“But David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people. And David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’”
Confess the foolishness of counting on anything but God.
Counting is a big deal for a kindergartener. “See, there are three balls!” “Look, I counted five flowers!” But innocent joy is quickly corrupted. “She has more M&Ms than I do!” “I want two cookies!” We don’t usually make a big deal of it, but we grown-ups count too. We count our cars, trophies, account balances, credentials, promotions, vacation days, square footage and acres, salaries, weight and size, friends and likes…
David counted soldiers. So what’s the big deal? Isn’t that a good thing for a Commander-in-Chief to do? The big deal is that David’s numbering betrayed what he was counting on.
Gideon counted soldiers too, but he learned to count on God instead (Judges 7). David’s heart was stricken when he realized that he had forgotten the lesson of Gideon. David began his confession admitting he had sinned by counting “very foolishly.” David then demonstrated that he was counting on God by refusing to “offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”
May we learn to declare with Paul, “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
- What is one thing you sinfully count on that you could offer as a sacrifice to God today?
- Read Philippians 2:5-11. Ask God to show you what things you tend to count as something to be grasped. Humble yourself like Christ by confessing your foolishness like David.
- Here are more examples of counting. Which one is particularly convicting? Which one is particularly inspiring? Can you think of any other examples?
- Abraham — Stars and Sand (Genesis 15:1-6)
- Abraham — Ishmael (Genesis 16:1-2, 17:17-19)
- The widow’s jars (2 Kings 4:1-7)
- Elisha and the army of God (2 Kings 6:15-17)
- Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)
- The Sinful Woman and the Parable of the Moneylender (Luke 7:36-50)
- “Count the cost” (Luke 14:25-33)
- Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-10)
- Jesus emptied himself (Philippians 2:5-11)
- “Count it all joy” (James 1:2-3)
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1