Then the Lord instructed Gad, David's seer,
"Go and say to David, 'This is what the Lord says: I am offering you three [choices]. Choose one of them for yourself, and I will do it to you.' "
So Gad went to David and said to him, "This is what the Lord says: 'Take your [choice]-
either three years of famine, three months of devastation by your foes with the sword of your enemy overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord-a plague on the land, the angel of the Lord bringing destruction to the whole territory of Israel.' Now decide what answer I should take back to the One who sent me."
David answered Gad, "I have great anxiety. Please, let me fall into the Lord's hands because His mercies are very great, but don't let me fall into human hands."
So the Lord sent a plague on Israel, and 70,000 Israelite men died.
Then God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but when the angel was about to destroy the city,a the Lord looked, relented concerning the destruction,b and said to the angel who was destroying [the people], "Enough, withdraw your hand now!" The angel of the Lord was then standing at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.
When David looked up and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem, David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell down with their faces [to the ground].
David said to God, "Wasn't I the one who gave the order to count the people? I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly. But these sheep, what have they done? My Lord God, please let Your hand be against me and against my father's family, but don't let the plague be against Your people."