David Chapter 11: Census Wahala

Let’s take on another chapter in the life of David. There was that census controversy. It was recorded by both the church historian and the royal historian. Understandably they had different perspectives, especially over who incited the census. The church historian says it was God, the royal historian says it was Satan. I suspect the two historians are Nigerian Pentecostals. One thing they both agreed on however is that there was a census.

The whole thing started because Israel had offended God, yet again. Israel had this convoluted relationship with God. They claimed to love him but his commandments were observed mostly in the breach. They disobeyed him regularly and every now and then God would get angry. We don’t know what the issue was this time around however. The thing about this census mandated by David was that he demanded absolute figures – everyone must be counted: adults, men, women, priests, teenagers, children, infants. The man saddled with the responsibility was General Joab. He objected vehemently to the exercise – “Why must you cause Israel to sin?” he had asked David. God apparently didn’t want Israel counted. But David insisted and so it was done. The census took almost ten months.

After the census the royal historian and the church historian disagreed on figures. According to the royal historian the total number of potential conscripts into the army was 1.57million. 1 Chronicles 21:5. The church historian insisted the number was 1.3m. 2 Samuel 24:9. These two government departments couldn’t see eye to eye, just like government departments today. It’s instructive however that Joab didn’t take the full census. For example, he didn’t count the priests and he didn’t count the tribe of Benjamin. 1 Chronicles 21:6. He was seeking for partial compliance with God’s directive against census.

David soon realized his mistake and became remorseful. But the deed was done. This is how the Message Bible records that remorse: “But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics.” 2 Samuel 24:10 MSG. In other words some management consultant had gotten through to David and persuaded him to do statistical analysis of the population with a view to analyzing military strength. The man whose army had improbably defeated the Jebusites and taken over Jerusalem was now relying on figures to project the potential outcome of battles. In management science it’s called game theory. It demonstrated David’s lack of faith in God.

But there was a more technical reason God didn’t want that kind of census. It has to do with us surprisingly. But we have to go back into history a little to figure things out. Though we must also state there had been earlier censuses mandated by God. The result sheet is the Book of Numbers in the Bible. It’s a census book. Though it’s also kind of an ancient Ancestory.com. To be honest that book is tedious to read. But that’s probably because some of us hate figures. Two censuses are recorded in that book – one at the beginning of the wilderness experience, the other at the end of it. Numbers 1:1-3, 26:1-4. The second census was undertaken to assess military strength. It will set the tone for subsequent censuses in Israel. They’ve always had millitary censuses. The census for pastors was conducted separately. Numbers 4:46-48. It was never mixed with the general census. Which kind of explains why Joab didn’t count the priests. Here’s the story of how we got involved before we were born.

God had befriended a particular gentleman called Abraham. He’s the father of the Jewish nation. He singled out Abraham for reasons which are not particularly clear though it must be said he was later proven right. Abraham was the kind of guy who could be friends with God. He believed improbable stuff, the kind of stuff most people will call fantasy. When you’re friends with God you have to believe such stuff. Abraham believed God could do anything. Before Abraham God had a friend problem. He still has in actual fact. It isn’t always easy for God to befriend humans. They are prone to rebellion and they think God is a science fiction writer. Then they have this tendency to veer off in search of stupid things to worship, like stone and wood! Not this guy Abraham. He had absolute faith in God. Who else but Abraham would emigrate on instruction without a specified destination? Hebrews 11:8.

Anyway, God apparently made several outlandish promises to Abraham. He told him for example that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of heaven. To help him envision the reality he actually told him to look into the night sky. He wanted to fuel his imagination. Genesis 15:5. You can’t imagine how ridiculous that statement from God was. There was double jeopardy. Sarah was barren, both were Methuselahs. Abraham was 75, Sarah was 65. Yet that guy believed God. They would eventually give birth to a son. He was appropriately named Isaac. Isaac means laughter. But here’s the thing: when God makes a promise, technically it’s already fulfilled at pronouncement. What remains is manifestation. And so as far as God was concerned the Israeli nation already numbered billions even though Abraham had no child.

In order to fulfill his promise to his friend but still take account of reality God came up with an ingenious census methodology for Israel. All those under twenty were not to be counted during census. That way the absolute figure was indeterminable. Israel was therefore technically “uncountable.” When I was a little boy “uncountable” was a huge number. God used a child’s logic. The truth is, God wasn’t planning to fulfill his promise to Abraham biologically. The rate of multiplication was too slow. It will take forever, if not impossible. Even now the population of Israel is only 8.6 million. That’s 0.11% of total world population. By contrast the population of Lagos is 14.4million. God came up with a technical device. You see, he had promised Abraham, “Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” Genesis 22:18 NIV. One offspring not “offsprings.” The promises were made to a “seed” not “seeds.” Genesis 12:7. Guess who the seed was? Christ! Galatians 3:16. All those who believe in Christ are deemed Abraham’s descendants. They that are of faith are the sons of Abraham. Galatians 3:19. And so when God promised Abraham his descendants would number billions he was referring to believers in Christ, not his biological descendants. Romans 9:6-8. That was how God fulfilled his promise to Abraham.

But as at the time of David’s census Christ had not gone to the cross. There were no believers in Christ. The promise had not been fulfilled in reality so the number cannot be published. Those who would believe in Christ were therefore technically represented by the uncounted under 20s. They were a sort of spiritual ellipsis. David’s decision to count the Israelites in absolute figures therefore violated God’s promise to Abraham. Yet it’s impossible for God to lie. Hebrews 6:18. David’s census was premature. We weren’t yet on the scene.

A compound punishment was duly visited on Israel as a result of the infraction. David was given a multiple-choice question – 3 years of famine, or 3 months of fleeing from your enemies, or 3 days of Coronavirus (or any designated plague)? 2 Samuel 24:13. In his answer David made a powerful statement: “Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let us fall into human hands.” 2 Samuel 24:14. He therefore chose the plague. That plague killed 70,000. When the angel of death got to Jerusalem God stopped the plague. The death toll would have been much higher. It is better to fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great.

If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”

To read David Chapter 11: Census Wahala go to www.myilluminare.com/david-chapter-11-census-wahala/.

*To learn more about how the spiritual realm controls governments and societies, you can read my book, Of Madmen, Senators & Ambassadors. Order at https://store.lekealder.com.

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com.

When God makes a promise, technically it’s already fulfilled at pronouncement. What remains is manifestation. #Illuminare Click To Tweet It’s impossible for God to lie. #Illuminare Click To Tweet It is better to fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. #Illuminare Click To Tweet