“Counting Soldiers”

Pastor David Moore

New Testament reading: Philippians 2:12-18 (NRSV)  

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence but much more  now in my absence, work on your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.  

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world, holding forth the word of life so that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.  

But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the service of your faith, I rejoice,  and I rejoice together with all of you; in the same way also you should rejoice and rejoice together with me.  

Theme today: David is struggling with growth in his life. David learns a valuable lesson to follow God’s direction versus man’s moral pragmatism.  

Old Testament reading: 2 Samuel 24:10-21 (NIV)  

David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant.  I have done a very foolish thing.”  

Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David’s  seer: “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’”  

So Gad went to David and said to him, 

Shall there come upon you three years of famine in your land?
      Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? 

 Or three days of plague in your land?
      Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” 

David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress.  Let us fall into the hands of the LORD, for His mercy is great;  but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”  

So the LORD sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of  Araunah the Jebusite.  

When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, “I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family.”  

On that day Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” So David went up as the LORD commanded through Gad.  When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.  

Araunah said, “Why had my lord the king come to his servant?”  

“To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague  on the people may be stopped.”


-Pragmatic Ethics (cont’d): evil, for the pragmatist, is that which is counterproductive. It is (usually) a breaking of a civil or criminal law.  

-The pragmatist looks for guidance from the group.  

-Will base moral judgments on what is best for the greatest number of people.  

Why does God respond with grace to David, unlike what He did to Saul? Why was counting fighting men such a big deal? The answer is because God said so. ~D. Moore  

What did David say when offered the choice of calamities for punishment? I would rather not be in the hands of men, I put myself in the hands of God. ~D. Moore  

Israel was different in the way the nation was supposed to conduct itself. The power was supposed to be based on Yahweh, not how many fighting men they had. The system wasn’t supposed to be about power and exploitation, but justice. ~D. Moore  

When you look at the commands given to Saul, and they seemed harsh, God wanted the war against them to be a war of justice. ~D. Moore  

Mostly doesn’t count. Mostly counts as not obeying. We can either operate on the basics of justice and mercy and say my life for yours, like Jesus did. Or we operate on power and exploitation and say your life is mine. ~D. Moore  

David’s confidence was supposed to be in God, not in the number of men or chariots, but in God’s spirit.  ~D. Moore  

It is easy to be sucked into the deceptive mindset, but David, willingly says, “I’d rather be in God’s hands than in the hands of men.”  

David responds wisely – he repented because he has a heart after God. The more mature a follower of Jesus is, the faster they/we repent.  The more we know God, the faster our hearts see sin and get the sin out of our lives. ~D. Moore  

The answer to power is in serving God, He did not send His son to destroy evil with a sword, but to take the sword Himself so He would destroy evil without evil destroying us. ~D. Moore  

God sent His son to live a sacrificial life of service, and that is how we, too, triumph over evil. ~D. Moore  

This week: Trust the God of the universe. God is calling us to a life of service in our family, in our job, in our community. God has put us here for a reason (service) for others, we are sowing His word with the world.  

God bless and keep serving.