1 Chronicles 21:1 “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”
Distractions are a part of life. Sometimes distractions can be pleasant if they are enjoyable. Other times they are annoying because they keep us from finishing a project. But every once in a while distractions can be devastating!
First Chronicles gives a history of the most famous kings of Israel. David the shepherd boy rose from the lowest position in his family to one of the most powerful monarchs of the nation. God chose David to lead His people and was pleased with David’s devotion to following His commands. David was not a perfect man and made many mistakes, but throughout his life he sought to do what God asked. His devotion and love for the Almighty gained him the title “A man after God’s own heart.” God blessed this king, gave him some special promises, and spread his fame throughout the surrounding lands.
A Devastating Distraction
The Chronicler chose to overlook some of the more sordid details of David’s life and yet he did record a certain unplanned distraction that threw the king for a loop. Two little words – “THEN SATAN” – precipitated the turning point for a scenario change. After a great victory celebration over Philistine giants, Satan distracted David from his God-focus by planting the idea to number the people of Israel in his mind. We do not know exactly why this census was a bad idea, but likely David had turned his eyes away from God’s power and become focused on his own might in numbers.
Joab, the captain of the army tried to dissuade the king from making this grave mistake, but David was determined and went ahead with his plan. This distraction greatly displeased God who stepped in to show David the error of his ways and to shift David’s focus where it belonged. He struck Israel, causing David to recognize his actions as sin and repent. God gave the king three choices: three years of famine; three months of warfare, or three days of pestilence. David chose the pestilence in light of God’s merciful nature, reasoning that God would be kinder than men would be.
Seventy thousand men fell as a result of the pestilence, but when the angel of the Lord reached the city of Jerusalem, God had mercy and stayed his hand. At the Lord’s command David purchased the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite and built an altar there. The King offered sacrifices and God accepted them with fire from heaven. The plague was removed.
David’s distraction in falling to Satan’s ploy caused seventy thousand men of Israel to die. What a price to pay for a loss of focus! Yet, the very place where David repented and God demonstrated mercy ultimately became the building site for the temple, the center of worship for the nation.
Distractions For Today
Today distractions are still a huge problem. All sorts of things can tap us on the shoulder and shift our focus away from the One Who needs to be the center of our life. We may be seeking to follow God but – THEN SATAN – tempts us to rely on our personal strengths or character traits. Believing our ticket to success depends more on our talents than on God’s power we strive to improve ourselves and calculate our net worth based on human standards. This is always a grave mistake!
All of us will experience a periodic distraction from time to time. It is just part of life. But make sure you don’t lose your focus. Don’t get so caught up in celebrating personal victories that you forget how the battles were won. They were not by your incredible talents, personal strengths, or great numbers, but only through the power of the One who needs to stay at the center of your life. Keep your focus on the Lord. This is the way to avoid devastating distractions!