Who Incited David to Number Israel, God or Satan?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning who incited David to number Israel. The argument is that 2 Samuel 24:1 says that the Lord incited, or moved, David to number Israel, but 1 Chronicles 21:1 says that Satan moved David to number Israel. However, the answer to this alleged contradiction in the Bible is simple.

Scriptures – Who Incited David to Number Israel, God or Satan?

The Lord Moved David

Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

2 Samuel 24:1

Satan Moved David

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.

1 Chronicles 21:1

The Answer – Who Incited David to Number Israel, God or Satan?

God Is Sovereign Over, and Uses, Satan in His Plans

The simple answer is that both God and Satan incited, or moved, David to number Israel. The Bible teaches that God is completely sovereign over creation, so, in a sense, God is the ultimate cause of everything that happens in the universe.

Sometimes God uses means to accomplish his purpose. For example, God’s sovereignty extends even over Satan, and God uses Satan as part of his plan for creation. However, this does not mean that Satan is God, that God is Satan, or that God is morally responsible for the actions of Satan.

Rather, Satan, is a “secondary cause” who is himself guilty of his own actions. God being sovereign over Satan does not make God guilty of the things Satan does.

This is similar to what happens in the book of Job, where God “permits” Satan to inflict harm upon Job, yet Job ascribes what happens to him to God himself, and the Bible says that Job spoke accurately:

21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job 1:21-22

So, although Satan does act, and Satan is guilty for his actions, it would still be accurate to say that Satan can do absolutely nothing apart from God’s complete sovereignty, control, and plan.

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

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