Vol.VI No.X Pg.1
December 1969

Delight In Numbers

Robert F. Turner

2 Sam. 24: records the sin of David in numbering the fighting men of Israel and Judah. The counting itself was not wrong. Earlier in Israels history God had ordered the numbering of the people. (Num. 1:2) But there was a sinful motive involved in Davids census. Satan moved David to the task (1 Chron. 21:1) and God used the occasion to punish Israel (2 Sam. 24: 1). But what was the sin?

Joab, Davids right-hand man, seemed to sense the basic error. He said, Jehovah thy God add unto the people, how many so ever they may be, a hundredfold; and may the eyes of my lord the king see it; but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? (2 Sam. 24:3 1 Chron. 21:3)

Davids pride in numbers was an echo of the sin of the people who desired a king in place of Samuel the Judge. They feared the Ammonites, and desired a king like all the nations to go out before us and fight our battles. (1 Sam. 8:20) But Jehovah had delivered them in times past, and stood ready to protect the faithful. (1 Sam. 12:6-12) Trusting in horsemen and chariots was rejection of Jehovah and His all-powerful arm. (Isa. 31:1-f)

Later David recognized his error and repented. saying, I have done very foolishly; but his sin brought great pestilence upon the nation. Our pride, and trust in carnal strength, are often the unsuspected causes of problems that beset us. And, we are seldom exercised by the punishment. Have you ever heard one pray Father forgive me for counting people, fine church buildings, impressive contributions, etc., as indicative of how well we are doing here.??

The desire to grow in number is not wrong. If true spirituality increases, so as to stay in the lead, our material strength furnishes tools for greater service to God. But sometimes the ones who come out of digression, and suffer hardships as a little bunch standing for truth, are overcome — not by submission to doctrinal error, but by pride. They are worn down because they chafe at the thought of littleness — or growing, they delight in this thing and forget their dependence upon God.