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2 Samuel 21-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

David Avenges the Gibeonites

21 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord. And the Lord said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?” The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?” They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.” And the king said, “I will give them.”

But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of the Lord that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab[a] the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the Lord, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.

10 Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. 11 When David was told what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done, 12 David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan from the men of Jabesh-gilead, who had stolen them from the public square of Beth-shan, where the Philistines had hanged them, on the day the Philistines killed Saul on Gilboa. 13 And he brought up from there the bones of Saul and the bones of his son Jonathan; and they gathered the bones of those who were hanged. 14 And they buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the land of Benjamin in Zela, in the tomb of Kish his father. And they did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land.

War with the Philistines

15 There was war again between the Philistines and Israel, and David went down together with his servants, and they fought against the Philistines. And David grew weary. 16 And Ishbi-benob, one of the descendants of the giants, whose spear weighed three hundred shekels[b] of bronze, and who was armed with a new sword, thought to kill David. 17 But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid and attacked the Philistine and killed him. Then David's men swore to him, “You shall no longer go out with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.”

18 After this there was again war with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbecai the Hushathite struck down Saph, who was one of the descendants of the giants. 19 And there was again war with the Philistines at Gob, and Elhanan the son of Jaare-oregim, the Bethlehemite, struck down Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver's beam.[c] 20 And there was again war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number, and he also was descended from the giants. 21 And when he taunted Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimei, David's brother, struck him down. 22 These four were descended from the giants in Gath, and they fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.

David's Song of Deliverance

22 And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said,

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
    my[d] God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation,
    my stronghold and my refuge,
    my savior; you save me from violence.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
    and I am saved from my enemies.

“For the waves of death encompassed me,
    the torrents of destruction assailed me;[e]
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
    to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
    and my cry came to his ears.

“Then the earth reeled and rocked;
    the foundations of the heavens trembled
    and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,[f]
    and devouring fire from his mouth;
    glowing coals flamed forth from him.
10 He bowed the heavens and came down;
    thick darkness was under his feet.
11 He rode on a cherub and flew;
    he was seen on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness around him his canopy,
    thick clouds, a gathering of water.
13 Out of the brightness before him
    coals of fire flamed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven,
    and the Most High uttered his voice.
15 And he sent out arrows and scattered them;
    lightning, and routed them.
16 Then the channels of the sea were seen;
    the foundations of the world were laid bare,
at the rebuke of the Lord,
    at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

17 “He sent from on high, he took me;
    he drew me out of many waters.
18 He rescued me from my strong enemy,
    from those who hated me,
    for they were too mighty for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a broad place;
    he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

21 “The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord
    and have not wickedly departed from my God.
23 For all his rules were before me,
    and from his statutes I did not turn aside.
24 I was blameless before him,
    and I kept myself from guilt.
25 And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to my cleanness in his sight.

26 “With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
27 with the purified you deal purely,
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
28 You save a humble people,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.
29 For you are my lamp, O Lord,
    and my God lightens my darkness.
30 For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
31 This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

32 “For who is God, but the Lord?
    And who is a rock, except our God?
33 This God is my strong refuge
    and has made my[g] way blameless.[h]
34 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
    and set me secure on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for war,
    so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
    and your gentleness made me great.
37 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
    and my feet[i] did not slip;
38 I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,
    and did not turn back until they were consumed.
39 I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;
    they fell under my feet.
40 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
    you made those who rise against me sink under me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,[j]
    those who hated me, and I destroyed them.
42 They looked, but there was none to save;
    they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
43 I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;
    I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

44 “You delivered me from strife with my people;[k]
    you kept me as the head of the nations;
    people whom I had not known served me.
45 Foreigners came cringing to me;
    as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.
46 Foreigners lost heart
    and came trembling[l] out of their fortresses.

47 “The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
    and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,
48 the God who gave me vengeance
    and brought down peoples under me,
49 who brought me out from my enemies;
    you exalted me above those who rose against me;
    you delivered me from men of violence.

50 “For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
    and sing praises to your name.
51 Great salvation he brings[m] to his king,
    and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
    to David and his offspring forever.”

The Last Words of David

23 Now these are the last words of David:

The oracle of David, the son of Jesse,
    the oracle of the man who was raised on high,
the anointed of the God of Jacob,
    the sweet psalmist of Israel:[n]

“The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me;
    his word is on my tongue.
The God of Israel has spoken;
    the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
    ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
    like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
    like rain[o] that makes grass to sprout from the earth.

“For does not my house stand so with God?
    For he has made with me an everlasting covenant,
    ordered in all things and secure.
For will he not cause to prosper
    all my help and my desire?
But worthless men[p] are all like thorns that are thrown away,
    for they cannot be taken with the hand;
but the man who touches them
    arms himself with iron and the shaft of a spear,
    and they are utterly consumed with fire.”[q]

David's Mighty Men

These are the names of the mighty men whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the three.[r] He wielded his spear[s] against eight hundred whom he killed at one time.

