Leave it to the poor to count their flocks

Pauperis est numerare pecus—Leave it to the poor to count their flocks.

May Lessons given be our Lessons learned.

My Commanding Officer of my first Submarine assignment, Bill Norris, who was also one of the finest leaders I have ever known, told me one morning in the North Atlantic after hearing me complain about a tedious, seemingly useless procedure,  "Every procedure is written in someone else's blood.".   Meaning that boring, time consuming,  irritating procedure I was complaining about was actually written because of a terrible incident that had taken place about 20 years before.

Lesson given:  David counts the people in 2 Samuel 24.  A great sin before God, serious enough for God to kill 70,000 Israelites.   Question?  Why would it be a sin for David to order a census?

I've read several commentaries on this age old question, of which many are plausible for example the children of Israel will be as the sands of the sea and cannot be counted, Judges Chapters 6 & 7 when Gideon was told he had too many men to go up against the Midianites, and the warning of Exodus 30:12.  However, for me there are some clear reasons that fit in precisely with King David being tempted by Satan to count the Israelites that has direct connections to us Christians today.

God wants his children to stand beyond any measurement or metric for the rudiments of this world, that which is esteemed by the tradition of man which is "always" measured by size and numbers. 

The World's system: The bigger the numbers the better. Strength in numbers, Polls are proven by statistics and we're programmed that numbers don't lie whereas in reality numbers are continually manipulated.   We being treasures in earthen vessels are incapable of doing this and therefore must completely surrender ourselves to Jesus Christ.  Read Galatians 2:20 KJV

The same goes with our bank accounts, our credit card limits the size of our home, the number of our friends, the number of followers we have on our social media accounts.  Those who are continually counting their coins, followers, statistics, income and continually talking about these things are proving the depths of their carnal attachment and slavery to this world. 

In Exodus 30:12 God tells Moses that in order to prevent the people from being stricken with a plague from a census, an atonement payment (a ransom for their souls) must be paid for each and every person counted. Note: God punished Israel following David's illegal census by a plague that killed 70,000 souls.  2 Samuel 24. 

Since Jesus Christ paid our ransom in full, we are covered by His precious blood. However when a Christian walks outside of God's will, walking in the flesh and not in the Spirit, we are walking in condemnation. Read Romans 8:1 KJV carefully. 

David certainly belonged to God and not Satan. However, when tempted by Satan to take an illegal census, David was severely punished and asked to pick his poison.   God will not be mocked.

God does not want his children to be "preoccupied" with counting anything! Those who call
themselves Christians who are continually preoccupied with "counting" - (the numerical result of reckoning; to esteem, consider, regard and depend upon; judge by or as the result of calculation; to establish the importance or value as the result of calculation in order to depend and rely upon) - are spiritually poor - in the same way the poor are continually preoccupied with money issues.

I invite you to study a wonderful commentary by Matthew Henry on

2 Samuel 24


  1. Thank you for posting this very informative and Biblical lesson.
    I must confess I was guilty of this "numerical" value with my previous blog "Into His Fullness", this fleshly trait, amongst other reasons, fed my discouragement....which caused me to say "what's the use", so I thank the Lord for causing you to write this, because this is something I did not consider much as sin.....but alas it is so. It feeds the sin of pride, of self-worth.
    I have very often stated it is more about "quality" over "quantity", and yet I have been found wanting in hypocrisy. I have asked the Lord for forgiveness for this, and by His Grace I shall no longer allow this subtle pride to trip me up.
    Thank you.......
    No matter how long we have lived our lives as followers, there is so much we need to learn, as Paul stated: "Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."

    However I do have a question in regards to Exodus 32:12, it would seem that this consensus was very much different than the one with David. This numbering was for the tribute payment In service for the Tabernacle. Matthew Henry has this to say concerning this, " Hereby they acknowledged that they received their lives from God, that they had forfeited their lives to him, and that they depended upon his power and patience for the continuance of them; and thus they did homage to the God of their lives, and deprecated those plagues which their sins had deserved. 3. This money that was raised was to be employed in the service of the tabernacle (Exo_30:16);" and this does witness to me.....I would just appreciate clarification on what your position on this is because I am a bit confused. I ask for your forbearance regarding my question.....Thank you dear brother..... In His Love....

    1. Amen! I also felt a conviction on how I get caught up with numbers in order to rate, rank and judge leading to pride. Thank you Brother.

    2. Yes, from my study on the subject, The Exodus 32:12 Census was very different from David's on many levels. It would be interesting to explore more.. However the consequences would have been same with 2 Samuel and Exodus 32 if anyone would have entered without the payment > they would be cursed with a plague. I believe Exodus 32:12 served as an indictment against David and the punishment the corresponding plague because David was outside of God's will in the count and clearly tempted by Satan. The similarity between David and the church age Christian who willingly sins, even though saved, both will still suffer God's correction. The interesting paradox for me personally is the Exodus 32:12 Census was covered by God and approved in the same way we Christians are covered by the blood in our dealings IN this World. But if we walk in the flesh we're under condemnation. Since David, as Abraham and the other OT Saints were imputed as righteous by God, then why would David's atonement (ransom for the soul, a perfect type and shadow of the cross) be subject to such a severe punishment? The answer certainly has to be the age of grace vs the dispensation of the law. As far as money raised for the service of the tabernacle, I'd like to hear your thoughts. Thank you Brother.

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    1. Powerful! Amen Brother! Thank you for adding such depth.


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