Summary: Sermon #6 in the Untold Stories of the Old Testament series comes from 1 Chronicles 21 and relates the account of David's Census which led to the deaths of 70 thousand of his troops.
Series: Untold Stories of the Old Testament #6
Date: CHCC: July 1, 2012
Title: The Census
Text: I Chronicles 21
Today’s “untold story” is about King David. I Chronicles 21:21 says this: Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
Two things strike me when I read this. One is that Satan gets the blame for coming up with this idea. The scripture tells us a lot of actions Satan takes against God’s people.
• He tempts (1 Corinthians 7:5)
• He accuses (Revelation 12:10)
• He seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8)
• He tricks (2 Corinthians 11:3)
• He hinders ( I Thessalonians 2:18)
In this case he incited. This means that the idea and the impulse to act came from Satan. He incited David to take a census.
The second thing that strikes me is: What’s wrong with taking a census? After all, we take a census in our country every 10 years. It may be an annoyance, but no one considers it a sin … But when David took his census it was a sin. Why?
The answer can be found in Jeremiah 9:23-24 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. The real question is:
1. Who do you count on?
The sin is not in the census, it’s in the heart attitude. Back when all David had was a slingshot and 5 stones; it was easy to put all his trust in the Lord. But now David was King with an impressive army. Rather than relying on the Lord, he put his confidence in military power.
Israel was surrounded by enemies, and back then it was normal for nations to go to war with each other every spring … as soon as the ground finally dried out from the winter mud. David, no doubt had scores to settle with the pagan nations around him.
His census revealed that he had one million one hundred thousand men old enough to fight in battle. The problem was that He was not taking God into account in this census. Israel was not just any Nation. This was a Nation chosen and formed to be God’s own people.
Remember the account of Gideon in Judges Chapter 7. Gideon started with 32,000 men, and God thinned his troops two times. He finally went to war with only 300 men, and not one of those men lost their lives. God wants His people to put all their trust in Him, not in their own power.
Satan incited David, but God gave him a way out. When David told Joab --- the commander of the troops --- to take a census, Joab saw right away that this census came from David’s sinful pride. Joab’s response was: Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?” 1 Chronicles 21:3
Satan wants to incite us in the same way. It doesn’t matter what the topic is, just so we put our trust in ANYTHING other than God. Have you noticed that it’s easier to put all your trust in God when your bank account is empty than when it’s full. It’s easier to trust completely in God when you get fired than when you get a promotion. We’re all too prone to trust in our own resources when things are going our way.
So what are we counting? Are you counting your money? Are you counting on your 401K or on so-so security? Are you counting on the wisdom of the US government to keep us prosperous? Are you counting on your job, or your health, or your clever plans, or your education? This “untold story” about David has made me stop and think about it. The only way we have any REAL security is to put ALL our trust in God.
David could have avoided a lot of trouble if he had listened to the advice of his friend, Joab. The same thing is true for us. Never think that every idea you have is a good one. We can have impulses from the Holy Spirit, but sometimes ideas come from the UNholy Spirit!
Friends can often see what we miss. We’d be wise to listen to the counsel of wise Christians … especially when we get “dead set” on a course of action. Don’t make the mistake David made. It was pride that caused David to go with Satan’s idea, and it was pride that kept him from listening to the wise advice of his friend.