And next to him among the three mighty men was Eleazar the son of Dodo, son of Ahohi. He was with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there for battle, and the men of Israel withdrew. 10 He rose and struck down the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clung to the sword. And the Lord brought about a great victory that day, and the men returned after him only to strip the slain.

11 And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi,[t] where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. 12 But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the Lord worked a great victory.

13 And three of the thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. 15 And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” 16 Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord 17 and said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.

18 Now Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief of the thirty.[u] And he wielded his spear against three hundred men[v] and killed them and won a name beside the three. 19 He was the most renowned of the thirty[w] and became their commander, but he did not attain to the three.

20 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was a valiant man[x] of Kabzeel, a doer of great deeds. He struck down two ariels[y] of Moab. He also went down and struck down a lion in a pit on a day when snow had fallen. 21 And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome man. The Egyptian had a spear in his hand, but Benaiah went down to him with a staff and snatched the spear out of the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and won a name beside the three mighty men. 23 He was renowned among the thirty, but he did not attain to the three. And David set him over his bodyguard.

24 Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem, 25 Shammah of Harod, Elika of Harod, 26 Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh of Tekoa, 27 Abiezer of Anathoth, Mebunnai the Hushathite, 28 Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai of Netophah, 29 Heleb the son of Baanah of Netophah, Ittai the son of Ribai of Gibeah of the people of Benjamin, 30 Benaiah of Pirathon, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash, 31 Abi-albon the Arbathite, Azmaveth of Bahurim, 32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Jashen, Jonathan, 33 Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite, 34 Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai of Maacah, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite, 35 Hezro[z] of Carmel, Paarai the Arbite, 36 Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite, 37 Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai of Beeroth, the armor-bearer of Joab the son of Zeruiah, 38 Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, 39 Uriah the Hittite: thirty-seven in all.

David's Census

24 Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army,[aa] who was with him, “Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.” But Joab said to the king, “May the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it, but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” But the king's word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to number the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan and began from Aroer,[ab] and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites;[ac] and they came to Dan, and from Dan[ad] they went around to Sidon, and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beersheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to the king: in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000.

The Lord's Judgment of David's Sin

10 But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer[ae] you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three[af] years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”

15 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning until the appointed time. And there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men. 16 And when the angel stretched out his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the calamity and said to the angel who was working destruction among the people, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. 17 Then David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel who was striking the people, and said, “Behold, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand be against me and against my father's house.”

David Builds an Altar

18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up at Gad's word, as the Lord commanded. 20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. 21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels[ag] of silver. 25 And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Samuel 21:8 Two Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts Michal
  2. 2 Samuel 21:16 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
  3. 2 Samuel 21:19 Contrast 1 Chronicles 20:5, which may preserve the original reading
  4. 2 Samuel 22:3 Septuagint (compare Psalm 18:2); Hebrew lacks my
  5. 2 Samuel 22:5 Or terrified me
  6. 2 Samuel 22:9 Or in his wrath
  7. 2 Samuel 22:33 Or his; also verse 34
  8. 2 Samuel 22:33 Compare Psalm 18:32; Hebrew he has blamelessly set my way free, or he has made my way spring up blamelessly
  9. 2 Samuel 22:37 Hebrew ankles
  10. 2 Samuel 22:41 Or You gave me my enemies' necks
  11. 2 Samuel 22:44 Septuagint with the peoples
  12. 2 Samuel 22:46 Compare Psalm 18:45; Hebrew equipped themselves
  13. 2 Samuel 22:51 Or He is a tower of salvation
  14. 2 Samuel 23:1 Or the favorite of the songs of Israel
  15. 2 Samuel 23:4 Hebrew from rain
  16. 2 Samuel 23:6 Hebrew worthlessness
  17. 2 Samuel 23:7 Hebrew consumed with fire in the sitting
  18. 2 Samuel 23:8 Or of the captains
  19. 2 Samuel 23:8 Compare 1 Chronicles 11:11; the meaning of the Hebrew expression is uncertain
  20. 2 Samuel 23:11 Or gathered together as a camp
  21. 2 Samuel 23:18 Two Hebrew manuscripts, Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts three
  22. 2 Samuel 23:18 Or slain ones
  23. 2 Samuel 23:19 Compare 1 Chronicles 11:21; Hebrew Was he the most renowned of the three?
  24. 2 Samuel 23:20 Or the son of Ishhai
  25. 2 Samuel 23:20 The meaning of the word ariel is unknown
  26. 2 Samuel 23:35 Or Hezrai
  27. 2 Samuel 24:2 Septuagint to Joab and the commanders of the army
  28. 2 Samuel 24:5 Septuagint; Hebrew encamped in Aroer
  29. 2 Samuel 24:6 Septuagint; Hebrew to the land of Tahtim-hodshi
  30. 2 Samuel 24:6 Septuagint; Hebrew they came to Dan-jaan and
  31. 2 Samuel 24:12 Or hold over
  32. 2 Samuel 24:13 Compare 1 Chronicles 21:12, Septuagint; Hebrew seven
  33. 2 Samuel 24:24 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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