2 Samuel 24:1—How can this passage claim that God moved David to number Israel when 1 Chronicles 21:1 claims that it was Satan?

Problem: This passage reports the sin of David in numbering the people of Israel and Judah. Verse one affirms that God moved David to number the people. However, according to 1 Chronicles 21:1, it was Satan who moved David to number the people. Who was responsible for prompting David to act?

Solution: Both statements are true. Although it was Satan who immediately incited David, ultimately it was God who permitted Satan to carry out this provocation. Although it was Satan’s design to destroy David and the people of God, it was God’s purpose to humble David and the people and teach them a valuable spiritual lesson. This situation is quite similar to the first two chapters of Job in which both God and Satan are involved in the suffering of Job. Similarly, both God and Satan are involved in the crucifixion. Satan’s purpose was to destroy the Son of God (John 13:2; 1 Cor 2:8). God’s purpose was to redeem humankind by the death of His Son (Acts 2:14–39).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.