Census

Incite: 1) to encourage or stir up (violent or unlawful behavior), 2) to urge or persuade (someone) to act in a violent or unlawful way. bing.com

 

1 Chronicles 21:1, “Now Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.” Modern English Version

God was angry with the people of Israel. It is not clear why, but 1 Samuel 24:1 starts with the word “again.” God chose to test Israel by encouraging David to number them.

2 Samuel 24:1, “Again the Lord became angry against Israel, and He incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and count the people of Israel and Judah.’ ” Modern English Version

 

“. . . Although scripture is clear that God does not cause anyone to sin (James 1:13-14), it is also clear that the evil acts of people and Satan are under God’s sovereign control (Exodus 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27: 11:10; 14:4, 8; Joshua 11:20; 1 Kings 22:22-23; Job 1:12; 2:6; Ezekiel 3:20; 14:9; Acts 4:28). . . . David’s military census (see vv. 2-3) does not appear to have been prompted by any immediate external threat. Since he wanted to ‘know how many there are’ (v. 2), it is evident that his action was motivated by pride in the size of the empire he had acquired, by reliance for his security on the size of the reserve of manpower he could muster in an emergency or, more likely, by both. The mere taking of a census was hardly sinful (see Numbers 1:2-3; 26:2-4), but in this instance it represented an unwarranted glorying in and dependence on human power rather than the Lord (not much different from Israel’s initial desire to have a king for its security; see 1 Samuel 8-12). The act was uncharacteristic of David (see 22:2-4; 47-51; 1 Samuel 17:26, 37, 45-47).” New International Version Study Bible Notes

The Book of the Law was clear about how to take a census. King Asa took a census in 2 Chronicles 14:8 and King Amaziah took one in 2 Chronicles 25:5. The result of David’s census was never recorded, (see 1 Chronicles 27:23, 24).

Exodus 30:12, “When you take a census of the children of Israel according to their number, then each man is to pay a ransom for his life to the Lord when you count them, so that there be no plague among them when you number them.” Modern English Version

David recognized his motive for the census was wrong, (see 1 Chronicles 21:8). Unfortunately, there are always consequences, (see 1 Chronicles 21:12).

Satan is constantly setting up traps to snare us. Each test, or trap, has to have God’s release, (see Job 1:1-2:6). We do not need to fear because God promised to make a way of escape for each one.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Modern English Version

People see what we do. God sees our motives. We see horrible things happening to others. We cannot see their hearts, their motives, or God’s plan for their life. Like Job’s comforters, we do not want to try to explain everything. But follow their example at the beginning.

Job 2:13, “Then they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. Meanwhile, no one was speaking to him at all because they saw that his pain was severe.” Modern English Version

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Rebuked

I love to write! I post to my blogs 8 times a week – twice on Fridays. I talk almost as much as I write.

My family gathered for a birthday dinner last night and I started talking. I was “preaching to the choir.” My daughter surprised me by saying, “Is this really appropriate dinner conversation?”

She was right. I went back to eating and someone else chose another subject.

Psalms 141:5, “Let the righteous man strike me; it shall be a kindness. Let him rebuke me; it shall be oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. . . .” Modern English Version

My daughter didn’t hit me, but her words rebuked me when I needed to hear them. She did me a kindness.

When in public, I tell myself I am not going to talk because I end up sticking my foot in my mouth. That is not the answer. I just need a stronger filter.

Psalms 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Modern English Version.

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Journey

I am sitting on the couch in the sun, with the ceiling fan on high. I’m dressed for the first funeral and hoping my hair dries in the next hour.

Snow covers the ground and it’s cold, 19° F. My heart is breaking for the widow and her children. God showed me this promise.

Psalms 68:5, “A father of the fatherless, and a protector of the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” Modern English Version

The next funeral will be more difficult because he was so young. Again, God gave me comfort from His word.

“Psalms 139:16, “Your eyes saw me unformed, yet in Your book all my days were written, before any of them came into being.” Modern English Version

I pray for these widows as they wade through a mountain of paperwork and red tape. Grief is a journey. It’s long and exhausting. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing. But God promises to go before them, to have their back, to guide them with a hand on their elbow, and to comfort them with a hand on their shoulder.

Psalms 139:5, “You put Yourself behind and before me, and keep Your hand on me.” Modern English Version

The forecasted high for tomorrow is 51° F. The snow will melt and disappear. Winter is winding down. Spring is coming.

