Today I came across this little nugget from the life of King David, man after God's own heart:
Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Take a census of all the people of Israel—from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north—and bring me a report so I may know how many there are.”
3 But Joab replied, “May the Lord increase the number of his people a hundred times over! But why, my lord the king, do you want to do this? Are they not all your servants? Why must you cause Israel to sin?”
4 But the king insisted that they take the census, so Joab traveled throughout all Israel to count the people. Then he returned to Jerusalem 5 and reported the number of people to David. There were 1,100,000 warriors in all Israel who could handle a sword, and 470,000 in Judah. 6 But Joab did not include the tribes of Levi and Benjamin in the census because he was so distressed at what the king had made him do.
7 God was very displeased with the census, and he punished Israel for it. 8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by taking this census. Please forgive my guilt for doing this foolish thing.”
Lots of people struggle with how to interpret these parallel passages, apparently, so I don't feel too badly that I don't have crystal clarity on what it means for me right now. But I've been home today, so I've had plenty of time to let the story ping around inside my heart and mind. Maybe it's a Captain Obvious kind of statement, but this story feels significant to the season I'm in.
I just don't know why. Yet.
Maybe there's something here about the enormous danger in taking our security and significance from — placing our faith in — something other than God. Maybe David, in his position of peace, security and comfort, lost that sense of the immediate presence of a rescuing, sheltering Father God. Maybe he just got bored. Maybe it was all of the above and then some.
I don't know. Yet.