2 Samuel 24:14 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”
For the modern reader, the question arises as to why it was wrong for David to count his fighting men. The only answer I can come up with is that it was a matter of pride. For David, that would tie in closely with relying on his army rather than on the Lord. There are many stories in the Bible to teach us that “one plus God is a majority,” with the story of God reducing the size of Gideon’s fighting force as one of the most striking examples. (Judges 7) By overruling his own military leaders (verse 4) David was insisting on having his own way, and that is never a good thing. That said, when it came to the matter of consequences for his willfulness, David went back to what he had learned of God over the years, and threw himself on God’s mercy rather than deal with any human agents of discipline. We all get ourselves into fixes by our foolishness, so David should be a good example to us. Like him, we need to acknowledge our sins, trusting God to deal with us in mercy but not making any claims for ourselves. This particular story of David is most famous for his statement in verse 24 that he would not sacrifice to God that which cost him nothing. In other words, he understood the meaning of “sacrifice.” There too we need to learn from him, because we are all too prone to give to God out of our surplus, rather than making any real sacrifices for Him and His kingdom. Jesus talked about that issue very memorably while watching people put money in the offering box at the temple. (Luke 21:1-4) David has a lot to teach us, both by good example and bad.
As I have commented recently, I indeed have a lot to learn from David. Like him, I am a poet and a musician. Like him, I am in a position of leadership that I did not choose for myself. Like him, I have all the weaknesses that come with being a human being. Like him, I have tasted the amazing grace and mercy of God in abundance. I think what I need most to learn from him is humility, along with a full awareness of the dangers of pride. I have demonstrated very thoroughly that I can accomplish nothing good on my own, but I have also seen that God can and will use me in spite of myself. I have the constant temptation to rely on, and/or brag on, the gifts He has given me, but that never ends well. At the same time I must never shrink from any task He sets for me, but rather know that He will enable me to do whatever He requires. Like David before Goliath, I must know that no problem is bigger than my God, but I am a rather insignificant part of the equation. I am to keep myself available to Him, and give Him all the glory.
Father, it seems like I am in constant training in this area. Help me really learn what You teach me, not so much as to escape further lessons but so that I will be able to apply those things as You intend, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!