Statistics or Faith?

Statistics or Faith?

13 May 2009


Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly and shouldn’t have taken the census. Please forgive me for doing this foolish thing.” (1 Chronicles 21:8 NLT)

Then David prayed, “I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin—I’ve been really stupid.” (1 Chronicles 21:8 The Message)

David commissioned a census of all of Israel and Judah – a head count of the fighting men who were available to serve in the army. God brought sudden and painful judgment on the nation because of what David did.

The sin in this act was not so much about wanting to know how many people were in Israel or how many soldiers were in the army. It was about David calculating whether he had enough soldiers to take on an empire-building campaign. It was about replacing faith and obedience with statistics. Up to now David had obeyed God’s commission to drive the Canaanites out of the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. He had trusted God that no matter how large the opposing forces, he would be victorious because it was God’s battle he was fighting.

Now he was thinking like a kingdom-building emperor instead of a sheep-caring shepherd.

So when do statistics replace faith?
• When statistics rather than God’s word are the basis for deciding what to do next.
• When statistics move us from fulfilling God’s commission to building our empire.
• When statistics compare us with others, producing pride or envy.
• When statistics rather than faith and obedience are the basis for measuring success.


Father, I want to be a wise user of statistics. Help me to use statistics to do better at what you want me to do, but never to decide whether to act on your word.

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