David’s great victories and the victories of his family and friends aroused the attention of Satan.  We see him in the first verse of chapter 21 enticing David to look to his great army and to count all his mighty soldiers to see how great he’d become. Earlier David had just the riff-raff of Israel following him. Now, he was the King of the united kingdom. This was something that Saul was unable to bring about. Satan took advantage of David’s great success and used it against him.

Satan’s good at that. When he sees God’s people enjoy victories in life, he immediately looks at ways to turn those victories into defeats of character. He succeeds with David and I expect he often succeeds with me as well.

In C. S. Lewis’ remarkable little book, “The Screwtape Letters,” Satan teaches a minor demon how to tempt a young Christian to sin. He tells his apprentice not to focus on the great sins like murder, adultery, and other sins that are obvious failures in the lives of those who wish to follow the Lord. Rather, he says, “the road to hell is a gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”   Just focus on his success and get him to think of them as something he’s accomplished on his own. The goal is to move one’s focus from God’s providential goodness to him to his own deserving qualities. That will be enough! It is this that will lead David to a census of the people and even to adultery eventually with Bathsheba.

Our Daily Bread once wrote, “After a violent storm one night, a large tree, which over the years had become a stately giant, was found lying across the pathway in a park. Nothing but a splintered stump was left. Closer examination showed that it was rotten at the core because thousands of tiny insects had eaten away at its heart. The weakness of that tree was not brought on by the sudden storm; it began the very moment the first insect nested within its bark.”

The little things can be the most dangerous. 

“Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.” James 4:11