II Sam. 24:1-25; I Chron. 21:1-30
At the beginning of the Israelite nation, God commanded a census to be taken. However, Satan influenced David to take an illegal census near the end of his reign. The probable reason was to determine his military strength instead of trusting in God. His army commander, Joab advised against his sinful idea, but David overruled him and the census was taken.
After the people had been counted, David realized the horrific sin that he had committed and pled with God to have mercy upon him and the people. When one becomes aware of his sins today, he should have the same penitent attitude of David.
God is a merciful God, but also just. He sent Gad to allow David to choose the punishment that would be administered for his sin. David chose to allow God to do as He desired. That resulted in a three-day plague in which seventy thousand Israelites died at the hand of God’s angel.
In order to receive an early end of the plague, God suggested that David offer to Him a burnt offering on the threshing floor of Araunah/Ornan, a Jebusite. The Jebusite offered to give the threshing floor, his oxen, yokes, grain and equipment to David, but David refused the gift. His reason for buying the property at full price has been quoted many times. “No, but I will surely buy it for full price…nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” The Lord withdrew the plague from Israel after David’s sacrifice.