BUT GOD WAS DISPLEASED”
Our Chronicles reading today highlights David’s folly in getting Joab, the commander of the army, to total the number of men in Israel’s armies. “But God”, we read, “was displeased with this thing and he struck Israel” [1 Chron.21:7] Why was God displeased? What motivated David to number the strength of his army? The text does not specifically say, but does the strength of an army, from God’s point of view, depend on its size?
Had David forgotten the lessons of the past, such as how God restricted Gideon to only 300 fighting men to defeat the Midianites. The close friend of his youth, Saul’s son Jonathan had, with his armour bearer set out to fight a large band of Philistines, saying, “It maybe the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” [1 Samuel 14:6]
David’s conscience later smote him as he realized he had done wrong. After all his faith strengthening experiences his vision of the ways of God momentarily lapsed. He was getting older and it is a lesson for us, whatever our age, not to let slip our vision of Godly ways as we plot the way ahead in our lives. We must never forget that – we do not walk alone – if we have committed our lives to God through baptism into Christ.
The other lesson is that we are not fighting with literal swords! When we are committed to the service of Christ, we have spiritual battles to fight. Let us never think that the “enemy” – whatever form that enemy may take, is too strong for us, for we do not fight alone.
Another point we to note [2 Sam.24:1] is that God was angry with Israel, so he used the occasion of David’s pride getting the better of him, to teach David a lesson as well as to bring judgement on Israel who may well have become too humanly elated and proud because of their battle successes in conquering their enemies.
As we read God’s word we will, again and again, see situations where God uses human mistakes and follies. He weaves these situations into his overall plan and purpose. We will see that more clearly if we try to step back and see “the big picture.”
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