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April 11, 2024 - 1 Chronicles 21-22

A really interesting story, here:  “Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.  So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.’ . . . But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel” ( 21:1,7).  We should be alerted immediately that that which is about to take place is not good:  “Then Satan . . . incited . . .”  But the question haunts us, “Is there anything so terribly wrong with doing a census of fighting troops?

 

Steve Fuller considers how Screwtape (in C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters) might have instructed his nephew, Wormwood (Keep in mind that “the Enemy,” for Screwtape, is God.  “The patient” is a believer.).

 

My dear Wormwood,

 

Your recent letter concerned me.

 

You sound pleased with the trials you are bringing your patient.  You think the layoff and financial pressures and flu will automatically bring him to us.

 

Don’t you understand that as long as your patient is trusting the Enemy — trials do nothing?

 

In fact, if he is trusting the Enemy — every trial will draw the patient closer to the Enemy — and further from us.

 

Remember what I taught you.  If the patient just looks to the Enemy with faith — even weak faith — the Enemy will immediately strengthen him, comfort him, help him — and your flaming darts will bounce off him (Eph 6:16).

 

David’s problem seems to have been that he did not fully trust God to keep his people, Israel.  He found himself trusting in horses and chariots and troops (Psalm 20:7) rather than God.  Satan would keep us from looking to God with faith but we can trust God, always!  The reformer Martin Luther understood.

 

Did we in our own strength confide,

our striving would be losing,

were not the right Man on our side,

the Man of God's own choosing.

You ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is he;

Lord Sabaoth his name,

from age to age the same;

and he must win the battle.   –Martin Luther (1529)

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