Ask most people, “What was King David’s worst sin?” and they will say “His affair with Bathsheba” (2 Samuel 11).
That is a good answer, but did you know that in terms of impact on the kingdom, the people and himself, David does something much worse later in his life? The event is recorded in 1 Chronicles 21. Are you ready for this? Brace yourself!
“David said… ‘Go count the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are’” (Verse 1).
Whoa, that is crazy, right?
Well, you may not think so but look at how others react to this command.
Joab, the commander of David’s army, asked, “Why does my Lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”(Verse 3).
Verse seven tells us that, “This command was also evil in the sigh of God; so he punished Israel”.
Obviously, we are missing something here.
The problem has to do with where David is putting his trust.
Up until this point, David’s whole life was based on God’s blessings. For example, when it came time to replace Saul as king, no one even thought about David. He was left out in the field with the sheep. God chose him anyway (1 Samuel 16). When he faced Goliath, David did so with the assurance that God would give him the victory (1 Samuel 17).
When Saul tries, numerous times, to kill him, David does not retaliate. Instead, he trusts that God will look after the situation (1 Samuel 18-31). David trusted God because he had nothing else. God was his only hope.
Now, later in his life, David is rich. He has a large army and a strong kingdom. He is a man of power and he thinks that he can take care of himself. Counting the people is wrong because he thinks that his security is found in his own resources.
Unfortunately, we still fall into the same trap. It is easy to think that if I pile up enough money, I will be okay. Some think that if they climb to the top of the corporate ladder, life will be perfect. Others dedicate themselves to the acquisition of knowledge in the hopes that university degrees will provide a good life. Preachers, by the way, still count people. Rarely have I seen a minister “called” to a smaller church (Seems odd doesn’t it?).
If our hope is in anything but God, we will be disappointed. The only real strength we have comes from above. When we find that hope, we will have all we need.
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).