Psalms 65:9-13, “You visit the earth and water it. . . . You prepare their grain. . . You settle its ridges . . . You bless its sprouting . . .The valleys are covered with grain. . . .” Modern English Version

This winter of grief is a season. It will not last forever. The cold and hardness will melt. The tears will water and soften the heart, to allow hope to sprout. One day, they will look around to see blessings cover their landscape.

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Widows

I lost another soldier.

This one hurts even worse because he was our niece’s husband. I don’t understand. He was stateside.

He is one of the 34 names on my prayer list of soldiers who have returned safely from deployments. The three soldiers who died were all serving on American soil. My heart was reeling when I got a text, “Pastor Tom passed away.”

I was completely housebound for 3 years. There were few who called and even fewer visitors. When my husband and son started attending Faith Christian Outreach Church, they put a prayer request card in for me. Pastor Tom had not even met me and he called every month. He left me with hope and the faith that it wouldn’t last forever.

It didn’t.

When my daughter-in-law was going through a difficult pregnancy, he called her. They didn’t even attend our church!

What do I say to my newlywed niece who became a widow before her first anniversary? What do I say to Pastor Tom’s wife who has shared a lifetime with him?

Psalms 18:34, “There is no speech and there are no words; their voice is not heard.” Modern English Version

 

“Loss can make us feel forsaken and utterly destroyed. . . and some may have to wait for heaven where all wrongs will be righted, all wounds healed, all tears wiped away.”

“Restoring What the Locusts Have Eaten”

Kristine Steakley crosswalk.com

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Joab

Joab didn’t like competition. He was commander of David’s army and later of the army of Israel. He killed anyone who threatened his position.

Abner was the commander over Israel’s army when Saul was king. He defected to David after Saul’s death. When Joab found out, he tricked him and killed him, (see 2 Samuel 3:6-39). David recognized that Joab and his brothers were strong and doing evil, (v. 39).

David chose Amasa to replace Joab, (see 2 Samuel 19:13). We don’t know why. Joab tricked Amasa, sliced his stomach open, and left him on the road to die, (see 2 Samuel 20:8-13).

Joab didn’t think he did anything wrong. He claimed his innocence to the woman at Abel.

2 Samuel 20:20, “Far be it,  far be it from me to swallow up or destroy.” Modern English Version

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Ittai

Ittai, the Gittite, was a foreigner exiled from his country. He arrived in Jerusalem the day before King David fled from Absalom, (see 2 Samuel 15:19-22). He brought all of his men and their families, young and old, (see v. 22).

David fought many wars. He fought against Ittai at some point. The Gittites were inhabitants of Gath, a chief Philistine city, biblestudytools.com/dictionary/gittites.

David subdued the Philistines along with other nations, (see 2 Samuel 8:11, 12). The Gittites were known for their great stature, (see 2 Samuel 21:19; 1 Chronicles 20:5). Goliath was a Gittite from Gath. David killed him when he was a teenager.

God is never early and never late. It was no coincidence that a giant warrior showed up in Jerusalem on that day. God had a job for him.

2 Samuel 18:2, “Then David dispatched the people, one-third under the command of Joab, one-third under the command of Abishai, the son of Zeruiah and brother of Joab, and one-third under the command of Ittai the Gittite. . . .” Modern English Version

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Ahithophel

Ahithophel was a wise advisor, as “when one inquired a word from God,” (see 2 Samuel 16:23). That verse said he was an advisor to David and Absalom, who was now the heir to the throne.

But Absalom became greedy. He stole the hearts of the people, (see 2 Samuel 16:23), and was not willing to wait for David’s death to become king. He went to Hebron and caused an uprising, (see 2 Samuel 15:7-12).

He sent for Ahithophel, who was offering sacrifices in his hometown, (see 2 Samuel 15:12), and they went to Jerusalem together. He followed the advice of Ahithophel when he first arrived, (see 2 Samuel 16:20-22), but didn’t follow his advice about the battle. God had other plans.

2 Samuel 17:14, “Then Absalom and all of the men of Israel said, ‘The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had decided to undermine the prudent advice of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring calamity to Absalom.” Modern English Version

Ahithophel gave up, (see 2 Samuel 17:23) because they didn’t take his advice.

We give advice to our children, and when they are young, they listen carefully. But as they get older, they listen to their friends instead. We can see calamity ahead, but we cannot stop it.

