A visitor writes,
"in II Samule 2:2 David said “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.” Why was this a sin? Then in verse 15: 'So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died.' Why were the people killed for what David did?"
2 Samuel 24
1 Chronicles 21
1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
2 For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
10 And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people.
And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
11 For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,
12 Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
13 So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days’ pestilence in thy land?
now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
14 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
15 So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people,
It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
17 And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said,
Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.
18 And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him,
Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
19 And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
20 And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground. 21 And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant?
And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
2 And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. 3 And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
7 And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel.
8 And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
9 And the LORD spake unto Gad, David’s seer, saying,
10 Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
11 So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee
12 Either three years’ famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; 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 coasts of Israel.
Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me.
13 And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man.
14 So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.
It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor 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 unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered?
even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
18 Then the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David, that David should
go up, and set up an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
19 And David went up at the saying of Gad, which he spake 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, and went out of the threshingfloor, and bowed himself to David with his face to the ground.
22 Then David said to Ornan, Grant me the place of this threshingfloor, that I may build an altar therein unto the LORD: thou shalt grant it me for the full price: that the plague may be stayed from the people.
23 And Ornan said unto David, Take it to thee, and let my lord the king do that which is good in his eyes: lo, I give thee the oxen also for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.
25 So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight.
26 And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and 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 again into the sheath thereof.