Two great calamaties affected David's Israel during his rule. One was a three year famine. Famine, caused by a lack of rain and consequent scarcity of crops, had always been common in Palestine, but there seems to have occured a period of peculiar severity. There were three successive years of burning skies ad failing harvests. The Lord told David that the famine was a punishment because of Saul, who had attacked and nearly exterminated the Gibeonites.
Another visitation of sorrow came upon Israel in David's declining years. The king commanded the taking of a grand general census of his people. This was regarded by them as a sin. Nevertheless, David insisted, and the count was made. The prophet Gad came to David and told him that the Lord was deeply displeased and that an angel of the Lord would send a pestilence across the land. Although David cried out for mercy and pardon, the death angel was sent even into the holy city of Jerusalem, as though to make that the center of the devastation. David and the elders of Israel doubled their prayers to heaven for mercy. David pleaded that he alone was guilty for the numbering of the people. Satisfied, God commanded the angel to cease.
After David declared his son Solomon as his successor, an older son, Adonijah, schemed to replace David. Adonijah drew into his conspiracy some of David's staunchest adherents, including his general, Joab and Abiathar, the high-priest. David placed his trust in Benaiah, the captain of his guard, to quell the rebellion. Gathering the troops about him, Benaiah set Solomon in their midst and he was anointed king, and led a procession through the streets. The conspirators scattered in dismay.
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