"Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." -1 Chronicles 21:1
God always requires total trust in Him alone for our victories in life. Throughout Scripture we are cautioned not to place our trust in the strength of horses, other men or our own abilities. In 1 Chronicles, David's decision to take a census was a failure to keep his trust totally upon the Lord.
David's purpose in counting his population was to assess his military strength, much like the second census taken under Moses (see Numbers 1:2-3). David found 800,000 men eligible for military service in Israel, and 500,000 men in Judah (see 2 Samuel 24:9), more than double the previous head count.
David's commander evidently recognized the grave error that his king was about to make. "But Joab replied, 'May the Lord multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord's subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?'" (1 Chronicles 21:3).
Joab was right--the census displeased the Lord. David was falling into the temptation of trusting in the size of his army rather than in the Lord. In consequence, God punished David and reduced his forces by bringing a plague that killed 70,000 men.
How do you avoid placing your trust in God today? Do you trust your bank accounts, your skills and the security of your workplace? When you begin to place your faith in these things instead of in the Provider of these things you get into trouble with God.
What a lesson this is for each of us. Today, place your total trust in the Lord for all of your needs.