2 Samuel 24:1 says, “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah,” and 1 Chronicles 21:1 says “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.”
These 2 verses sound like very contradictory statements; let me try to explain what I’ve discovered without confusing it more. In 2 Samuel 24:1, where it says “he moved David,” the word “he” isn’t necessarily referring to God; in fact, the Hebrew can be translated “it.” In 1 Chronicles 21:1, the name “Satan” should probably be translated “an adversary;” it’s true that Satan was behind the scenes motivating, but this was most probably a person/people that incited David to number Israel. So, 1 Chronicles lets us know that an adversary stood up to Israel (in some fashion) and David then decided it would be good to number the soldiers in Israel. 2 Samuel starts with a heading or title of sorts: “the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel,” then it states an unnamed “he” or “it” moved David to number Israel. This may not completely clarify the verses, but I wanted to share what I did to show the LORD did not contradict Himself in His Word.
Now, let’s try to answer two more questions someone may have.
What was so wrong with numbering the soldiers of Israel? First off, God never said to do it. Second, this was an action that revealed trust in their army instead of the strength of the LORD; in a word this was pride.
Why was God angry with Israel?
It don’t know that it specifically says, but it may have been because of how the people followed Absalom when he asserted himself into power.
If you have thoughts or questions on these chapters, please include them in the comments
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan