What Is The Motivation?
It is important to understand why the numbering or census of Israel in 1 Chronicles and 2 Samuel was a trespass or sin before delving deeper into the matter of perspective. Even though there is a clear conflict in motivation depicted in narratives, why is there even a problem with David calling for a census? In the book of Genesis, Moses initiated the taking of a census, but his census was not considered evil or sinful. Moses was living under the covenant God established with Abraham, but he was also in direct contact with God. David was also living and operating under the promise made to Abraham, as well as the Law that Moses brought from God. Genesis 13:14-16 and 15:5 describe some of the conditions of the covenant with Abraham under which both David and Moses were living.
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
Genesis 15:5 (NIV)
He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars-- if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Both Moses and David were living under the same law and promise, but there were differences between these two censuses. An examination of the underlying conditions and covenants will provide a more comprehensive understanding of David’s problem as we see that the motivations for the two census actions were actually quite different.
David’s faith in God guided his actions and began long before his reign. He had an encounter with a bear and a lion that were attacking his father’s sheep. The young shepherd boy relied on his faith in God and killed both of the attackers with his bare hands. He honored his father and took the job he had as a sheepherder very seriously. He gave God credit for empowering him to prevail against his enemy. He told King Saul that because of his faith and the success that God gave him, he would have no problem defeating a foe of Israel, Goliath the Philistine. He declared his confidence in 1 Samuel 17:32-37 because God would be with him.
1 Samuel 17:32-37 (TLB)
“Don’t worry about a thing,” David told him. “I’ll take care of this Philistine!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “How can a kid like you fight with a man like him? You are only a boy, and he has been in the army since he was a boy!” But David persisted.
“When I am taking care of my father’s sheep,” he said, “and a lion or a bear comes and grabs a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and take the lamb from its mouth. If it turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this heathen Philistine too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who saved me from the claws and teeth of the lion and the bear will save me from this Philistine!”
Saul finally consented, “All right, go ahead,” he said, “and may the Lord be with you!”
David was ultimately victorious against Goliath, a trained soldier, because he relied upon the Lord for his strength. He rose to become the King of Israel as he demonstrated his faith, living in the covenant he had with God through Abraham. However, David was not perfect and encountered several faith “speed bumps” along the way.
One of them likely created the reason that the census detailed in 1 Chronicles and 2 Samuel was an offense to God and considered to be a sin.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about this subject read,
Chapter 17, “THE NUMBERING OF ISRAEL A THREAT ASSESSMENT"
In Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God, now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
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