1Satan interfered to cause trouble for Israel. He provoked David to do a census of Israel.
2So David told Joab and the army commanders, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so I can have a total number.”
3But Joab replied, “May the Lord multiply his people a hundred times over. Your Majesty, aren't they all your subjects? Why do you want to do this? Why should you make Israel guilty?”
4But the king was adamant so Joab left and went all over Israel. Eventually he returned to Jerusalem,
5and he gave David the number of people censused. In Israel there were 1,100,000 fighting men who could handle a sword, and 470,000 in Judah.
6However, Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the census total, because he disagreed with what the king had ordered.
7The Lord considered the census a bad thing to do and he punished Israel for it.
8Then David said to God, “I have committed a terrible sin by doing this. Please take away the guilt of your servant, for I have been very stupid.”
9The Lord told Gad, David's seer,
10“Go and tell David that this is what the Lord says: ‘I'm giving you three options. Choose one of them, and that's what I'll do to you.’”
11So Gad went and told David, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Make your choice:
12either three years of famine; or three months of devastation, running from the swords of your enemies; or three days of the Lord's sword—in other words three days of plague in the land, with an angel of the Lord causing destruction throughout the whole of Israel.’ Now you have to decide how I should reply to the one who sent me.”
13David replied to Gad, “This is an awful situation for me! Please, let the Lord decide my punishment, for he is so merciful. Don't let me be punished by people.”
14So the Lord a plague on Israel, and 70,000 Israelites died.
15God also sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But just as the angel was about to destroy it, the Lord saw it, and he relented from causing such a disaster. He told the destroying angel, “That's enough. You can stop now.” Right then the angel of the Lord was standing beside the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
16When David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, holding his drawn sword extended over Jerusalem, David and the elders, wearing sackcloth, fell on their faces.
17David said to God, “Wasn't it me who ordered the census of the people? I'm the one who has sinned and acted wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Lord my God, please punish me and my family, but don't punish your people with this plague.”
18Then the angel of the Lord told Gad to tell David to go and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
19So David went and did what Gad had told him in the name of the Lord.
20Ornan was busy threshing wheat. He turned around and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him went and hid.
21When David arrived, Ornan looked out and saw David. He left the threshing floor and bowed down before David with his face to the ground.
22David said to Ornan, “Please let me have the threshing floor. I'll buy it at its full price. Then I can build an altar to the Lord here so that the plague on the people may be stopped.”
23“Take it, and Your Majesty can do whatever you want with it,” Ornan told David. “You can have the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing boards for firewood, and the wheat for a grain offering. I'll give it all to you.”
24“No, I insist, I will pay the full price,” replied King David “I won't take for the Lord what is yours or present burnt offerings that didn't cost me anything.”
25So David paid Ornan six hundred shekels of gold for the place.
26David built an altar to the Lord there and presented burnt offerings and friendship offerings. He called on the Lord in prayer, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering.
27Then the Lord told the angel to put his sword back into its sheath.
28When David saw that the Lord had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he offered sacrifices there.
29At that time the tent of the Lord that Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering, were at the high place in Gibeon.
30But David did not want to go there to ask God's will, because he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.