David’s Military Census
(Exodus 30:11–16; 2 Samuel 24:1–9)
1 Then Satan a rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan and bring me a report, so that I may know their number.”
3 But Joab replied, “May the LORD multiply His troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all servants of my lord? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”
4 Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and traveled throughout Israel, and then he returned to Jerusalem. 5 And Joab reported to David the total number of the troops. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, including 470,000 in Judah. 6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the count, because the king’s command was detestable to him.
Judgment for David’s Sin
(2 Samuel 24:10–14)
7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so He struck Israel.
8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing. Now I beg You to take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
11 So Gad went and said to David, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You must choose 12 between three years of famine, three months of being swept away b before your enemies and overtaken by their swords, or three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague upon the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should reply to Him who sent me.”
13 David answered Gad, “I am deeply distressed. Please, let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”
A Plague on Israel
(2 Samuel 24:15–17)
14 So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.
15 Then God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem, but as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and relented from the calamity, and He said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand now!”
At that time the angel of the LORD was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan c the Jebusite.
16 When David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between heaven and earth, with a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem, David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell facedown. 17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave the order to count the people? I d am the one who has sinned and acted wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? O LORD my God, please let Your hand fall upon me and my father’s house, but do not let this plague remain upon Your people.”
David Builds an Altar
(2 Samuel 24:18–25)
18 Then the angel of the LORD ordered Gad to tell David to go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up at the word that Gad had spoken in the name of the LORD.
20 Now Ornan was threshing wheat when he turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 David came to Ornan, and when Ornan looked out and saw David, he left the threshing floor and bowed facedown before David.
22 Then David said to Ornan, “Grant me the site of this threshing floor, that I may build an altar to the LORD. Sell it to me for the full price, so that the plague upon the people may be halted.”
23 Ornan said to David, “My lord the king may take whatever seems good. Look, I will give the oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering—I will give it all.”
24 “No,” replied King David, “I insist on paying the full price, for I will not take for the LORD what belongs to you, nor will I offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
25 So David paid Ornan six hundred shekels of gold e for the site. 26 And there he built an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. He called upon the LORD, who answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.
27 Then the LORD spoke to the angel, who put his sword back into its sheath.
28 At that time, when David saw that the LORD had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifices there. 29 For the tabernacle of the LORD that Moses had made in the wilderness and the altar of burnt offering were presently at the high place in Gibeon, 30 but David could not go before it to inquire of God, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the LORD.
1 a That is, the Accuser or the Adversary
12 b Hebrew; LXX and Vulgate of fleeing ; see 2 Samuel 24:13.
15 c Ornan is a variant of Araunah ; also in verses 18–28; see 2 Samuel 24:16.
17 d Or I, the shepherd, see 2 Samuel 24:17 DSS and LXX.
25 e 600 shekels is approximately 15.1 pounds or 6.8 kilograms of gold.