Interesting how on American currency it says, "In God We Trust", but in reality Americans have placed their trust in that currency they are holding.
In 2 Samuel 24 anybody can read how King David decided to take a census of all his fighting men. This was an interesting move observing David's track record with the Lord. The Lord had always favored David in his battles, so for David to stop trusting the Lord and place it in the number of troops he had in the land was a mistake. David had a friend in the court, Joab, who warned him that this was not such a great idea. "But Joab replied to the king, 'May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?'" Maybe it was success that blinded King David to these words of caution, but whatever the cause - "The king's word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel." (v.4)
The unfortunate thing with us, most of the time it seems, is that we see our mistake and come to our senses a little to late. David was no different in this scenario. Verse 10 says, "David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men and he said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, O Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing." Talk about a big, affirmative head-nod from God. Scripture records the Lord responding to David's prayer before the sun rose the next day. "Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad, the prophet, David's seer:" (v.11) This speaks volumes to me about how important this lesson was to God due to His quick response time. God may respond by a longer time interval in other lessons, but this instance was expeditious.
God's answer to David was interesting. Have your parents ever given you the choice of your punishment from a list of multiple considerations? That is exactly what the Lord did. "Go and tell David, 'This is what the Lord says, I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.'" (v.12)
Let's skip forward a bit. David hears the list of punishments to pick from and then does a curious thing - he places the decision of which punishment to administer back into God's hands. "David said to Gad, 'I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.'" (v.14)
Now, why would David do such a thing? If we return to the Parent-Child analogy and I am the child, I believe I would keep the decision in my court because I am going to choose the lesser of all "hurtings". Shall we take a look at what David had to select from now? Behind door number one - "three years of famine in your land". Door number two - "three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you". Finally, behind door number three - "three days of plague in your land". (v.13) The length of time might shorten from three years to three months to three days, but the punishment level increases from famine to enemies to plague to match the descending duration. So, instead of splitting the difference I believe David's true senses finally returned and he realized that Father God knows best even in disciplining His own and relinquished judgment back into God's hands - "for his mercy is great".
Another avenue David explored was national sacrifice. He offered himself and his family to God after seeing the actual angel of the plague and 70,000 people dead because of him. David admitted that the wrong was his in the first place and questioned why others had to be punished. Here is how the Scripture reads, "When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, 'I am the one who has sinned and done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall upon me and my family.'" (v.17) Here is a huge example, in another country, thousands of years ago, why believers should pray for their leaders every chance they get.
Fast forward to present-day America. Among many additional reasons, I believe our lost of trust in God has created the environment ripe for judgment, especially financial since that is now what America considers their God. The currency might as well say, "In Us We Trust". This is dangerous because God has been called the ultimate gentleman - yielding to our choices and then hearing our cries of "get me out of this mess and I promise...." later on when the situation fails miserably. David placed his trust in the number of men in his army and he paid for it with a three-day national plague. In my opinion, Americans have been surrendering their trust since the Gold Rush. Our national history might have had some distractions along the way to prolong the impending judgment, but it seems our eyes are now fully fixed on the mighty dollar and our backs are turned toward God. God help us!