1 Satan decided to cause trouble for Israel by making David think it was a good idea to find out how many people there were in Israel and Judah. 

2 David told Joab and the army commanders, “Count everyone in Israel, from the town of Beersheba in the south all the way north to Dan. Then I will know how many people can serve in my army.”

3 Joab answered, “Your Majesty, even if the Lord made your kingdom a hundred times larger, you would still rule everyone in it. Why do you need to know how many soldiers there are? Don’t you think that would make the whole nation angry?”

4 But David would not change his mind. And so Joab went everywhere in Israel and Judah and counted the people. He returned to Jerusalem 

5 and told David that the total number of men who could serve in the army was one million one hundred thousand in Israel and four hundred seventy thousand in Judah. 

6 Joab refused to include anyone from the tribes of Levi and Benjamin, because he still disagreed with David’s orders.

7 David’s order to count the people made God angry, and he punished Israel. 

8 David prayed, “I am your servant. But what I did was stupid and terribly wrong. Please forgive me.”

9 The Lord said to Gad, one of David’s prophets, 

10 “Tell David that I will punish him in one of three ways. But he will have to choose which one it will be.”

11 Gad went to David and told him:

You must choose how the Lord will punish you: 

12 Will there be three years when the land won’t grow enough food for its people? Or will your enemies constantly defeat you for three months? Or will the Lord send a horrible disease to strike your land for three days? Think about it and decide, because I have to give your answer to God who sent me.

13 David was miserable and said, “It’s a terrible choice to make! But the Lord is kind, and I’d rather have him punish me than for anyone else to do it.”

14 So the Lord sent a horrible disease on Israel, and seventy thousand Israelites died. 15 Then he sent an angel to destroy the city of Jerusalem. But just as the angel was about to do that, the Lord felt sorry for all the suffering he had caused the people, and he told the angel, “Stop! They have suffered enough.” This happened at the threshing place that belonged to Araunah the Jebusite.

16 David saw the Lord’s angel in the air, holding a sword over Jerusalem. He and the leaders of Israel, who were all wearing sackcloth, bowed with their faces to the ground, 

17 and David prayed, “It’s my fault! I sinned by ordering the people to be counted. They have done nothing wrong—they are innocent sheep. Lord God, please punish me and my family. Don’t let the disease wipe out your people.”

18 The Lord’s angel told the prophet Gad to tell David that he must go to Araunah’s threshing place and build an altar in honor of the Lord. 

19 David followed the Lord’s instructions.

20 Araunah and his four sons were threshing wheat at the time, and when they saw the angel, the four sons ran to hide. 

21 Just then, David arrived, and when Araunah saw him, he stopped his work and bowed down.

22 David said, “Would you sell me your threshing place, so I can build an altar on it to the Lord? Then this disease will stop killing the people. I’m willing to pay whatever you say it’s worth.”

23 Araunah answered, “Take it, Your Majesty, and do whatever you want with it. I’ll even give you the oxen for the sacrifice and the wheat for the grain sacrifice. And you can use the threshing-boards for the fire. It’s all yours!”

24 But David replied, “No! I want to pay you what they’re worth. I can’t just take something from you and then offer the Lord a sacrifice that cost me nothing.”

25 So David paid Araunah six hundred gold coins for his threshing place. 

26 David built an altar and offered sacrifices to please the Lord and sacrifices to ask his blessing. David prayed, and the Lord answered him by sending fire down on the altar. 

27 Then the Lord commanded the angel to put the sword away.

28 When David saw that the Lord had answered his prayer, he offered more sacrifices there at the threshing place, 

29-30 because he was afraid of the angel’s sword and did not want to go all the way to Gibeon. That’s where the sacred tent that Moses had made in the desert was kept, as well as the altar where sacrifices were offered to the Lord.

The issue in 1 Chron.21 was not so much that of doing a headcount of the population as it was the motivation behind it. God expected David to trust in HIM and not rely on the numbers of people from which the King could draw an army. David’s actions were reflective of a wrong focus, and a prideful attitude.

Yahweh had given Moses rules regarding going to war, and His expectations were no different for David, from when He instructed Moses: “If you have to go to war, you may find yourselves facing an enemy army that is bigger than yours and that has horses and chariots. But don’t be afraid! The Lord your God rescued you from Egypt, and he will help you fight. Before you march into battle, a priest will go to the front of the army and say, “Soldiers of Israel, listen to me! Today when you go into battle, don’t be afraid of the enemy, and when you see them, don’t panic. The Lord your God will fight alongside you and help you win the battle” (Deut.20:1-4). When God wanted Moses to know how many people there were, He gave specific orders to do so, independent of any military action. When God appointed Gideon to defeat the Midianites, Gideon was paralyzed with fear, initially; but the “Lord said, “Gideon, your army is too big. I can’t let you win with this many soldiers. The Israelites would think that they had won the battle all by themselves and that I didn’t have anything to do with it”(Judges 7:2). It’s actually not that unusual for God to reduce human capability/defences in order for His power to be revealed. God wants His people to trust and to know that HE is in charge. God requires the GLORY be given to HIM; and He does not need human resources for that which He has ordained.

