1 Chronicles 21:1-14 (NASB)
1 Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
2 So David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, “Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring me word that I may know their number.”
3 Joab said, “May the LORD add to His people a hundred times as many as they are! But, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?”
4 Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Therefore, Joab departed and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem.
5 Joab gave the number of the census of all the people to David. And all Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword; and Judah was 470,000 men who drew the sword.
6 But he did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.
7 God was displeased with this thing, so He struck Israel.
8 David said to God, “I have sinned greatly, in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”
9 The LORD spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying,
10 “Go and speak to David, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “I offer you three things; choose for yourself one of them, which I will do to you.”‘”
11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Take for yourself
12 either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your foes, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the LORD, even pestilence in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now, therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.”
13 David said to Gad, “I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are very great. But do not let me fall into the hand of man.”
14 So the LORD sent a pestilence on Israel; 70,000 men of Israel fell.
In v1, we read Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.
“Then” is after ta string of victories for king David, and the adversary stood up or came against Israel in the mind of David with an idea that he would number the troops at his disposal in Israel. This numbering the troops were upsetting to Joab since it wasn’t the troops who give the victory to Israel but Almighty God.
In fact the Lord God was the owner of David as well as the troops and they all were servants of the Most High God.
Perhaps David was getting nervous because he could not lead the battles against the enemies of Israel like he had done in the past. He may be feeling insecure in that his own sons had come against him. In the past, David had wrote that : Psalm 27:1 (NASB)
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:2 (NASB)
2 When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell.
Satan’s numbers game was to replace the Lord as David’s light with metrics or numbers to determine his salvation and confidence of a secure future. This would move David to trust in the numbers for his adversaries and enemies to stumble and fall.
Satan’s Numbers Game In Galatia
11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.
14 But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
15 For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
16 And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.
In the NT we see that at the church in Galatia that there were some members who had took Satan’s bait of using numbers to make a good showing in the “flesh” to compel or manipulate them to be circumcised as those who were under the Law that they didn’t keep themselves.
Satan’s number’s game would change salvation in Christ Jesus from “Divine accomplishment under the grace of God to human achievement under the Law. This would allow “false teachers to boast in the flesh”. This self-centered approach to salvation suggests that the Lord Jesus Christ’s work on Calvary’s cross was not sufficient and our “hope of glory” now rested on the human achievement of managing the “sins of the flesh”.
Since we are unable to keep the Law perfectly or manage the sins of the flesh, the idea of human achievement (humanism) that is “self-centered” will fail. Human achievement involving numbers to determine if our “actions are pleasing God” is not what He is aiming for in our lives. The “bigness” of a congregation does not impress God. Littleness does not either.
The apostle Paul writes that the main thing is not a congregation metrics but Divine accomplishment of the “new creation” in each child of God. (v15)
Rule keeping has it place but not as a means of salvation, sanctification or motivation. A “cross centered life” is the true way home not metrics.
Evangelist -Dr. James Byrd