Did God or Satan Move David to Number Israel? 2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Chronicles 21:1 – Jesse Morrell

Someone sent me this question on My Facebook:

When you get the time, would you mine shining some light for me on 2 Sam. 24:1 and 10? Verse one says that the Lord moved David to number Israel, but verse ten says it was David’s sin. Seems like that might be one of the Calvinist’s “go to” verses

This was my response:

“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 Sam. 24:1

“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” 1 Chron. 21:1

This is from Adam Clarke on 2 Sam. 24:1:

“He moved David against them – God could not be angry with David for numbering the people if he moved him to do it; but in the parallel place (1Ch_21:1) it is expressly said, Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. David, in all probability, slackening in his piety and confidence toward God, and meditating some extension of his dominions without the Divine counsel or command, was naturally curious to know whether the number of fighting men in his empire was sufficient for the work which he had projected. See more on 2Sa_24:10 (note). He therefore orders Joab and the captains to take an exact account of all the effective men in Israel and Judah. God is justly displeased with this conduct, and determines that the props of his vain ambition shall be taken away, either by famine, war, or pestilence.”

This is from Albert Barnes on 2 Sam. 24:1:

“And he moved David – In 1Ch_21:1 the statement is, “and an adversary” (not “Satan,” as the King James Version, since there is no article prefixed, as in Job_1:6; Job_2:1, etc.) “stood up against Israel and moved David,” just as 1Ki_11:14, 1Ki_11:23, 1Ki_11:25 first Hadad, and then Rezon, is said to have been “an adversary” (Satan) to Solomon and to Israel. Hence, our text should be rendered, “For one moved David against them.” We are not told whose advice it was, but some one, who proved himself an enemy to the best interests of David and Israel, urged the king to number the people.”

Even Calvinist John Gill on 2 Sam. 24:1:

“and he moved David against them; not the Lord, but Satan, as may be supplied from 1Ch_21:1; or “it moved him”; the anger of the Lord, as the last mentioned writer interprets it; or the heart of David, as Ben Gersom; that is, the evil imagination of his heart, as Kimchi; the Lord left him to the corruption of his nature, sometimes called Satan, 2Co_12:7; which wrought powerfully in him, and stirred him up to take a step contrary to the interest of Israel, and what was prejudicial to them, as the event showed: it moved him to say; to Joab and his captains”

And even the Geneva Bible Translation Notes said:

“The Lord permitted Satan, as in (1Ch_21:2).”

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary said:

“God, though He cannot tempt any man (Jam_1:13), is frequently described in Scripture as doing what He merely permits to be done; and so, in this case, He permitted Satan to tempt David. Satan was the active mover”

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One Response to Did God or Satan Move David to Number Israel? 2 Samuel 24:1, 1 Chronicles 21:1 – Jesse Morrell

  1. Some interesting commentaries on these verses 🙂

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