David and the Adversary
Many believers are unaware of the magnitude of the spiritual war that goes on all around us. Satan and the forces of darkness are waging a vicious battle against God, the Jewish people, and the church of Jesus Christ. In his effort to corrupt and destroy the church, Satan sees to it that Christians are tortured, mutilated, and persecuted while the world looks the other way. But before the church arrived in Acts 2, Satan concentrated the bulk of his efforts on trying to corrupt and destroy Israel.
The word Satan is Hebrew and means “adversary.” Since his rebellion, the angel Lucifer has been the satan, or adversary, of the Lord and His servants.
King David of Israel learned of this reality in 1 Chronicles 21:1–30: “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number [take a census of] Israel” (v. 1). On the surface, this action might not seem like such a bad thing. But David was to trust in God, not in his military strength. In yielding to this temptation, David blatantly rejected the Lord. Even David’s chief general, Joab—not known for his spirituality—opposed this action and tried unsuccessfully to talk David out of it (v. 3). The result was that the Lord became angry and sent judgment because David evidenced a lack of faith in God’s divine protection.
Often we find ourselves facing similar temptations because Satan is our adversary, too. He is bent on separating us from the blessing, security, and joy that are present when we trust in and rely on the Lord alone. We must not “number our fighting men” and set out on our own; we must trust God and remain under His protection. For when we step out on our own, we become vulnerable to the Evil One who provokes us to distrust the Lord and all He has promised to accomplish.
David repented, but the cost of his faithlessness was great. As believers, we must be aware of our adversary and understand his intentions and methodology. We also must endeavor to withstand his onslaught and remain faithful to our loving Lord, who will always remain faithful to us: “If we are faithless He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).