"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.'"1
I'm not sure why God didn't want David to take a count of his "armed forces" unless it was that God wanted David to stay dependent on himónot on his military might. At any rate, David went against God's directives and became conscience-stricken.
Conscience can be a tricky thing. We weren't born knowing what was right or wrong but with the ability to learn this. The word "conscience" is comprised of the prefix "con" meaning "with" and "science" meaning "knowledge" and literally means "with knowledge."
At birth our conscience was like a blank tape that was programmed by those who shaped our early life. If you grew up in a rigid, legalistic, punitive home, church or religious group, chances are you will have a rigid, legalistic and punitive conscience. Some of these people feel so controlled, restricted and smothered that they end up rebelling against or even deadening their conscience. On the other hand if you grew up in a very liberal or loose environment, you may do some things God's Word teaches are wrong and not feel a twinge of conscience.
As a result of faulty teaching, some of us sometimes feel guilty (conscience-stricken) when we shouldn't and don't feel conscience-stricken when we should.
As adults, to have a healthy conscience many of us need to deprogram the legalism and other faulty teaching we received in the past, and reprogram our conscience with knowledge based on what God's Word teaches so that we know what is right and what is wrong so our feelings no longer confuse, control or lead us astray.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, sometimes I am confused so please help me to always know what is the right thing to do and the courage to do it. And help me to know what wrong things not to do, and the wisdom and strength not to do themóbased on the truth of your Word and not on the basis of how I feel. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. 2 Samuel 24:10 (NIV).