David made to sin?

(Jamie Hobbs) #1

I understand the orthodox message here, but if I’m honest, I’m tripping over the words. In 2 Sam 24, verse 1 says: “Again the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” The Lord “moved” David to take a census. But in verse 10, we see David having remorse that he took the census: "And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’”

The Lord moved David to sin? That doesn’t seem right. What am I missing? Did he take the census in an improper fashion (Joab did advise him not to do it)? Did he perhaps extort money from the people in the accompanying tax that was required when taking a census (Exodus 30)? Is there evidence of that elsewhere in the Bible?

(SeanO) #2

@Jamie_Hobbs Good question. The most common response is that God allowed satan to tempt David and David sinned because he placed his confidence in the strength of his army rather than in God. Feel free to dig deeper on this one. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and peace in this matter.

We have precedence with Hezekiah for God testing the heart of the King’s of Israel:

2 Chronicles 32:31 - But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.

Hank Hanegraaff’s response to a question regarding this passage:

Why was the census wrong?

The most clear explanation is that David had grown proud and believed he would win by military might. He had taken his eyes off of God and instead begun to have pride in his military assets. This makes even more sense when we consider the punishments he could choose from included having to flee before his enemies - a punishment he specifically rejects in favor of placing himself in the hands of God.

In fact, perhaps God chose these 3 punishments specifically to give David a chance to choose God’s mercy over the mercy of men and to remember that God’s mercy and goodness established him in the first place. David takes the cue - and does not place himself in the hands of men - who cannot save him and who have not the kindness and mercy of God.

Deuteronomy 20:1-4 -When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

One possible explanation from Exodus is that David forgot to take a tax, but as the commentary mentions this is unlikely given the context. The author makes no mention of this passage.

Exodus 30:12 - When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.

“At least two major factors complicate the reader’s understanding of this incident. The first is the lack of any explanation of the nature of David’s sin. Taking a census was not new and neither was it inherently wrong (cf. Num 1:2-3, 45-46; 26:2-4). However, these texts clearly indicate that David’s action was sinful. The following are possible reasons: (1) David failed to collect the monetary offering required of each person counted (Exod 30:11-16). To do so would seem to be direct disobedience. However, the writer in Numbers mentions no offering in connection with a census, and the implication is that none was taken. (2) David was acting in simple pride. He wanted to gloat about the great numbers he had at his disposal. However JOAB’s response seems to indicate a more serious problem. (3) David was depending more upon himself than upon the Lord for direction and protection. For example, the census could have been a first step in organizing a military draft. It certainly had a military flavor. Such an act would, in turn, imply that David had personal ambitions to expand his kingdom and a tendency to feel falsely secure because of his great numbers of potential soldiers. The punishment that followed seems to confirm the legitimacy of this last explanation. Since David was tempted to overstep his bounds because of a potential great army, its ranks were diminished significantly (cf. Gideon’s experience in Judg 7).” Watson E. Mills

Who incited David to take the census?

One passage says it was God and the other ‘the accuser’. There are two ways this apparent conflict has been reconciled:

1 - God allowed satan to tempt David. Just as we see in Job the evil one cannot act against God’s servants apart from God’s permission. Samuel and Chronicles are simply describing the same event - God allow satan to tempt David - from a different vantage point as regards agency.

2 - The word for ‘accuser’ or ‘satan’ does not have a definite article in front of it in Chronicles, whereas normally it does have the definite article. Another passage where this occurs is Number 22:22 where the Angel of the Lord stands before Balaam and his donkey as an ‘accuser’. So it could be that here we are seeing the Angel of the Lord inciting the census.

1 Chronicles 21:1 - Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel.

2 Samuel 24:1 - Once again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he caused David to harm them by taking a census. “Go and count the people of Israel and Judah,” the Lord told him.

(Candace foster) #3

I like both of the explanations given. There are several of those type passages in the OT that cause me to scratch my head in bewilderment. In Exodus, did God harden Pharoah’s heart? And another (can’t remember book) where God sends a confusing message through the prophets?

… with this passage-I think of how often God asked His people to do what was counterintuitive to their own thoughts…in order that they might learn to trust in God and not their own strength. David was obviously a military genius and it seems that Satan’s temptation would have targeted that area in his life. I guess I would go on the side that God allowed, removed His hand in some way from David and Satan seized the opportunity.

I liken it to my life…I don’t feel the testing or temptation to stray in areas of my life where I am secure and grounded but…in other areas, does God allow my wayward heart to stray or is Satan tempting me? I almost think they are simultaneous or indistinguishable.

Not sure if that makes much sense…it is still early morning here in Louisiana! Blessings on your studies!

(Jimmy Sellers) #4


This is our Sunday lesson this morning and I am sure this question will come up. As I understand the culture of the day not much thought was given to a secondary cause, why evil, but a lot of thought and attention was given to power, in this and in all cases this power was solely in the hands of Yahweh and his sovereignty. If something happen it was God’s will (a lot like Muslims think or folks who lean to predestination). To me this fits the scenario. David was feeling like a King again in this case a popular King not God’s appointee, but a King who gauged his power based on his mighty men and not on God’s mercy. Later, he will of his own volition repent and become the man God anointed. This is not the answer that a Southern Baptist Sunday school class will embrace so we will fast forward to 1 Chronicles 21:1 and blame it on the devil.:grinning:

(Jamie Hobbs) #5

I asked because I was teaching this topic in my own Sunday School class. Guess we’re using the same curriculum. :smiley:

(Jimmy Sellers) #6

Let me guess, Explore the Bible, LifeWay? There is another possibility, great minds think alike! :grinning:

(Jolene Laughlin) #7

I believe you are looking for Ezekiel 14 here. This is one of the hardest questions I was ever asked. I have searched and searched and studied and studied, and I have not found a good answer to the question: “The Bible says God cannot lie, right? But in Ezekiel 14, God specifically says that he has deceived the prophets. How is that not a lie?”

Here is an excerpt from the passage: 7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself:
8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;
11 That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord God.

The NKJ version says: 9 “And if the prophet is induced to speak anything, I the Lord have induced that prophet, and I will stretch out My hand against him and destroy him from among My people Israel. 10 And they shall bear their iniquity; the punishment of the prophet shall be the same as the punishment of the one who inquired

Does God admit to lying in Ezekiel 14:9?