It was a matter of failure to trust and obey that enraged Yahweh.  David was quickly convicted as his “heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I am your servant. But what I did was stupid and terribly wrong. Please forgive me” (1 Chron.21:8). Similarly, all God’s people, privileged to be in a relationship of intimacy with the Father, should receive such conviction when they have done wrong/sinned. Truly born-again disciples of Jesus/Yeshua will be almost immediately convicted of sin,  as intended when Paul says: “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind” (Phil.3:14-16). Unlike the majority of lukewarm believers, Paul is asking to be convicted – that it be revealed to him when he errs – so that he can make things right. The level of truth that is understood by each individual is the standard to which they will be held accountable, thus being convicted when that standard/law has been transgressed. When a line is crossed, there should be conviction, followed by immediate repentance, and an adjustment made.

Just as with King David, it is pride that drives one to take matters into their own hands, deciding on a particular action of choice not sanctioned by God. The leader (or any believer) who becomes a bit too self-assured, will take matters into their own hands, and God will quite well allow it, and put it to good use, bringing that individual to a place of humility and reality. This is what God did in 1 Chronicles chapter 21.  David opened a door to Satan through his prideful attitude and erroneous focus. He thereby followed the lead of a wrong spirit, provoking him to implement the census-taking.  Joab, David’s General, questioned him, advising against it: “Your Majesty, even if the Lord made your kingdom a hundred times larger, you would still rule everyone in it. Why do you need to know how many soldiers there are?”(1 Chron.21:3). “Though warned by Joab, David counted the available soldiers to be assured of his kingdom’s military strength, rather than trusting in God’s complete leadership and control” (CEV, p.762, The Learning Bible, ABS, NY, 1995). Interesting is the realization that Joab, who was quite a carnal character, murderous and violent, and nowhere near David’s walk with the Lord, was the one to point out that this action was not only unnecessary, but would not be to God’s liking. This indicates another variation of the ways in which God works. He will use unbelievers, carnal believers, or whoever as He wishes, to bring correction to His chosen ones/leaders when they err. 

Interesting also, is the fact that God does retract His plan to punish Israel further. Not only had He visited a plague upon the land, but He was intending to bring complete destruction upon Jerusalem; but when David was stricken with grief and immediately not only repented but also interceded for Israel, God relented: “David prayed, and the Lord answered him by sending fire down on the altar. Then the Lord commanded the angel to put the sword away” (1 Chron.21:26,27).

What can we take away from this? Is there a possible parallel here with the current pandemic world situation? Is there something to be gleaned from this? Is this a principle, or is it an isolated event

It would seem that there may be parallels. There may be a principle here – i.e., conviction/repentance/altered behaviour/intercession may reverse the curse, or change God’s intended line of action. That portion of the occurrence would seem to indicate a parallel.

However, what about the difference in the scope/parameters of the population to whom the situation applies? It would seem that here may be a significant intersection, leading to a full stop, perhaps a deadend/no exit street. 

In the case of Israel, King David as leader had the authority, and God’s anointing to stand for his people.  In response to his sincere conviction and repentance, offering up sacrifices and intercession,  the judgment and planned punishment/the curse was reversed. It bore no application to any other peoples or locations, as this was exclusive to Israel. 

In the present world situation, a global pandemic encompassing all nations, pervading and permeating, penetrating all societal and national boundaries and borders would require the collective agreement (in prayer including conviction, repentance, intercession) from all national leaders in order for such total reversal to occur. 

Whether an individual nation could be released from the grip of the plague (or whatever other form such  judgment may assume) on the basis of an individual leader’s conviction/repentance, or the religious leaders and people involved being united in prayer is a separate matter. Perhaps, in the pre-tribulation phase, prior to the formation of the One-world-government leader this would be an option. However, once under the domination of the One-World Government, when all the nations’ leaders have submitted to this authority, there will be no such recourse. And the TRIBULATION PERIOD is non-negotiable, not only in its occurrence, but in its sequence of events and certainty of those events/judgments, for Jesus/Yeshua clearly states right from the top: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place” (Rev.1:1). 


1 Chronicles chapter 21


Judges 7:2





The Learning Bible, CEV, ABS, NY, 1995.

© 2020 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.