“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” – Proverbs 12:15
No person is above needing counsel–not the greatest leader nor the most knowledgeable, wise person you can think of—no pastor, president, nor CEO. You and I are not above needing counsel. Believing we should make all decisions on our own and according to our own reasoning is a deceptive lie. The story of King David illustrates this truth. As Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Our responsibility as Christians is to steward this life well which can only be assured through wise decision making and seeking Godly counsel.
David has become King and is conquering peoples in Israel, only by God’s favor and direction and with God at his side. Just three chapters before in chapter seventeen God tells David that his offspring will establish a throne that lasts FOREVER (Jesus)! Wow, what a privilege to be in the genealogy of the Messiah! Obviously David had to be a righteous man!
Throughout the old testament books of Kings and Chronicles, king after king rises, meets calamity, and falls because they govern their people in a way that is appalling to God. They experience destruction and punishment because they “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from” their sin (2 Kings 17:2, 1 Kings 22:52, 2 Chronicles 36:12, 2 Kings 21:2, and MULTITUDES more). This phrase is seen over and over in the bible as king after king pursues sin instead of God. The few kings who have enormous success turn away from the sin and thus God’s favor is with them.
God says to David, “I declare to you that the Lord will build a house for you. When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, who will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from you predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom foever; his throne will be established forever ” (1Chronicles 17:11-14). In other words, David is a temporary King on earth but from his genealogy will a King be born that lasts forever. A King whose father is God. A King whose throne no one can overthrow. Jesus the Messiah and King of Kings will be born in the line of David.
As expected, David has a Godly, humble reaction. He gives full credit to God and illustrates that he knows he doesn’t deserve such an unfathomably awesome blessing. David goes and sits before God praising him, worshiping him, and thanking him (1 Chronicles 17:16-27).
THEN in 1 Chronicles 21:1, “Satan rose up against Israel and incited to David to take a census of Israel.”
Satan is now stirring King David? Just five chapters after God blesses David and David has the most humble, God-glorifying reaction? David the King whose line will bear Jesus Christ, King of all Kings, Lord of Lords, Inheritor of the everlasting throne is being enticed by Satan?
Despite David’s status, Satan provokes him and he falls for it.
Ramifications of Rejecting Counsel
David’s temptation comes in the form of putting trust in himself and his strength instead of in The Lord. Satan rose up against Israel and provoked David to take a census of Israel to see how many men he had who could go into battle. Upon receiving the instructions to take a census, Joab, who was David’s commander in chief and counselor, questioned David’s instruction. Joab recognized a problem with the census request and said,”Why should [King David] bring guilt on Israel?” (2 Chronicles 21:3). Joab reminded David of God’s faithfulness and how God was to be trusted instead of taking the census, but David ignored Joab’s wise counsel. Notice Joab was bold to speak truth to David and remind him of God’s faithfulness while he counseled him to not move forward with his decision, despite David’s rejection of that counsel.
Joab recognized the temptation Satan had provoked King David to, the sin that was about to be committed, and the after affects of that sin. He offered Godly Counsel to King David to stop him, but in His pride King David “overruled Joab”. Reluctantly but loyally, Joab obeyed King David although it was “repulsive to him” and “evil in the sight of God” (v6-7). The census counted over one MILLION men who could fight for David.
Because David rejected the Godly counsel and went forward with Satan’s request, God punished Isreal severely. He did not punish David directly or solely but punished all the people David was leading and responsible for. You see, David’s poor decision to reject Godly counsel not only affected him but resulted in multitudes of people losing their lives and suffering. The leader’s people were punished as a result all because the leader listened to Satan, did not heed Joab’s Godly counsel, and pursued the sin.
David may could have recognized Satan invoking him, but he definitely could have heeded Godly Counsel. His counsel’s advice was based on truth. In his pride he refused.
David realized after the census was taken the wrong he had committed. He recognized his sin and asked for God to take the guilt away. God told David that consequences would have to be dealt out and gave him a choice of three consequences: 3 years of famine, 3 months of enemy’s overtaking, 3 days of the sword of the Lord. David recognized that his people would suffer for his wrong doing and said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the census and the one who has sinned and done wrong? My people are but sheep! They haven’t done anything! Punish me and my family but not your people!” (1 Chronicles 21:17). When a leader sins against God and thus His people, the people suffer immensely. David proves that a leader’s decisions directly effect his people, thus why high standards and integrity are of upmost importance. He didn’t want his people to suffer but he couldn’t choose the consequences. The sin he chose yielded the consequences. All sin has consequences. All sin has punishment. All sin must be atoned for. Sin must be paid for with bloodshed.
70,000 people in Israel died as a result of David rejecting the Godly counsel.
The Importance of Godly Counsel
If King David, ruler of Israel and predecessor of the line of Jesus needed counsel, leaders (and all Christians) today need to be sure they are under right counsel. Satan can still influence Godly leaders, often through pride believing their leadership decisions are above needing advisers and trust in their own strength instead of God’s strength. More damage is done than to just the leader. The people will suffer far greater than the leader. Despite David’s status as favored king and bearer of the line of the Messiah, Satan still provoked him and He fell for it. Its also important to remember here that despite David’s great mistake, Jesus was still born in his genealogy. God didn’t rescind his promise or change his mind. As much as we can mess up, God will still accomplish his purposes and achieve what he plans (Isaiah 55:11).
An enormous responsibility comes with being a leader. People’s lives physically or spiritually may be at risk. This story shows us the importance of seeking and heeding the Godly counsel. No matter how great the leader is, if he is not Jesus Christ, counsel is imperative to the protection of the leader and his or her people.