Numbers are everywhere. They count my blog followers, posts viewed, tweets tweeted, and comments made. Social sites record my friendships and display which and how many of my friends like my updates. To find a total calculation of my online worth, I have only to check my klout score. A writer can also count reviews, rankings, and sales figures. Numbers these days sometimes seem more important than people.
Is it just me, or has the entire connecting and networking world collectively reverted to one huge high school popularity contest?
In the Biblical book of 2 Samuel, King David directed that his fighting men be counted. Joab, the army commander, urged him to reconsider. David overruled Joab, even when his army commanders protested, too. Why did they object? Perhaps they understood David’s motive as pride, the very sin that catapulted Lucifer from heaven.
David would listen to no one, and so 800,000 able-bodied men in Israel and 500,000 in Judah were enumerated. When David received the report, his conscience smote him, but it was too late to take back his sin. In the plague that followed, 70,000 of David’s people died as punishment for his sin and also for Israel’s rebellion against God.
Does this mean that keeping track of statistics is wrong? Yes, and no. Remember that at other times in the Bible, God directed the people to be counted. Knowing your numbers can be a useful tool, but pride in numbers does not please God. He wants us to look to His strength and not our own. He’s the same God who cut the huge army Gideon gathered down to size just to prove that victory would come not from human might but from the hand of God (Judges 7).
Once my pastor lifted my small daughter into his arms and pointed out to the congregation that it was her birthday and she was now four. She turned an unblinking stare on him. “I am not a number.” Her pronouncement, spoken with conviction, reached to the back of the church. While the congregation laughed, my face heated, and I sank down in my seat. Now I wonder if my preschooler wasn’t onto something many adults fail to understand.
I am not a number, and neither are you.