What are we counting?
What do you find yourself counting? Is it what counts?
What do you constantly inventory the most?
Satan wants to incite us to count things that don’t count. I always knew he'd use math against me.
He wants to distract us from our actual purpose and all God has for us. He will incite us to inventory our lives in such a way that it subtly shifts our dependence from God’s to our own shoulders. This shift always leaves us feeling the weight, and sometimes paying high consequences.
I’ve been reading and praying over this story from the life of David found in 1 Chronicles 21. As the chapter begins, Satan is inciting David to count the fighting men of Israel, so he is discussing this move with the commander of his armies, Joab.
“Now Satan entered the scene and seduced David into taking a census of Israel’s fighting men.” That’s verse one, or as I like to call it, step one. I love how the Message records Joab’s response: “Why on earth would you do a thing like this?” I mean seriously David, you are man after God’s own heart, why would you put your strength in numbers? David knew better, but he goes ahead and shifts his trust from God’s very broad shoulders to his own. David’s shift in confidence from God to numbers left grave consequences for him and for his people.
I spend a lot of time counting things that don’t count. Sometimes I count likes, sometimes I count doubts, sometimes I count wrinkles. Whenever I shift my confidence from God to myself, I feel like I need to add up to something. That’s why I start counting, but what we count inevitably becomes what we count on.
God doesn’t want us counting on ourselves because He knows it leaves us empty. He just wants us to remember that we count to Him. That is the sum of our worth, nothing else adds up no matter how many times we count it.
I was really bothered by this story. I kept asking myself, “How could David, the man after God’s own heart, fall this fast?” How did this happen? I had a sneaking suspicions so I went back to 1 Samuel to check something out. You see there was this other time that David acted uncharacteristically. He had a man murdered so he could have his wife. Yeah, there really isn’t a pretty way to say that. You might remember her; her name was Bathsheba. Chapter 11 verse 1 states that, “in the Spring of the year, the time when Kings go out to battle, David sent Joab …but David remained at Jerusalem.” David should have been in the battle, but he misplaced himself on a rooftop right into Satan’s very capable hands.
If we go back to our current story, but just one chapter back to 2 Chronicles 20 verse 1 we see an interesting parallel. “In the spring of the year, the time when Kings go out to battle Joab led out the army…but David remained at Jerusalem.” Seem familiar to you at all? That is literally word for word how things went awry with Bathsheba. And then again, right before David decided to trust in numbers instead of God. David didn’t engage. He grew lazy. He wasn’t in the fight, and it left him wide open for an attack.
Just like David, we set ourselves up for Satan to seduce us when we don’t engage in the battle. Satan lies in wait until we put down our shield of faith, lay down our Bible-swords, put up our prayer journal, and quit fighting. If we don’t actively engage him, we will lose ground every time.
God, help us feel the subtle shift of our confidence from you to ourselves and when we feel the pressure to measure and count, free us from it before we build on shifting sand.
I can’t wait to tell you the second half of this story. It highlights God’s mercy in such a cool way. I'll save that for another day.