1 CHRONICLES 21:1-7: “Then satan stood up against Israel and incited David to count Israel. So David told Joab and the leaders of the people, “Go, count Israel from Beersheba to Dan. Then bring me a report so I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May ADONAI multiply His people 100 times over! But my master the king, are they not all my master’s servants? Why does my master require this thing? Why should he be a cause of guilt to Israel?” Nevertheless the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and finally came back to Jerusalem. Joab gave the number of the census of the people to David: in all Israel there were 1,100,000 sword-wielding men; Judah had 470,000 sword-wielding men. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s word was detestable to Joab. But God was displeased with this thing and He struck Israel.”
OBSERVATION: Am I guarding my heart from the pitfall of pride? Am I aware that this is one of the principle weapons the enemy uses to attack my life when I am experiencing victories from the Lord? The book of Proverbs is very clear,
- “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit with the afflicted than to share the spoil with the proud.” Proverbs 16:18-19 TLV
How could David, a man after God’s own heart, fall prey to such an obvious attack of the enemy? And why was God’s punishment on Israel so severe? At first glance it simply appears that David was requesting a census, something that Israel had done before, under the direction of the Lord. However, the Lord had not directed David to do this, and it was not motivated out of obedience to the Lord. David’s census was motivated out of pride.
The previous chapter in 1 Chronicles listed the victories that David and Israel had accomplished over the Ammonites and the Philistines. It even listed their victory over the descendants of Goliath. It was in this setting of victory that Satan attacked David. And it was in this setting of victory that David succumbed to the pitfall of pride.
How easy it is for us to begin to think that we have something to do with the victories in our life. All I really need to do is listen to the words coming out of my mouth to see if I am close to this pitfall. When the pronoun “I” is used more than “He”, then I am moving ever closer to the pitfall of pride. David was reveling in his victories. He began to think that his military prowess and the size of his army was the reason for these victories. David stood at the intersection of pride and humility, and at this juncture David chose pride.
Pride can blind us to so many things. David’s momentary lapse of pride caused him to ignore the warnings of his general Joab who had fought side by side with him in so many battles. God uses those closest to us to help us see our blind spots. When we find ourselves refusing to listen to those speaking into our life, we are at the edge of the pitfall of pride. David also was blinded to his own motivation. Pride is insidious. It convinces us that our motives are pure, while deep down we know that we are entering into forbidden territory.
Israel was created to be the people of God. The Lord was to be their true King, and His Word was to be their true sword. It was this devotion to the true and living God, and His Word, that differentiated Israel from all other nations on the face of the earth. David’s actions threatened the very core of this uniqueness. If David, the man after God’s own heart, began to follow the ways of the nations around Him, what would happen to the entire nation of Israel? God’s punishment upon Israel was severe because so much was at stake!
The enemy could not stop the powerful hand of the Lord that brought these victories in David’s life. The only way the enemy could defeat David was if David defeated himself. This is also true for all of us who are followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus has won the victory. There is nothing that the enemy of our souls can do that can thwart the victory that Jesus has already won on the cross. The only way he can win over our lives is if he incites us to trust in our own power, rather than the power of God. And he does this by inciting us to the pitfall of pride.
There is a victory over pride! It is not found in our actions, it is found in our position. Pride incites us to action, humility calls us to position. The position of humility is surrender. It is found on our knees as we acknowledge our pride and as we place ourselves once again in the mighty hands of God. God will always resist the proud, but He will always pour out His manifold grace upon those who position themselves in humility!
- “But He gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of ADONAI, and He shall lift you up.” Jacob (James) 4:6-10 TLV
This is what the Lord did for David and Israel, and this is what He will do for each one of us as we humble ourselves under HIs mighty hand! When we are positioned in humility, when we recognize that everything we are, have, and do, is a gift of God’s grace – the enemy will flee! Our victory is not in the battle, our victory is in the Cross! It is in the Cross of Christ that we find our rest and our victory. He alone is our victory, and He alone will lift us up.
Lord, cleanse my heart this morning from all pride. Forgive me for the times when I have taken credit for the works of Your grace. Today, I choose to humble myself under Your mighty hand. Today I choose to draw heart to You! Be my victory!
In Jesus Name!