Joab said, “The Lord will multiply his people a hundred times. Are not all of them your servants, my lord the king? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should there be guilt upon Israel?”
But the word of the king overruled Joab.
Joab went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. He reported the total number of the people to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could draw the sword, including four hundred seventy thousand from Judah who could draw the sword. He did not include Levi and Benjamin in the census because the king’s directive was offensive to Joab. This action was also evil in the eyes of God, so he struck Israel.
David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Please forgive the guilt of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, “Go tell David this is what the Lord has said. I am offering you three choices. Choose one of them for yourself, and I will impose it on you.”
So Gad came to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says. Choose one of these for yourself: either three years of famine, or three months of devastation in which you are overwhelmed by the sword of your enemies, or three days of the sword of the Lord bringing plague on the land, with the angel of the Lord causing destruction throughout all the territory of Israel. Now decide what answer I should take back to the one who sent me with this directive.”
David said to Gad, “This puts me in a difficult position. Please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, because his compassion is very great. But do not let me fall into the hands of man.”
The Lord caused a plague in Israel. Seventy thousand men from Israel fell. God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. The Lord saw the destruction, and he relented from this devastation. He said to the destroying angel, “Enough. Hold back your hand.”
The angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between the earth and the heavens, with his sword drawn in his hand and stretched out over Jerusalem. David and the elders, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. David said to God, “Look, I am the one who said to count the people. I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly. But these sheep! What have they done, O Lord my God? Please let your hand be on me and on the house of my father. But not a plague on your people!”
The angel of the Lord told Gad to tell David to go and set up an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. David went up according to the directive from Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord.
1. On what has now been sown
Thy blessing, Lord, bestow;
The pow’r is Thine alone
To make it sprout and grow.
Do Thou in grace the harvest raise,
And Thou alone shalt have the praise!
2. To Thee our wants are known,
From Thee are all our pow’rs;
Accept what is Thine own
And pardon what is ours.
Our praises, Lord, and prayers receive,
And to Thy Word a blessing give.
3. O grant that each of us,
Now met before Thee here,
May meet together thus
When Thou and Thine appear
And follow Thee to heav’n, our home.
E’en so, amen, Lord Jesus, come!