1 Chronicles 21:1-3—And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord’s servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel?
David’s kingdom was established and blessed. His enemies were subdued and paying tribute. When the spiritual enemy could not attack from without, he attacked from within. Satan can inspire men to attack the people of God. When that fails, he will try to corrupt the people of God through their thought life. What was so evil about numbering the people? David had already learned again and again that the victory was not about superior forces but the blessing and leading of God. Numbering the nation was a way to count on his physical resources. What does it matter how many men you have prepared for battle if God is not with you? This is contrary to lesson upon lesson that God had shown David. Even Joab, the commander of the army, knew this was a mistake. Joab got to the point when he said, “May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over.” It was not just a census on David’s heart, but able bodied men. He pleaded with the king not to go through with this sin, but the king did not listen.