Links Daily Devotional

What Counts?

But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” (2 Samuel 24:3, NIV)

I found myself in the middle of an interesting discussion last week as our group walked from the thirteenth green to the fourteenth tee.

We were not far removed from the twelfth, you see, where play is currently being conducted to a temporary green, while the usual green complex is undergoing a complete renovation. In this transitional season, the hole has been reduced from 340 yards to 130, effectively making the par-4 into a par-3. Of course, neither the scorecard nor the course rating are changed in the meantime. So figuring one’s score against par on the card is a bit awkward right now: Am I 4-over, as the course is playing, or just 3-over, as the card reads?

So I got to thinking and asked my group what the effect might be on all our scores if courses did not announce pars at all—not on the scorecards and not on the tee signs. What if they gave you only yardage? Maybe we’d be bolder, or less fettered to what we should shoot, or—best of all—more content along the way.

Numbers are curious things. And often what they produce in us is not so good.

How many cars in your garage? How many zeroes at the end of your salary? How many grandchildren? How many digits in your handicap? How many years to your marriage?

Do you see the nasty possibility of gross pride—be it open or subtle—in any of those questions? I’m afraid we’ve botched this all quite badly. The best things in life may have no reference point in numbers.

Late in his life, King David assigned the head of his armies, Joab, an unrighteous task. He ordered him to count the fighting men. This was not, at face value, an act against the law of God, yet it is certain that this counting was a sin, for it resulted in a great punishment. Intriguingly, Joab saw through David’s plan from the beginning, and he urged the king to reconsider: “Why would you want to do such a thing?”

Here is what we can say Joab recognized: David was relying on the count of men rather than counting on God. Joab and David had in the past both seen trouble for not consulting the Lord before making an important decision. The Lord had not called for this particular counting as he had done at earlier times. This was to be enacted at David’s own whim or scheme. The king wanted to see the numbers, and Joab could imagine no good reason for this desire. He reminded the king that the LORD was there to strengthen the king and his armies; to count the men was to distrust God.

The lesson is clean and clear. Numbers make the world go around. But we are not, if we follow Christ, beholden to the world. We’re beholden to Jesus. He’s not altogether opposed to numbers. He’s just usually not interested in them. He has more important things to worry about.

Jeff Hopper
July 7, 2014
Copyright 2014 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at