Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, "Go, number Israel and Judah." (2 Samuel 24:1 NASB)
This is yet another passage that causes confusion, discussion, and struggles with faith. The LORD is angry with Israel, but the reason is not stated directly…or is it? This sentence comes right after an entire chapter describing David and his mighty warrior-friends. It speaks of their exploits and heroics. Then, this statement is made about God’s anger. Could it be that their pride is getting to be too much? Have they forgotten the real reason for their victories?
The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, "Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people." But Joab said to the king, "Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?" Nevertheless, the king's word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to register the people of Israel. (2 Samuel 24:2-4 NASB)
The LORD incites David to take a census. This is the struggle for many. Why would God incite David to do something that God will punish all of Israel for doing? The answer is in the question. God would not. God never temps us to sin (James 1:13). God caused David to take the census (2 Samuel 24:2). Therefore, the census-taking process was not the sin. The rebellion against God took place before the census.
Having gone through the entire land for nine months and twenty days, they returned to Jerusalem. Joab reported the number of people to the king. There were 800,000 capable warriors in Israel who could handle a sword, and 500,000 in Judah. (2 Samuel 24:8-9 NLT)
The rebellion against God was led by David, but lived out by all of Israel. Their sin was pride in their power as a mighty army. It’s easy to understand why they were proud. but they were proud of themselves, not The LORD their King.
How about you? Do you find yourself struggling with pride in things other than God? Do you bring attention your beauty, abilities, education, money, or other parts of your life as being important? Do you take pride in these things rather than give thanks to the King who gave them to you? Do you struggle with pride? Is that a part of your legacy?