The Numbers Game


We have been following the life and adventures of David over the past few weeks. This week we find Absalom (David’s son, who tried to overthrow him) has died in battle and David restored to the throne once again. Then something interesting occurs. David gets caught up in a little social media addiction. Well, something like that. Let’s take a look.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2

Out of the blue, Satan decides to stick his ugly claws into David once again and he decides to count all the people under his control. When I first read this, I wasn’t sure what the big deal was. Why shouldn’t a king take a census of his people? However, David must have forgotten God’s stipulation for taking a census. “When you take a census of the Israelites to register them, each of the men must pay a ransom for himself to the Lord as they are registered. Then no plague will come on them as they are registered.” Exodus 30:12 because he didn’t take up any ransom. He was only interested in the numbers. This need to count stemmed from David’s own pride and the desire to see how many people where under his thumb. It reminds me of when my children post a picture to Instagram and continue to look back to see how many people have “liked” it or when they compare how many followers they each have. Apparently, there is even an unspoken rule that if you don’t have a certain number of “likes” on a picture you should delete it of your account entirely because it’s not worth keeping if enough people don’t like it. I’m not sure what is scarier . . . letting others decide what things in your life are worth remembering or having your self-worth being tied up into how many followers you have on your social media accounts.

Either way, it didn’t turn out well for David in his situation.

This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel. Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”The Lord said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’” 1 Chronicles 21:7-9

David’s prideful decision wasn’t going to just go away. He had to decide if he wanted three years of famine, three months of devastation by his foes, or a plague to cover the land. Maybe if we had punishments like that when pride took over we would try to stifle it more and find our strength, beauty and self-worth only in God. Maybe?


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