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For some reason, David got it in his mind that he wanted to know exactly how many fighting men were in his army. Pride maybe. Sounds like pride anyway. So he called his army commander and said, “Joab, go count all the men and report to me how big and strong we are in number.”
But Joab his army commander replied, “May God multiply the army a hundred times!! And we’re all your subjects. But, why do you want to do this? This is wrong. Why do you want to make us all guilty before God!?”
But David wouldn’t listen. And what the King commanded, his men had to do, so the army commander left and started counting.
Why didn’t David listen to Joab? David listened to Abigail and to Nathan… but not Joab. Why? As you read in the Bible all about David and those around him, one thing you’ll notice is that Joab was not really one who was connected to Heaven and who saw with Heaven-Eyes. He was the brother of Abishai. Joab and Abishai often said or did things that David — a man after God’s own heart — didn’t appreciate. While Joab and Abishai were good and courageous soldiers, David seemingly didn’t find them to be kindred hearts. David still should have been able to hear that he was wrong about wanting to count the fighting men. But at the same time, Joab’s “service to the king” failed David in this situation because Joab wasn’t someone David could trust.
Do you want to know why I’m pointing that out to you? Because if you want to be a good helper in your service to the King and those who belong to the King, then being brave or courageous isn’t enough. You’ll want to be TRUSTED by being connected to the heart of the King — Jesus.
Only after the commander finished the counting did David admit that what he’d done was wrong.
David said, “God, I just did something so bad. Please, oh please, will You take away the badness from my heart? That was so foolish of me!”
Have you noticed what David did every time he messed up? He ran to God. He didn’t curl up in a little ball and feel sorry for himself, or try to fix his problems himself, or try to hide and pretend it wasn’t so bad.
Guess what? You don’t have to do any of that stuff either! David always turned, turned, turned to God softly and with total trust that God is good and right. David said, “Here I am, God. I’m so sorry for hurting You. Please help me change and do with me what You need to do.” We can talk to God like that, too.
God sent Gad, David’s prophet, to him and told him. “God says He’s giving you 3 options for your discipline. You have to pick which discipline it will be.
“The 3 choices to pick from are: #1 - 3 years of famine (no food) in the land, or #2 - 3 months of your enemies beating you up badly in battle, or #3 - 3 days of a deadly sickness in the whole land brought on by the Lord’s Angel.
“Those are your three choices. You pick.”
David was very sorry for what he had done, but he still had to be disciplined. And he had to choose his discipline. It was terribly difficult because all the choices involved a lot of people being hurt from what he’d done.
David got ready to choose. He said, “Since I have to fall, let me fall into the hands of God, for He is very merciful. But don’t let me fall into the hands of other people.”
So God sent a sickness throughout the whole land. Many people died.
Do you think that sounds fair? Well, for one, we don’t have a right to question that. God is God. For two, those who are close to God don’t mind leaving this physical world behind to be with Him. And those who are disobedient and far from God are dead already. For three, whether you like it or not, when you’re a part of a family, especially God’s Family, your sin always hurts other people in the family somehow or another, sooner or later. Please remember that. When you sin, it’s never just hurting you. Someone, somewhere, hurts too because of it.
As the Angel was about to destroy Jerusalem, God did have mercy and told the Angel, “Stop now! That’s enough.”
Right then David looked up and saw the Angel with his sword, and David fell on his face before God, “It’s all my fault this is happening. I asked to count the people. I, the shepherd of the people, have hurt the sheep by my sin. Let Your discipline fall on my household, but not on Your People.”
So the Angel told Gad to tell David to offer a sacrifice at the place where the Angel stopped.