1 Chronicles 21
“Now Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1 Chronicles 21:1, NKJV)
There is never a moment when our enemy rests. He is constantly studying us and looking for weaknesses. David had been a very prosperous worshiper, warrior and king. But his success was going to his head. David wanted to number Israel presumably to boast in the size of his army. Now the Law specified how to take a census. Each man was to bring half a shekel to give to the LORD, and then the money would be counted. But David commanded Joab to take the census by simply numbering the people. Joab knew this would bring guilt upon Israel, so he warned David against it. But David insisted on having his own way.
Has someone ever warned you about something you were doing or were going to do? Did you listen? It takes humility to admit where we are wrong.
Joab was right. Numbering the people did bring guilt upon the nation and incurred God’s judgment.
“Then David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.’” (1 Chronicles 21:8, NLT)
This was the second time David confessed a major transgression (2 Samuel 12:13). David was not perfect, but he had a tender heart toward God. Sin is always costly, and this one resulted in the death of 70,000! David wanted to boast in his numbers, but instead they were reduced. David had to live with the thought that his pride had cost the lives of 70,000 innocent people (v. 17).
Pride is a terrible enemy that dwells in our own bosom. We know this because it so easily gets hurt if we feel we have been slighted or unjustly spoken against. Satan can incite us to speak or act in pride rather than humbly entrusting ourselves to the LORD. We are thankful that God has not punished us for our acts of foolish pride as He did David! Nevertheless, we should recognize our own vulnerability and pray that God would make and keep us humble. What do we have that we have not received as a gift of God’s grace?