"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel" (I Chronicles 21:1).
One might think that Satan would have left David alone after he had brought him to such utter defeat a number of years before when he sinned with Bathsheba. But no, he's after him again. This time, he prods or goads David to number the people--to see how strong he was in military might--to put pride in numbers.
David, of all people, should have understood that his power came from God, and not in how many soldiers he had. When David commanded the census to be taken, Joab replied, "The LORD make His people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?" (v.3). Joab rebuked the king because he understood that to do something in pride would be a great sin, and would bring upon Israel disastrous results.
It was God's grace that sent Joab to David, to endeavor to stop him on the path of sin. We should also be thankful when a parent, pastor, youth director, or friend comes to us and clearly shows the sinful direction we are taking.
David did not listen to the voice of the Lord through Joab, and he once again received God's displeasure and judgment. In fact, 70,000 men died as a direct result of David's pride (v.14). God showed David how quickly He could take numbers from him. He had forgotten that one could "chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight" (Deuteronomy 32:30). David didn't need numbers; he just needed the Lord. In his farewell address, Joshua put it all in perspective when he said, "One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the LORD your God, He it is that fighteth for you, as He hath promised you" (Joshua 23:10). How important are numbers to you? NPS