I learned three things from the life of Ahithophel:

  1. Never stop giving advice.
  2. God has a plan.
  3. Never give up.

Unfortunately, when our advice is not taken, there are always consequences. This is true when part of your job is giving advice.

My friend, Kiley, moved away a few years ago. He worked for the city and his job involved giving advice. When asked why he was moving away from a job he loved, he said, “They just stopped listening to me.” Even when people stop listening, never give up.

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Snared

Why does the God of justice allow injustice to go on for so long? He is giving the wicked one rope.

“Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.” American Proverb

“If you give someone that you suspect of bad behavior the freedom to behave badly, eventually he or she will be caught and punished.” thefreedictionary.com

Psalms 9:16, “The Lord is known by the judgment that He executes; the wicked one is snared in the work of his own hands.” Modern English Version

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Barefoot

In my post, Ezel, I shared that the Garden of Gethsemane is on the slope of the Mount of Olives. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that Jesus prayed before they arrested and crucified him. That was not the first time a man was on the mount weeping in anguish.

2 Samuel 14:30, “David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went. His head was covered and he went barefoot. Then all of the people who were with him each covered his head and went up, weeping as they went.” Modern English Version

David’s covered his head and went up barefoot. When Jesus went up to Golgotha, for crucifixion, he was barefoot and on his head was a crown of thorns.

David and Jesus were both carrying shame and disgrace: David because his son was trying to kill him, and Jesus because of nakedness, our sin, and a criminal’s death.

When we face shame and disgrace, we can follow the example of David and Jesus:

  1. Keep humble – covered heads, (see Matthew 27:29).
  2. Be vulnerable – barefoot, (see Matthew 27:28).
  3. Cry out to God – in anguish, (see Luke 22:44).
  4. Keep walking – the only way out is to keep climbing, (Luke 23:29).
  5. Don’t isolate yourself – Jesus took his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, (see Luke 22:39). David had his entire house, his servants, the Kerethites, Pelethites, and Gittites with him, (see 2 Samuel 15:16-18).

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Jonadab

I learned more about the crown King David took from Rabbah the King of the Ammonites. Two days ago, I blogged about the weight of the crown – 75 pounds or 34 kilograms. Today I learned the weight came from one precious stone!

“1 Chronicles 20:2, “Then David took the crown of their king from his head and found it weighed about a talent of gold with a precious stone set in it. . . .” Modern English Version

That must have been some stone!

* * * * * * *

Later, in the same chapter, I read of another giant killed by David’s nephew, Jonathan the son of Shimea, (see 1 Chronicles 20:7). Jonathan was a great warrior, but look how 2 Samuel describes his brother!

2 Samuel 13:3, “Now Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, the brother of David, and Jonadab was a very crafty individual.” Modern English Version

Their father’s name is spelled differently in the two books, but they both say, “the brother of David.”

How crafty was Jonadab?

He knew Absalom was going to kill Amnon, (see 13:30-36), but he was not with Amnon when he died. Verse 30 tells us the report came while the rest of the sons of David were on their way home. Jonadab knew he would have no influence after Amnon was dead. He made sure he was where he could be the “friend” of King David. He comforted him by assuring him only Amnon was dead, (see 13:32, 33).

Amnon used the same phrase talking to David as Absalom used talking to Tamar, “Don’t take this thing to heart,” (see 13:20, 33 Modern English Version).

“Be quiet now, my sister . . . Don’t take this thing to heart. Absalom urges his sister not to make the matter a public scandal. Meanwhile, he formulates his own secret plans for revenge, (see vv. 22, 28, 32).” New International Version Study Bible Text Notes

The International Standard Version Bible says, “Stop taking this so personally” and the NET Bible says, “Don’t take it so seriously.” There is no offense more “personal” than rape and it was “serious!” Losing her virginity meant she was unsuitable for marriage. She never married or had children. She was desolate for the rest of her life, (see 2 Samuel 13:20). Absalom named his daughter after her, (see 2 Samuel 14:27).

And David lost his firstborn son, the crown prince! How could he keep it a secret that the heir to the throne was dead?

David was afraid of losing a child after Bathsheba’s baby died. That’s why he went to check on Amnon when he learned he was sick. His worse fear came true and Jonadab basically said, “Shut up. Don’t worry about it. Keep it quiet.” Yeah, Jonadab was not a good friend!

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