THE NUMBER WAS NOT ENTERED

Today's devotion from 1 Chronicles 27.

In a chapter devoted to the numbering of something as important as the military and the stewards of the king's personal assets, it seems rather odd to find that something was left intentionally uncounted. Especially if that asset was none other than able-bodied young men growing close to their prime. However, this snippet in verse 23 provides little information. It's down right cryptic, in fact. What does God's promise regarding the population have to do with numbering those under the age of twenty?

There is some discussion on what is happening here. Some believe that this is a reference to David's previous census that caused so much pain in Israel. Others believe this is an affirmation of the fact that David learned his lesson. They read these verses as revealing a later census for the purpose of David's organization, and see that (1) David believed God's promise and (2) God blessed in David's administrative work.

 

We may not ever know for certain exactly which way we should take this. However, there is something we should know. Look at the conclusion of verse 24. They started counting, but God's wrath was kindled, so they stopped. Now consider the next words. What is the chronicler letting us know about this event? In comparison to pleasing and honoring God, the numbers don't matter. It's better to just forget they were ever there than to try to record the  known number.

Consider the nuanced details that have been recorded by the chronicler. He lists numbers of people, genealogies, stewards and managers, soldiers, etc. We have been inundated with numbers. In reality, the book written by the chronicler is a sort of ledger for the reign of David. Yet, even in a book so consumed with numbers and accounting, the chronicler knows that there are some numbers better not known.

We can speculate about reasoning. Some will see this limitation as evidence of an age of accountability. Others would interpret it another way. I see it from my own skewed perspective of a type of accountability melded with God creating margins. Children weren't to be sent to their parents' wars, but maybe part of the reasoning behind that is similar to the reason God told them not to glean to the edges of their fields in harvest...leave some for others?

Either way, reasoning is speculation, but the revelation is solid: trust God to know better. Like David, you might be in a situation where you really want all the facts and figures. Maybe you want them so that you can make a rational decision? Maybe you want them for pride? It really doesn't matter. God has asked that you trust Him, your source, not your resources.