1 Chronicles 21:1 Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, and bring me a report, so that I may know their number.” 3 But Joab said, “May the LORD increase the number of his people a hundredfold! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” 4 But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came back to Jerusalem. 5 Joab gave the total count of the people to David.
David sinned against God by taking a count of the warriors available in his kingdom – and all the people suffered. The rest of this chapter tell us that, as punishment for David’s sin, God brought a plague on all Israel and 70,000 people died in three days. Brutal! A key question that emerges from this passage is “Why was this such a terrible sin?”
In short, David’s insistence on counting the warriors available for battle reveals a heart that is more concerned with human capacity than with the power of God. I mean, if God is on David’s side it makes no difference how many or how few warriors he has. God can overcome any odds at any time. As an example, go read Judges chapters 6-8 and learn about Gideon, whom God sent with only 300 warriors to bring victory over thousands of the enemy. It’s about the power of God, first and last. David forgot this so God had to remind him.
In our staff meeting this morning we took a look at this passage together and realized how easy it is for us to make the same mistake David made. We look at what is in front of us and think it’s not enough. If we only had more people, better facilities, more staff, a bigger budget – whatever – we could get things moving. Nope. I don’t mean that “more” might not be helpful, but that’s not fundamentally what is needed to advance the ministry of the gospel. What we need is the power of God at work through people, in the name of Jesus. All the rest is details.
Today I’m asking the Lord to show me where I am trapped in this sort of scarcity thinking – this mindset of “lack”. Where am I counting on human capacity more than the power of God? Lord Jesus search our hearts for misplaced trust. Give us grace to put ourselves, our families, our businesses, our churches, into your hands. Amen.