1 Chronicles 21:1-7
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab. But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel.
When I first read these verses I didn’t understand why God would be displeased with King David taking a census. I thought, what is wrong with knowing how many citizens you have to rule. Countries, including our country, take a census every so many years to determine population growth, changes in demographics, etc. Where is the sin it this?
Then, as I read it again, I realized David was getting the number of soldiers he had under his command. Okay, again what’s wrong with that? Eisenhower needed to know troop strength for both the Allies and the Axis. What commander wouldn’t want to know this? That is vital information for strategic and logistical planning.
I also wondered why David’s top commander bulked at this request. What did he know that David didn’t know? How did Joab know David was committing a sin? Continue reading