2 Samuel 24
David Enrolls the Fighting Men
1 Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.
1 Chronicles 21
David Counts the Fighting Men
1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.”
Observation: There is nothing that is beyond the control of God, or outside the range of His influence.
Application: Today I just can’t get past the comparison of these two verses. Normally I like to stay with one section of scripture but today I couldn’t get unwrapped from this, perhaps we can reason together. I welcome your comments.
2 Sam 24 and 1 Chro 21 tell the same story – David decides to take a census of Israel which is something that is sinful before God. I’m not sure why it was sinful, but that’s not what I want to focus on anyway. He later repents, and Israel suffers from a three day plague where 70,000 people die, and finally as David intercedes before God on behalf of the people a new alter is erected on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.
I’m sure you know already, by reading the two verses above where I’m going with this. In 2 Sam 24, it is God who gets angry, and he incites David against the nation, however in 1 Chronicles 21 its not God, but rather Satan who rose up against Israel and incited David to take the census.
There is no doubt that this is the same story retold. In fact this re-telling of the same events is a frequent thing between these books. So was it God, or was it Satan who got to David?
There are a few things we can do here as far as I see. First, we can say, its just two different versions of the same story told by two different people, and they both saw that one part in different perspectives. Or we can say, since Israel was actually divided up into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, that these stories both came from different areas of the country, one from the North (Israel) and the other from the South (Judah) they both had slightly different details but got the biggest part of the story the same. Oh we could also say that one story is older than the other, and as time went on people started understanding the concept of Satan, where before they didn’t so the older story says God did it and the newer version says Satan. The only problem with these thoughts is, they tend to lead to the conclusion that at least one of the stories is incorrect.
If we believe that the Bible is exactly what God meant for it to be, then we have to find a way to merge these two things, and see that they compliment one another. So if God incited David, perhaps he used Satan as the means of accomplishing that. Satan therefore is under the authority and control of God, and is actually a tool of God which he uses to accomplish his purposes. There is nothing outside of the range of God, He is God of ALL!
Another way of seeing it is in the wording of 2 Sam 24 “the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he …” The Anger of the Lord, perhaps this is a reference to Satan. I know that one may seem a little “out there,” but think about it, we have the Angel of the Lord set to destroy Jerusalem when he’s stopped by God himself on the threshing floor later in the chapter. The Angel of the Lord, is not God himself, but a servant of God, perhaps we have not understood that the anger of the Lord is also a servant of God and not God himself.
This is something I think we could spend a lot more time and study on, but I am going to refrain from writing an epic post that takes an hour to read. I welcome your comments and thank you for your willingness to wrestle with the deeper understandings of God’s word with me.
Prayer: Heavenly Father,
I thank you for the wisdom of your word. Help me to study and show myself approved by you, help me to reason through the challenges I face within, and learn always to trust and lean on you more and more.