The First Book of the Chronicles

Chapter 21

David, tempted by Satan, forces Joab to number the people, 1-4. The number of the people being brought, David repents of it, 5-8. David having three plagues propounded by Gad, chooses the pestilence, 9-13. After the death of seventy thousand, David by repentance prevents the destruction of Jerusalem, 14-17. David, by Gad's direction, purchases Ornan's threshing-floor; where having built an altar, God gives a sign of his favor by fire and stays the plague, 18-27. David sacrifices there, being restrained from Gibeon by fear of the angel, 28-30.

1 And Satan stood up against Israel and incited David to number Israel. 2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, "Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan, and bring their number to me so that I may know it." 3 And Joab answered, "May the LORD make his people one hundred times more numerous than they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? Why then does my lord require this thing? Why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?" 4 Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against Joab. Therefore, Joab departed, went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. 5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people to David. And all the people of Israel numbered one million and one hundred thousand men who drew sword. And Judah was four hundred and seventy thousand men who drew sword. 6 But Levi and Benjamin he did not count among them, for the king's word was abominable to Joab.

7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore, he smote Israel. 8 And David said to God, "I have sinned greatly because I have done this thing. But now, I implore you, put away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly."

9 And the LORD spoke to Gad, David's seer, saying, 10 "Go and tell David, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "I offer you three things. Choose one of them so that I may do it to you."'" 11 So Gad came to David and said to him, "Thus says the LORD: 'Choose for yourself: 12 Either three years' famine, or three months to be destroyed before your foes while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the borders of Israel.' Now therefore, advise yourself what word I shall bring back to him who sent me." 13 And David said to Gad, "I am in great distress. Let me now fall into the hand of the LORD, for his mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man."

14 So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel, and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men. 15 And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented of the evil and said to the angel who destroyed, "It is enough. Now stay your hand." And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces. 17 And David said to God, "Is it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? It is even I who have sinned and done evil indeed, but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray you, O LORD my God, be upon me and on my father's house, but not upon your people so that they should be afflicted."

18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and erect an altar to the LORD in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spoke in the name of the LORD. 20 And Ornan turned back and saw the angel, and his four sons with him hid themselves. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. 21 And as David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David, went out of the threshing-floor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground. 22 Then David said to Ornan, "Grant me the place of this threshing-floor so that I may build an altar in it to the LORD. You shall grant it to me for the full price so that the plague may be stayed from the people." 23 And Ornan said to David, "Take it for yourself, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes. Behold, I also give you the oxen for burnt-offerings, the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the food-offering. I give it all." 24 And king David said to Ornan, "No, but I will truly buy it for the full price, for I will not take that which is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt-offerings without cost." 25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight. 26 And David built an altar to the LORD there, offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and called upon the LORD, and he answered him from heaven by fire upon the altar of burnt-offering. 27 And the LORD commanded the angel, and he put up his sword back into its sheath.

28 At that time when David saw that the LORD had answered him in the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. 29 For the tabernacle of the LORD, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt-offering were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. 30 But David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the LORD.


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Chronicles, Chapter 21[➚]