I believe that all who have read today’s chapter can be sure that it is quite confusing. To begin with, the chapter never mentions the reason for God’s unhappiness with Israel and/or David. We just see that God has allowed things to happen in order to place Israel back where they needed to be. Although not mentioned, we can imagine that perhaps the people of Israel became prideful and overly ambitious. This nation, that not so long ago, started out as twelve brothers has now become, for all intensive purposes, a world power. We could also guess , due to the temptation that God allowed to happen to David, that the king became self sufficient in his own mind. Perhaps he began to listen to the voices around him, the voices that constantly gave him praise, then fell into the trap of accepting the glory for the workings of God. I don’t believe that we can know for sure; but we can know that God was dissatisfied with Israel and her king.
The most difficult question in this chapter derives from the very first verse; in which it states: “Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go number Israel and Judah.'” In this verse we see something that seems to go outside of what we know about God from His Word. Did God, in fact, force David to sin? If this is the case, does the Bible contradict itself? The Bible states in James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” So, believing that the Bible has no errors, and that it does not contradict itself; we need to see what we are missing. We are going to look at another recording of this happening in the Bible, but I want to first take the next paragraph to explain where we are finding it and why it is there again.
The books of first and second Samuel were, at one time, considered to be the first and second book of Kings. This would place what we know now of First and Second Kings to actually become Third and Forth Kings. These books are historical records of the kings of Israel. What causes confusion in these books is the fact that after king Solomon (David’s son) the kingdom became divided. If it were a story of America it would be as if the South would have won the civil war. Our history books would all begin with George Washington as the first president along through our sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. At that point, we would have a divided history of presidents because there would be a confederate president and a union president. This is what has happened in this portion of scripture. First and second Kings chronicle the kings of the northern kingdom (Israel) then First and Second Chronicles chronicle the kings of the Southern kingdom (Judah). So, all of that being said we can see another account of this text in I Chronicles 21:1.
The text in I Chronicles 21:1 states this: “Now Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel…” As we put the two texts next to each other, we of course, see another element. Just as God, in earlier chapters, allowed evil people and evil actions to accomplish His will; we see Him allowing it again. God is sovereign and all powerful and had full knowledge that Satan would tempt David. God also had the foreknowledge to know that David would yield to that temptation. God removed His hand of protection from off of Israel and their king in order to bring about His own will. God did the same to king Pharaoh in the book of Exodus. In the midst of overwhelming proofs that God was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, God allowed Pharaoh’s heart to become hardened. Through the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, the people were able to see the salvation of God and their deliverance from slavery in Egypt.
We do not need anyone to tempt us to sin. We are born with a sin nature that tries to thrive in every aspect of life. No one is able to quench the spirit of dis-obedience and the only reason that we come to repent and produce good works is that God causes it to happen out of His love for us. It states in Philippians 2:13 “For It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” If God decides to pause or remove “His work in us” there is nothing good left. We have nothing without Him.
We see this action of the removing of God’s had, as Israel demanded a king. At this point, God left them to their own evil desires and allowed it. Saul, their first king almost destroyed the nation. Folks, we do not need any help in doing contrary to the will of God; but we need much more than mere “help” in order to accomplish His good works.
Lastly for this chapter we need to realize what the sin of David was, in that he numbered the people, and why Satan would choose something like numbering the people in which to tempt David. The answer lies in man’s pride. David, was going to show the world, along with his own people, what a vast army that they had. King David would then be able to stand with his chest puffed out and say “Look what I have created.” When we, as believers, do not give God the glory; He will put us back in line where we need to be.