21 Satan wanted to bring trouble on the people of Israel, so he made David decide to take a census. 2 David gave orders to Joab and the other officers, “Go through Israel, from one end of the country to the other, and count the people. I want to know how many there are.”
3 Joab answered, “May the Lord make the people of Israel a hundred times more numerous than they are now! Your Majesty, they are all your servants. Why do you want to do this and make the whole nation guilty?” 4 But the king made Joab obey the order. Joab went out, traveled through the whole country of Israel, and then returned to Jerusalem. 5 He reported to King David the total number of men capable of military service: 1,100,000 in Israel and 470,000 in Judah. 6 Because Joab disapproved of the king's command, he did not take any census of the tribes of Levi and Benjamin.
7 God was displeased with what had been done, so he punished Israel. 8 David said to God, “I have committed a terrible sin in doing this! Please forgive me. I have acted foolishly.”
9 Then the Lord said to Gad, David's prophet, 10 “Go and tell David that I am giving him three choices. I will do whichever he chooses.”
11 Gad went to David, told him what the Lord had said, and asked, “Which is it to be? 12 Three years of famine? Or three months of running away from the armies of your enemies? Or three days during which the Lord attacks you with his sword and sends an epidemic on your land, using his angel to bring death throughout Israel? What answer shall I give the Lord?”
13 David replied to Gad, “I am in a desperate situation! But I don't want to be punished by people. Let the Lord himself be the one to punish me, because he is merciful.”
14 So the Lord sent an epidemic on the people of Israel, and seventy thousand of them died.
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