David Counts the Israelites 21 1Satan was against Israel, and he caused David to count the people of Israel. 2So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count all the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan.[L] Then tell me so I will know how many there are.” 3But Joab said, “May the Lord give the nation a hundred times more people. My master the king, all the Israelites are your servants. Why do you want to do this, my master? You will make Israel guilty of sin.” 4But the king commanded Joab, so Joab left and went through all Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem. 5Joab gave the list of the people to David. There were one million one hundred thousand men in all of Israel who could use the sword, and there were four hundred seventy thousand men in Judah who could use the sword. 6But Joab did not count the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, because he didn’t like King David’s order. 7David had done something God had said was wrong, so God punished Israel. 8Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by what I have done! Now, I beg you to forgive me, your servant, because I have been very foolish.” 9The Lord said to Gad, who was David’s seer, 10“Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I offer you three choices. Choose one of them and I will do it.’ ” 11So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Choose for yourself 12three years of hunger. Or choose three months of running from your enemies as they chase you with their swords. Or choose three days of punishment from the Lord, in which a terrible disease will spread through the country. The angel of the Lord will go through Israel destroying the people.’ Now, David, decide which of these things I should tell the Lord who sent me.” 13David said to Gad, “I am in great trouble. Let the Lord punish me, because the Lord is very merciful. Don’t let my punishment come from human beings.” 14So the Lord sent a terrible disease on Israel, and seventy thousand people died. 15God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but when the angel started to destroy it, the Lord saw it and felt very sorry about the terrible things that had happened. So he said to the angel who was destroying, “That is enough! Put down your arm!” The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 16David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord in the sky, holding his sword drawn and pointed at Jerusalem. Then David and the older leaders bowed facedown on the ground. They were wearing rough cloth to show their grief. 17David said to God, “I am the one who sinned and did wrong. I gave the order for the people to be counted. These people only followed me like sheep. They did nothing wrong. Lord my God, please punish me and my family, but stop the terrible disease that is killing your people.” 18Then the angel of the Lord told Gad to tell David that he should build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 19So David did what Gad told him to do, in the name of the Lord. 20Araunah was separating the wheat from the straw. When he turned around, he saw the angel. Araunah’s four sons who were with him hid. 21David came to Araunah, and when Araunah saw him, he left the threshing floor and bowed facedown on the ground before David. 22David said to him, “Sell me your threshing floor so I can build an altar to the Lord here. Then the terrible disease will stop. Sell it to me for the full price.” 23Araunah said to David, “Take this threshing floor. My master the king, do anything you want. Look, I will also give you oxen for the whole burnt offerings, the threshing boards for the wood, and wheat for the grain offering. I give everything to you.” 24But King David answered Araunah, “No, I will pay the full price for the land. I won’t take anything that is yours and give it to the Lord. I won’t offer a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” 25So David paid Araunah about fifteen pounds of gold for the place. 26David built an altar to the Lord there and offered whole burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. David prayed to the Lord, and he answered him by sending down fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. 27Then the Lord commanded the angel to put his sword back into its holder. 28When David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Araunah, he offered sacrifices there. 29The Holy Tent that Moses made while the Israelites were in the desert and the altar of burnt offerings were in Gibeon at the place of worship. 30But David could not go to the Holy Tent to speak with God, because he was afraid of the angel of the Lord and his sword.
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