to pay full fare, even though he had an opportunity to reap the benefits of his authority and get the property and the sacrifice free.
Upon the completion of the altar being constructed by David, the Lord “answered him from heaven by fire on the altar”. That resulted in the sword being returned to the angel’s sheath and the plague being stopped.
The indication is that David continued to offer sacrifices and worship to the Lord from this site; but because of fear, David didn’t go to Moses tabernacle from that time on.
Correction and discipline are not given so that we will have an unwholesome fear of the Lord; rather that we would have a holy fear of the Lord that would lead us into a deeper commitment to the Lord.
When we’re corrected by the Lord, let us draw closer to Him and not shrink back. Let us increase our time of fellowship and the intensity of fellowship we have with the Lord.
Correction comes as a result of love and commitment to us, not to result in fear.