2 Samuel 24

David counts his soldiers

1 The Lord again became angry with the Israelites. So he caused David to bring trouble to them. He said to David, ‘Send men to count the people in Israel and Judah.’

2 So the king said to Joab, the leader of his army, ‘Go from Dan to Beersheba, through all the tribes of Israel. Count all the men who can fight. I want to know how many men there are.’

24:2‘from Dan to Beersheba’ was the whole country. Dan was at the north border of Israel. Beersheba was near the south border.

3 But Joab said to the king, ‘I pray that the Lord your God will make your army bigger and bigger. May it grow 100 times while you are alive to see it! But, my lord the king, why do you want to do this?’

4 But Joab and his officers had to obey the king's command. So Joab and the officers of the army went out to count the number of people in Israel.

5 They crossed the Jordan River. They made their first camp in a valley, on the south side of Aroer. Then they went through Gad's land and they reached Jazer. 6 They went from there to Gilead. Then they went to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites. Then they went to Dan and they continued west to Sidon. 7 Then they went south to Tyre, a strong city with walls around it. They went to all the towns of the Hivites and the Canaanites. Then they arrived at Beersheba in the south part of Judah.

8 In that way, they travelled through the whole country. After nine months and 20 days they returned to Jerusalem.

9 Joab reported to the king about the number of soldiers who could fight. There were 800,000 men in Israel who could use a sword to fight. There were also 500,000 soldiers in Judah.

The Lord punishes David

10 David had counted the men who were able to fight in his army. But now he was sorry that he had done it. He said to the Lord, ‘What I have done was a bad sin. Please forgive me, Lord. I have done a foolish thing.’

11 While David slept that night, the Lord gave a message to Gad, David's prophet. 12 The Lord told him, ‘Go and give my message to David: “There are three ways that I could punish you. You must choose one of them, and that is what I will do to punish you.” ’

13 So when David woke up, Gad went to him and he said, ‘You may choose to have three years when there will be a famine in the whole country. Or you may choose to have three months when your enemies are chasing after you. Or you may choose to have three days of very bad disease in the whole country. Now think carefully and decide. I will take your answer to God, who sent me with this message.’

14 David said to Gad, ‘I am very upset. I do not want men to punish me. The Lord is kind and he forgives people. So it would be better for him to punish me.’

15 So, from that morning, the Lord caused a bad disease to kill people in Israel. It continued for three days, as the Lord had said. 70,000 Israelite men died in that time, in the whole country, from Dan to Beersheba. 16 The Lord's angel was ready to destroy Jerusalem. But the Lord decided to stop the trouble that he was causing for the people. He said to the angel who was killing the people, ‘That is enough. Stop what you are doing!’ When the Lord said that, his angel was standing near the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 David saw the angel who was killing the people. So he said to the Lord, ‘I am the person who has done an evil thing. These people have followed me like sheep that follow a shepherd. They have not done anything wrong. You should only punish me and my family.’

David builds an altar

18 That day, Gad went to David. He said to David, ‘Go up to the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. Build an altar there to worship the Lord.’ 19 So David obeyed the Lord's message that Gad had spoken to him.

20 When Araunah looked, he saw the king and his officers. They were coming towards him. So he went out and he bent down low in front of the king, with his face towards the ground.

21 Araunah said, ‘My lord the king, why have you come here to me, your servant?’

David replied, ‘I have come to buy your threshing floor from you. I want to build an altar here to worship the Lord. Then he will stop this bad disease from killing the people.’

22 Araunah said to David, ‘My lord the king, take anything that you would like to offer to the Lord. You can take these oxen to offer as sacrifices. You can use the wood from these tools and yokes to make a fire. 23 I will give all these things to you sir, my lord the king.’

Araunah also said to the king, ‘I pray that the Lord your God will accept your offerings.’

24 But the king said to Araunah, ‘No, I must pay you for it. I will not burn as an offering to the Lord my God any sacrifice that costs me nothing.’

So David bought Araunah's threshing floor and his oxen for 50 silver coins. 25 Then he built an altar there to worship the Lord. He made burnt offerings and friendship offerings on the altar.

Then the Lord answered David's prayer. The disease stopped killing people in Israel.