“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, go number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.” 1 Chronicles 21:1-2
David and his servants had just defeated the giant in Gath. This giant had multiple fingers and toes (1 Chronicles 20:6-8) but nonetheless because God was with David, he was able to defeat him. Moreover, this was not David’s first encounter with a giant. Remember Goliath? (1 Samuel 17). So, I was a little surprised when David decided to number Israel in 1 Chronicles 21. Numbering Israel was an insult to God and Joab tried to explain this to David thus, “And Joab answered, 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?”
And Joab was right but because David was king, he had to obey him. So, he numbered Israel as requested by king David. God does not need numbers or man’s strength to win battles. He can do it all by himself. So numbering Israel was technically telling God that he was not enough to defend or protect them. The consequences of what David did was devastating because Israel suffered from pestilence sent by God himself and seventy thousand men of the same people that David numbered died from it. And God was not finished yet, but as the destroying angel was getting ready to destroy Jerusalem God changed his mind and stopped the angel (1 Chronicles 21:15).
Provocation is always a deliberate act with only one purpose in mind and that is to cause a negative outcome. When someone provokes you and you yield to it, the result is always bad or destructive. That is why the Bible says in Ephesians 6:4, that parents should not provoke their children to wrath because there is no telling what the end result of that provocation will be. But we only know for certain that it will not be a positive one. David let his guard down and was overcome by the invisible enemy. I believe he was overtaken by pride just for a moment and so the enemy was able to use that against him (remember that pride does not work alone it works simultaneously with destruction according to Proverbs 16:18). Sometimes our very success can become our downfall, and that is why it is so important to stay focus God and not on the material or physical blessings. In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul related to us about himself and how he was caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable things. And I love what he said in verse 6 & 7, he said “for though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool, for I will say the truth, but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” Glory be to God! Hallelujah.
The word buffet in this case means to strike. So in order to protect Paul from the results of being provoked by the enemy to boast about what he saw or to become prideful in himself, God allowed the same enemy to strike him with an issue so bad that Paul called it a thorn in his flesh. But how many know that it was that same thorn that kept Paul grounded in Christ, so that he could have fulfilled his purpose and his God given destiny? All the enemy need is a small window to deceive us or to cause havoc in our lives. As Christians, we must never get too high minded that we forget who is in charge. We are just caretakers and recipients of God’s blessings. Never see yourself as anything else. That is why it is so important to walk in the spirit on a daily basis (Galatians 5:16) otherwise we are prone to give in to the flesh. That same enemy (Satan) is still provoking God’s people to sin. That is his job and he is doing it to the best of his ability. Our job is to keep our hearts in tuned with God by reading the Bible, fasting, and praying, so that we can stand during times of temptation. What are you being provoked to do today?
Let us pray: Lord please forgive me of my sins today. Thank you for your word. My God and Father I thank you that the enemy of my soul can never win when you are in control of my life. Please help me to live a life of prayer and fasting and help me to stay engulfed in your word, so I can stand in the victory that is already won in Jesus name. Amen. Until next time. God bless you.
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