Friday, May 23, 2008

The Cursed Census

May 23: 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21 & 22, & Psalm 30

1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” 3 But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord's servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” 4 But the king's word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. 5 And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. 6 But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king's command was abhorrent to Joab.1 Chronicles 21:1-6

10 But David's heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” 11 And when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, 12 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’” 13 So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall three years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your foes while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days' pestilence in your land? Now consider, and decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.” 14 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but let me not fall into the hand of man.”
2 Samuel 24:10-14

11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
12 that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
Psalm 30:11-12

The Cursed Census

When we sin against the Lord, often our first thought is to hide our sin from those around us; the last thing we want is to see our sin splashed before the public eye. Imagine David's circumstance; not only was his sin displayed before the eyes of the people, but the people were the ones who suffered because of David's sin.

This is an interesting account of Scripture; in a weak moment David ordered the numbering of the people. What was so bad about that? This action showed David's lack of trust in God. Notice that in almost every battle against the Israelites, we are told the number of their attackers. The kings trusted in the strength of their forces to win their battles. It did not matter how many men were in the army of Israel; their strength rested in God.

David's answer to Gad, the seer, shows that David's senses [pun intended] returned to him; He knew that the only grace he might receive was by the hand of God.

What a lesson this is to us today? It is so easy to trust in those around us rather than to trust in the Lord. Like David, in our weak moments, it is easy for us to trust in the wrong things. Is this a big deal to God?

Yes! The very heart of our relationship to God rests in our trust in Him; it demonstrates our true faith in the Lord.

As you think of the Cursed Census, pray today that God would graciously give you the strength to put your whole trust in Him, no matter how overwhelmed or outnumbered you feel in your daily battles of life.

O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

God Bless You,

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

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