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1 Chronicles 21

David counts the Israelite men who can fight

1 Then Satan put a bad idea into David's mind. The idea was to count all the men in Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and to all his officers, ‘Go and count the people in Israel from Beersheba to Dan. And then come and tell me. Then I will know how many there are.’

3 But Joab replied, ‘They are all your servants, my lord and my king. I pray that the LORD will make them 100 times more. But it would be better not to do this. You will cause God to be angry with all Israel.’

4 But Joab had to do what the king had said. So Joab left. And he went through all Israel and then he returned to Jerusalem. 5 He told David the number of men who could fight. It was 1100,000 men in all Israel. All those men knew how to use a sword. And 470,000 men who could use a sword came from Judah.

God is angry with David and God punishes Israel

6 But what the king had said seemed disgusting to Joab. So he did not include the men from Levi's and Benjamin's tribes. 7 And God was angry because David had done this thing. So he punished Israel. 8 Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned because I have done this thing. Please forgive me. I have done a very silly thing.’

David chooses how God should punish him

9 Gad was David's prophet. The LORD said to him, 10 ‘Go and say this to David: “You may choose one out of these three things for me to punish you. That is what the LORD says.” ’

11 So Gad went to David and he said to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: “You must choose one out of these things: 12 I might cause three years with very little food for your country. Or I might cause you to run from your enemies' swords for three months while they are killing many people. Or I might cause a very bad illness among your people for three days. The angel of the LORD would kill many people in every part of Israel.” Now tell me an answer to take to him who sent me.’

13 David said to Gad, ‘I am in great trouble. The LORD is kind and he forgives people. So it is best if he punishes me. I do not want men to punish me.’

The LORD kills many Israelites with a bad illness

14 So the LORD caused a very bad illness in Israel. And 70,000 men died in Israel. 15 God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But then he saw the angel start to kill people. And the LORD was sorry. He said to the angel who was killing them, ‘It is enough. Now stop killing them.’ The LORD's angel was standing by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite at that time.

God stops the angel killing people in Jerusalem

16 David looked up and he saw the LORD's angel. The angel was standing between the earth and heaven. He had a sword in his hand and it was pointing towards Jerusalem. David and the leaders fell down on their faces. They were wearing clothes that were not comfortable.

17 David said to God, ‘It was I who caused Joab to count the people. I am the man who has done the bad thing. It was I who sinned. These people are like sheep. They have not done anything that was wrong. LORD God, please punish me and my family. But please take away this illness from your people.’

David buys ground from Ornan and David builds an altar there

18 Then the angel of the LORD spoke to Gad. ‘Tell David that he must build an altar to the LORD on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite’, he said. 19 So David obeyed what Gad had spoken on behalf of the LORD.

20 Ornan and his 4 sons were hitting their food plants until the seeds fell out. They turned and they saw the LORD's angel. So his sons hid themselves. 21 Then David came near to Ornan. He looked and he saw David. He left the threshing-floor and he bent his head to the ground in front of David. 22 David said to Ornan, ‘Let me buy this ground so that I can build an altar to the LORD here. Then God will stop the illness that is killing people. I will pay the whole price for the land.’

23 Ornan replied, ‘Take it. My lord the king may do what he wants to do. Look, I will give the male cows for the sacrifices by fire. And I will give the tools of wood for the fire and the grain for the offering of grain to you. I give everything to you.’

24 But King David said to Ornan, ‘No, I must pay the whole price. I must pay for your things. I cannot sacrifice to the LORD an offering by fire that costs me nothing.’

25 So David paid Ornan 7 kilos of gold (about 15 pounds weight) for the place. 26 David built an altar there to the LORD. On it he gave sacrifices by fire and friendship-offerings. He shouted to the LORD and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven. It burnt David's offering that was on the altar for sacrifices by fire.

The LORD stops punishing the people

27 Then the LORD spoke to the angel. And the angel put his sword away into its case. 28 David saw that the LORD had answered him at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. So he burnt sacrifices to God there. 29 At that time the LORD's tent was on the high place at Gibeon. That was the tent that Moses had made in the desert. And the altar for sacrifices by fire was also at Gibeon. 30 But David was afraid of the sword of the LORD's angel. So he could not go to the altar there to meet with God