20 1-3 That spring, the time when kings usually go off to war, Joab led the army out and ravaged the Ammonites. He then set siege to Rabbah. David meanwhile was back in Jerusalem. Joab hit Rabbah hard and left it in ruins. David took the crown off the head of their king. Its weight was found to be a talent of gold and set with a precious stone. It was placed on David’s head. He hauled great quantities of loot from the city and put the people to hard labor with saws and picks and axes. This is what he did to all the Ammonites. Then David and his army returned to Jerusalem.

4-8 Later war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. That was the time Sibbecai the Hushathite killed Sippai of the clan of giants. The Philistines had to eat crow. In another war with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath the Gittite whose spear was like a ship’s boom. And then there was the war at Gath that featured a hulking giant who had twenty-four fingers and toes, six on each hand and foot—yet another from the clan of giants. When he mocked Israel, Jonathan son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These came from the clan of giants and were killed by David and his men.

David, Satan, and Araunah

21 1-2 Now Satan entered the scene and seduced David into taking a census of Israel. David gave orders to Joab and the army officers under him, “Canvass all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and get a count of the population. I want to know the number.”

Joab resisted: “May God multiply his people by hundreds! Don’t they all belong to my master the king? But why on earth would you do a thing like this—why risk getting Israel into trouble with God?”

4-7 But David wouldn’t take no for an answer, so Joab went off and did it—canvassed the country and then came back to Jerusalem and reported the results of the census: There were 1,100,000 fighting men; of that total, Judah accounted for 470,000. Joab, disgusted by the command—it, in fact, turned his stomach!—protested by leaving Levi and Benjamin out of the census-taking. And God, offended by the whole thing, punished Israel.

Then David prayed, “I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin—I’ve been really stupid.”

9-10 God answered by speaking to Gad, David’s pastor: “Go and give David this message: ‘God’s word: You have your choice of three punishments; choose one and I’ll do the rest.’”

11-12 Gad delivered the message to David: “Do you want three years of famine, three months of running from your enemies while they chase you down, or three days of the sword of God—an epidemic unleashed on the country by an angel of God? Think it over and make up your mind. What shall I tell the One who sent me?”

13 David told Gad, “They’re all terrible! But I’d rather be punished by God whose mercy is great, than fall into human hands.”

14-15 So God unleashed an epidemic in Israel—seventy thousand Israelites died. God then sent the angel to Jerusalem but when he saw the destruction about to begin, he compassionately changed his mind and ordered the death angel, “Enough’s enough! Pull back!”

15-16 The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem. David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough burlap.

17 David prayed, “Please! I’m the one who sinned; I’m the one at fault. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me, not them, me and my family; don’t take it out on them.”

18-19 The angel of God ordered Gad to tell David to go and build an altar to God on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David did what Gad told him in obedience to God’s command.

20-21 Meanwhile Araunah had quit threshing the wheat and was watching the angel; his four sons took cover and hid. David came up to Araunah. When Araunah saw David, he left the threshing floor and bowed deeply before David, honoring the king.

22 David said to Araunah, “Give me the site of the threshing floor so I can build an altar to God. Charge me the market price; we’re going to put an end to this disaster.”

23 “O Master, my king,” said Araunah, “just take it; do whatever you want with it! Look, here’s an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles for the fuel and wheat for the meal offering—it’s all yours!”

24-27 David replied to Araunah, “No. I’m buying it from you, and at the full market price. I’m not going to offer God sacrifices that are no sacrifice.” So David bought the place from Araunah for six hundred shekels of gold. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings. He called out to God and God answered by striking the altar of Whole-Burnt-Offering with lightning. Then God told the angel to put his sword back into its scabbard.

28-29 And that’s the story of what happened when David saw that God answered him on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite at the time he offered the sacrifice.

* * *

29 At this time the Tabernacle that Moses had constructed in the desert, and with it the Altar of Burnt Offering, were set up at the worship center at Gibeon. But David, terrified by the angel’s sword, wouldn’t go there to pray to God anymore. So David declared, “From now on, this is the site for the worship of God; this is the place for Israel’s Altar of Burnt Offering.”

David Charges Solomon to Build The Temple

22 1-4 David ordered all the resident aliens in the land to come together; he sent them to the stone quarries to cut dressed stone to build The Temple of God. He also stockpiled a huge quantity of iron for nails and bracings for the doors of the gates, more bronze than could be weighed, and cedar logs past counting (the Sidonians and Tyrians shipped in huge loads of cedar logs for David).

5-6 David was thinking, “My son Solomon is too young to plan ahead for this. But the sanctuary that is to be built for God has to be the greatest, the talk of all the nations; so I’ll get the construction materials together.” That’s why David prepared this huge stockpile of building materials before he died. Then he called in Solomon his son and commanded him to build a sanctuary for the God of Israel.

7-10 David said to Solomon, “I wanted in the worst way to build a sanctuary to honor my God. But God prevented me, saying, ‘You’ve killed too many people, fought too many wars. You are not the one to honor me by building a sanctuary—you’ve been responsible for too much killing, too much bloodshed. But you are going to have a son and he will be a quiet and peaceful man, and I will calm his enemies down on all sides. His very name will speak peace—that is, Solomon, which means Peace—and I’ll give peace and rest under his rule. He will be the one to build a sanctuary in my honor. He’ll be my royal adopted son and I’ll be his father; and I’ll make sure that the authority of his kingdom over Israel lasts forever.’

11-16 “So now, son, God be with you. God-speed as you build the sanctuary for your God, the job God has given you. And may God also give you discernment and understanding when he puts you in charge of Israel so that you will rule in reverent obedience under God’s Revelation. That’s what will make you successful, following the directions and doing the things that God commanded Moses for Israel. Courage! Take charge! Don’t be timid; don’t hold back. Look at this—I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to stockpile materials for the sanctuary of God: a hundred thousand talents (3,775 tons) of gold, a million talents (37,750 tons) of silver, tons of bronze and iron—too much to weigh—and all this timber and stone. And you’re free to add more. And workers both plentiful and prepared: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, artisans in gold and silver, bronze and iron. You’re all set—get to work! And God-speed!”

17-19 David gave orders to all of Israel’s leaders to help his son Solomon, saying, “Isn’t it obvious that your God is present with you; that he has given you peaceful relations with everyone around? My part in this was to put down the enemies, subdue the land to God and his people; your part is to give yourselves, heart and soul, to praying to your God. So get moving—build the sacred house of worship to God! Then bring the Chest of the Covenant of God and all the holy furnishings for the worship of God into the sanctuary built in honor of God.”

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