All of us are confronted with decisions daily – some are small ones whilst others are more important ones. What influences the choices we make need to be carefully examined. All decisions have consequences especially those that are more serious. Some decisions bring joy and blessings whilst others may be bad ones and would bring adverse outcomes wrought with pain and agony not only to ourselves but to others as well.
There was an incident in the life of David that powerfully illustrates what I have been saying so far. The situation David found himself in, where he was faced with a choice in his decision, and the consequences of his wrong decision was devastating is found in 2 Samuel 24:1-17. Read the account yourself prayerfully.
The story in a nutshell is that David gave orders to Joab and the army commanders with him to go throughout the tribes of Israel and enroll the fighting men, so that he might know how many there are. On the surface, it seemed totally harmless and rational. However, Joab, his closest general and ally detected the harm of it. Joab said to David, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?”
Joab hinted at the motive behind the counting – pride in David. This thing that David desired was the increase of the nation, and he perhaps wanted to measure the size of his army to know if he had enough force to conquer a neighboring nation. “He did it out of curiosity and creature-confidence.” (Trapp). David was tempted to take some of the glory for himself. He looked at how Israel had grown and prospered during his reign – it was remarkable indeed. The count was a way to take credit for himself. “The spirit of vainglory in numbers had taken possession of the people and the king, and there was a tendency to trust in numbers and forget God.” (Morgan).
Pride in his “success” crept into heart. Joab was right is questioning David and challenged his motive?
The tragedy was that David did not take heed to Joab and insisted in the censers. It was only after the exercise was over that he was conscience-stricken. He said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a foolish thing.” (2 Samuel 24:10). David saw the pride and vainglory that prompted him to do such a foolish thing.
Although the Lord is a merciful God and forgives us our sins if we truly repent before him, there are consequences that we have to face. And the chastisement upon David was indeed very grave. This, I believe, was to teach David and the rest of us of the grave dangers of pride.
David was given 3 choices: Three years of famine, or three months of fleeing from their enemies, or three days of plague in the land. David chose the last one and pleaded for God’s mercy. 70,000 precious men perished.
1. Are we humble enough to be open to the critique of our close allies who love us and are brave enough to speak honestly with us, even challenging our motives?
2. Pride can be so insidious, no one is totally immune to it. Pride is especially potent when we are in seasons of “success”. Beware and be alert. Pray for a spirit of humility to govern our hearts no matter how prosperous or successful we are.
Rev. Timothy Chow