Who Incited David?

2 Samuel 24:1 (ESV)
1  Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

1 Chronicles 21:1-2 (ESV)
1  Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.
2  So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.”

2 Samuel 24 is a difficult passage and is seen by many as a contradiction. Did God incite David to number Israel and then get angry with him for doing so? What about 1 Chronicles that says Satan, not God, tempted David to count Israel. Was it God or Satan who incited David? God could not be angry with David for numbering the people if he moved him to do it, so I believe we can say that it was Satan and not God that incited David, however both can be true. We don’t know what exactly David’s sin is in this chapter, but many think it is probably David’s lack of confidence and faith toward God. David wanted to know his military power instead of trusting in the LORD, his sin was putting his faith in his army rather than God.

Because God’s authority extends even over Satan. God can use Satan to accomplish His ultimate will by simply giving permission to Satan to do that which Satan already desires to do. This can be seen in many places in scripture, especially in Job 1:8-13. We also know from Acts 4:27-28 that this was the case in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Evil men killed Jesus, yet at the same time it was predetermined by God that this would happen, ultimately for his purpose and glory. God allows Satan and his demons to work evil, yet ultimately even this is used for God’s glory. All of this is done without God sinning and demonstrates God’s absolute sovereignty over all creation.

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