David sang this song to the LORD after the LORD had rescued him from all his enemies and from Saul.
These are the words he sang: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the strength of my salvation, and my stronghold, my high tower, my savior, the one who saves me from violence.
I will call on the LORD, who is worthy of praise, for he saves me from my enemies.
"The waves of death surrounded me; the floods of destruction swept over me.
The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face.
But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I called to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached his ears.
"Then the earth quaked and trembled; the foundations of the heavens shook; they quaked because of his anger.
Smoke poured from his nostrils; fierce flames leaped from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.
Mounted on a mighty angel, he flew, soaring on the wings of the wind.
He shrouded himself in darkness, veiling his approach with dense rain clouds.
A great brightness shone before him, and bolts of lightning blazed forth.
The LORD thundered from heaven; the Most High gave a mighty shout.
He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies; his lightning flashed, and they were confused.
Then at the command of the LORD, at the blast of his breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare.
"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He delivered me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.
They attacked me at a moment when I was weakest, but the LORD upheld me.
He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right; he compensated me because of my innocence.
For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil.
For all his laws are constantly before me; I have never abandoned his principles.
I am blameless before God; I have kept myself from sin.
The LORD rewarded me for doing right, because of my innocence in his sight.
"To the faithful you show yourself faithful; to those with integrity you show integrity.
To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the wicked you show yourself hostile.
You rescue those who are humble, but your eyes are on the proud to humiliate them.
O LORD, you are my light; yes, LORD, you light up my darkness.
In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.
"As for God, his way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?
God is my strong fortress; he has made my way safe.
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights.
He prepares me for battle; he strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze.
You have given me the shield of your salvation; your help has made me great.
You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.
"I chased my enemies and destroyed them; I did not stop until they were conquered.
I consumed them; I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet.
You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet.
You made them turn and run; I have destroyed all who hated me.
They called for help, but no one came to rescue them. They cried to the LORD, but he refused to answer them.
I ground them as fine as the dust of the earth; I swept them into the gutter like dirt.
"You gave me victory over my accusers. You preserved me as the ruler over nations; people I don't even know now serve me.
Foreigners cringe before me; as soon as they hear of me, they submit.
They all lose their courage and come trembling from their strongholds.
"The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock! May God, the rock of my salvation, be exalted!
He is the God who pays back those who harm me; he subdues the nations under me
and rescues me from my enemies. You hold me safe beyond the reach of my enemies; you save me from violent opponents.
For this, O LORD, I will praise you among the nations; I will sing joyfully to your name.
You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever."
These are the last words of David: "David, the son of Jesse, speaks -- David, the man to whom God gave such wonderful success, David, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, David, the sweet psalmist of Israel.
"The Spirit of the LORD speaks through me; his words are upon my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke. The Rock of Israel said to me: 'The person who rules righteously, who rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of the morning, like the sunrise bursting forth in a cloudless sky, like the refreshing rains that bring tender grass from the earth.'
"It is my family God has chosen! Yes, he has made an everlasting covenant with me. His agreement is eternal, final, sealed. He will constantly look after my safety and success.
But the godless are like thorns to be thrown away, for they tear the hand that touches them.
One must be armed to chop them down; they will be utterly consumed with fire."
These are the names of David's mightiest men. The first was Jashobeam the Hacmonite, who was commander of the Three -- the three greatest warriors among David's men. He once used his spear to kill eight hundred enemy warriors in a single battle.
Next in rank among the Three was Eleazar son of Dodai, a descendant of Ahoah. Once Eleazar and David stood together against the Philistines when the entire Israelite army had fled.
He killed Philistines until his hand was too tired to lift his sword, and the LORD gave him a great victory that day. The rest of the army did not return until it was time to collect the plunder!
Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled,
but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory.
Once during harvesttime, when David was at the cave of Adullam, the Philistine army was camped in the valley of Rephaim. The Three (who were among the Thirty -- an elite group among David's fighting men) went down to meet him there.
David was staying in the stronghold at the time, and a Philistine detachment had occupied the town of Bethlehem.
David remarked longingly to his men, "Oh, how I would love some of that good water from the well in Bethlehem, the one by the gate."
So the Three broke through the Philistine lines, drew some water from the well, and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it. Instead, he poured it out before the LORD.
