2 Samuel 24:1 says God made David take a census. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan made David take a census Do these passages contradict?
2 Chronicles 21:1
ESV - 1 Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place.
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Did God or Satan make David take a census? 2 Samuel 24:1 says God made David take a census. 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan made David take a census This question needs to be handled with care giving regard to the nature and character of God and the role of Satan as God's adversary and principal enemy of His saints. We must also appreciate the operation of God's permissive and sovereign will over all His creatures including Satan and man. The two verses appear to contradict each other at the outset but in essence they are the works of two independent narrators who were observing the same event from two distinct theological perspectives. The writer of 2 Samuel considers the permissive will of God as he penned his account in 2Sam 24:1. This verse infers that only God could have permitted the census to take place so that His higher purposes are ultimately fulfilled. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). He permitted Satan to try Job but only at His will and subject to the restrictions He permitted (Job1:12). This view agrees with Romans 8:28, which teaches that in all things (whether pleasant or not) God ultimately works for the good of them that love Him, who are called according to His purposes. Our circumstances, however tragic, neither influence nor deflect God's ultimate purposes and neither do they extinguish his sovereign power and grace toward us. We know from David's own life that God used some of his tragic events to work out His will. He used David's marriage to Bathsheba to raise the next King after him but He still punished David for his sins. God also chose out of His sovereign will to reach out to us in Christ while we were yet sinners and legally condemned to die (Romans 5:8). The Chronicler on the other hand viewed the event as the direct result of Satan's instigation so that God is not the author of this act of disobedience, a fact that agrees with James 1:13-15. He recognizes the principal agency of Satan in causing David to disobey God. This is theologically true. Viewed in this context, we see the evil hand of the enemy at work. He tempted the man of God into sin and not once but on several occasions recorded in the Bible. How do we theologically integrate these two verses? If we are agreed that both verses and their broader passage contexts describe the same event from two distinct theological standpoints, then we should view the event in the same way that we would do the variances in the narratives of the Gospels. For instance, how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction between Matthew 15:38 on one hand and the express words of Jesus in Matthew 16:9 which are affirmed by Mark 6:44? (cf. John 6:10, Luke 9:14). If both describe the same event even, then Jesus teaching in Matthew 16:9 corrects the figure mentioned in Matthew 15:38. My view is that the two verses in question do not contradict each other but explain the same event from two positions. The writer of 2Samuel considers that God is supreme and sovereign over all things. Accordingly Satan, however wicked, can never exceed the confines of Gods sovereign will over him. At the same time God, though He tempts no one (Jas.1:13-15) is ultimately sovereign over all that happens to His saints. The integrated theology of these two accounts is that Satan conspired evil against David so that he sinned but God used the consequences of his digression to teach him a vital lesson that God, and not David, was the ultimate King over Israel. David's sin did carry grave consequences because seventy thousand innocent people died from the plague (2Sam 24:15). We can conclude that Satan indeed conspired to bring down David but ultimately God's mercies prevailed over His wrath (2Sam 24:16). Key lesson? God punishes our sin but does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our inequities (Psalm 103:10).
The Scriptures that related the story of David taking a census in israel (2 Sam 24:1,and 1 Chron 21:1), and the consequences of the census, is what I term "consequential reaction from the principles and precepts of GOD". This is same reaction to the rebellion of Satan in heaven, the Disobedience of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, Gen 3, the same reaction to those who shall not receive JESUS CHRIST into their lives and die in sin Rev 1, 20,21. "Consequential reaction" (my coined term) is the result of obeying,or disobeying a laid down principle or precept by GOD. Just like the law of gravitation states that 'whatever goes up, must certainly come down'. The book of Deut 30:19-20: I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing:therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: vs 20...that thou mayest love the LORD thy GOD, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto HIM: for HE is thy life,....states my" law of consequential reaction". God does not have evil in Him, so cannot manufacture nor initiate evil. James 1:17-27. Satan, of course, is the initiator of every evil, he seduces man into disobeying God, so God's consequential reaction to rebellion and sin will have its way on the culprits. Rom 1:28, 2 Cor 13:5-6, 2 Tim 3 - 8-15. ETC. Satan initiated the mechanism (sin:1 chronicles 21:1) that triggered king David into his counting the Israelites, which of course was a terrible sin against GOD. That is the reason king David immediately released himself from the satanic hypnosis or manipulation, ran back to GOD, and begged passionately for forgiveness of his sin, and that of the Israelites.
I.e. how can 1 Chronicles 21:1 claim that Satan or “an adversary” moved David to number Israel when 2 Samuel 24:1 claims that God did? The parallel text in 1 Chr 21:1 says, “An adversary opposed Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had.” The Samuel version gives an underlying theological perspective, while the Chronicler simply describes what happened from a human perspective. The adversary in 1 Chr 21:1 is likely a human enemy, probably a nearby nation whose hostility against Israel pressured David into numbering the people so he could assess his military strength. See the note at 1 Chr 21:1. An adversary 1 opposed 2 Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had. 3 NET © Notes 1 tn Or “Satan.” The Hebrew word שָׂטָן (satan) can refer to an adversary in general or Satan in particular. There is no article accompanying the term here, which suggests it should be understood generally (cf. NAB “a satan”). 2 tn Heb “stood against.” 3 tn Heb “and incited David to count Israel.” As v. 5 indicates, David was not interested in a general census, but in determining how much military strength he had. sn The parallel text in 2 Sam 24:1 says, “The Lord’s anger again raged against Israel and he incited David against them, saying: ‘Go, count Israel and Judah!’“ The version of the incident in the Book of 2 Samuel gives an underlying theological perspective, while the Chronicler simply describes what happened from a human perspective. Many interpreters and translations render the Hebrew שָׂטָן as a proper name here, “Satan” (NEB, NASB, NIV, NRSV). However, the Hebrew term שָׂטָן, which means “adversary,” is used here without the article. Elsewhere when it appears without the article, it refers to a personal or national adversary in the human sphere, the lone exception being Num 22:22, 32, where the angel of the Lord assumes the role of an adversary to Balaam. When referring elsewhere to the spiritual entity known in the NT as Satan, the noun has the article and is used as a title, “the Adversary” (see Job 1:6-9, 12; 2:1-4, 6-7; Zech 3:1-2). In light of usage elsewhere the adversary in 1 Chr 21:1 is likely a human enemy, probably a nearby nation whose hostility against Israel pressured David into numbering the people so he could assess his military strength.
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