"The LORD forbid that I should drink this!" he exclaimed. "This water is as precious as the blood of these men who risked their lives to bring it to me." So David did not drink it. This is an example of the exploits of the Three.
Abishai son of Zeruiah, the brother of Joab, was the leader of the Thirty. He once used his spear to kill three hundred enemy warriors in a single battle. It was by such feats that he became as famous as the Three.
Abishai was the most famous of the Thirty and was their commander, though he was not one of the Three.
There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab's mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.
Another time, armed only with a club, he killed a great Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with it.
These are some of the deeds that made Benaiah almost as famous as the Three.
He was more honored than the other members of the Thirty, though he was not one of the Three. And David made him commander of his bodyguard.
Other members of the Thirty included: Asahel, Joab's brother; Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem;
Shammah from Harod; Elika from Harod;
Helez from Pelon ; Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa;
Abiezer from Anathoth; Sibbecai from Hushah;
Zalmon from Ahoah; Maharai from Netophah;
Heled son of Baanah from Netophah; Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah (from the tribe of Benjamin);
Benaiah from Pirathon; Hurai from Nahale-gaash ;
Abi-albon the Arbathite; Azmaveth from Bahurim;
Eliahba from Shaalbon; the sons of Jashen;
Jonathan son of Shagee from Harar; Ahiam son of Sharar from Harar;
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai from Maacah; Eliam son of Ahithophel from Giloh;
Hezro from Carmel; Paarai from Arba;
Igal son of Nathan from Zobah; Bani from Gad;
Zelek from Ammon; Naharai from Beeroth (Joab's armor bearer);
Ira from Jattir; Gareb from Jattir;
Uriah the Hittite. There were thirty-seven in all.
Once again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. "Go and count the people of Israel and Judah," the LORD told him.
So the king said to Joab, the commander of his army, "Take a census of all the people in the land -- from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south -- so that I may know how many people there are."
But Joab replied to the king, "May the LORD your God let you live until there are a hundred times as many people in your kingdom as there are now! But why do you want to do this?"
But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab and his officers went out to count the people of Israel.
First they crossed the Jordan and camped at Aroer, south of the town in the valley, in the direction of Gad. Then they went on to Jazer,
then to Gilead in the land of Tahtim-hodshi and to Dan-jaan and around to Sidon.
Then they came to the stronghold of Tyre, and all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went south to Judah as far as Beersheba.
Having gone through the entire land, they completed their task in nine months and twenty days and then returned to Jerusalem.
Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 men of military age in Israel and 500,000 in Judah.
But after he had taken the census, David's conscience began to bother him. And he said to the LORD, "I have sinned greatly and shouldn't have taken the census. Please forgive me, LORD, for doing this foolish thing."
The next morning the word of the LORD came to the prophet Gad, who was David's seer. This was the message:
"Go and say to David, 'This is what the LORD says: I will give you three choices. Choose one of these punishments, and I will do it.'"
So Gad came to David and asked him, "Will you choose three years of famine throughout the land, three months of fleeing from your enemies, or three days of severe plague throughout your land? Think this over and let me know what answer to give the LORD."
"This is a desperate situation!" David replied to Gad. "But let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands."
So the LORD sent a plague upon Israel that morning, and it lasted for three days. Seventy thousand people died throughout the nation.
But as the death angel was preparing to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD relented and said to the angel, "Stop! That is enough!" At that moment the angel of the LORD was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
When David saw the angel, he said to the LORD, "I am the one who has sinned and done wrong! But these people are innocent -- what have they done? Let your anger fall against me and my family."
That day Gad came to David and said to him, "Go and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite."
So David went to do what the LORD had commanded him.
When Araunah saw the king and his men coming toward him, he came forward and bowed before the king with his face to the ground.
"Why have you come, my lord?" Araunah asked.And David replied, "I have come to buy your threshing floor and to build an altar to the LORD there, so that the LORD will stop the plague."
"Take it, my lord, and use it as you wish," Araunah said to David. "Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and you can use the threshing tools and ox yokes for wood to build a fire on the altar.
I will give it all to you, and may the LORD your God accept your sacrifice."
But the king replied to Araunah, "No, I insist on buying it, for I cannot present burnt offerings to the LORD my God that have cost me nothing." So David paid him fifty pieces of silver for the threshing floor and the oxen.
David built an altar there to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And the LORD answered his prayer, and the plague was stopped.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)