2 Samuel 24.1 and 1 Chronicles 21.1: Contradiction?
· Three ways this has been handled:
o Harmonize the two accounts
o The two accounts are contradictory; the Chronicler is seeking to replace the idea in 2 Samuel 24.1 (more liberal view; not compatible with high view of Scripture)
o Chronicle account is an interpretation of the Samuel account
§ We will look at the first and third ways to handle the issue
· Harmonized Accounts
(1) “The most probable sequence in our passages runs like this:
-God is angry with Israel's sin (and David's handling of the royal family issues).
-Satan sees his opportunity, accuses them of wrongdoing, and wins approval to inflict David's and Israel's wrongdoing back on themselves.
-God, knowing that the punishment is well deserved, that the example of correction/contrition on David's part will be recorded in Scripture forever as an example, and that He will be gracious 'ahead of schedule' and reveal the site of his temple/crucifixion, agrees to turn David and Israel over to him, for this specific punishment (cf. I Cor 5.5).
-Satan, with this permission from God, moves David to begin the Census.” Glenn Miller http://christianthinktank.com/hcensus.html
(2) “[T]he Chronicles account and the Samuel account merely reflect two aspects of the same incident. Satan was the immediate cause of David’s action, but, theologically speaking, God was the ultimate cause in that He did not prevent the incident from occurring. In other words, it was actually Satan who instigated the pride and ambition that led David to increase the size of his army, perhaps unnecessarily.” John J. Davis and John C. Whitcomb Israel: A Commentary on Joshua-2 Kings p. 322
(3) “24:1 This verse indicates that God’s anger incited David to take a census which was not in the Lord’s will, yet 1 Ch 21:1 states that it was Satan who led David to take this wrongful action. The two statements would not be considered contradictory in the ancient Israelite way of thinking. The writer of 2 Sm affirms that God is the ultimate ruler of the universe; every event is subject to His authority. If even king David, despite his strength and intelligence, could be led into a foolish decision, the Lord’s hand is still involved (cp. Ps 76:10). Satan, too, is subject to God’s complete control (cp. Jb 1:6–12). In His position as Sovereign over all, God used one of His created beings—in this case Satan—to bring about judgment on another. People have the authority to resist Satan (Jms 4:7) but David declined to do so, and thus experienced the consequence in the effects of God’s wrath (cp. Rm 1:18).
· Interpretation: Chronicles interprets the Samuel account
o “The Chronicler’s version of 2 Sam 24:1 appears, then as an attempt to bring an interpretation to that passage that draws both on the terminology and themes of the biblical sources themselves. The sense, as the Chronicler saw it, was that David had sinned and, as in the days of old and Solomon’s kingdom after him, Israel was threatened by invasion from their enemies because of the disobedience of their leaders.” John H. Sailhamer “1 Chronicles 21:1—A Study in Inter-Biblical Interpretation” Trinity Journal 10:1 (Spring, 1989), p. 43
o Language issues:
§ “anger of the LORD burned against Israel”
· 2 Sam 24.1: Judges 2.14
· Similar expression: Judges 2.20; 3.8; 10.7; 2 Kings 13.3; 23.26
o “As these passages show, when the anger of Yahweh was kindled against Israel, it resulted in the Lord’s giving them over to their enemies.” (Ibid., pp. 41-42)
§ “satan”: “adversary”-- no definite article thus not the supernatural being known as Satan in the NT
· Note: “satan” in Job 1-2 and Zech 3.1-2 has definite article (“the satan”)
· 1 Kings 5.4; 1 Kings 11.9-14, 23, 25; 1 Sam 29.4; 2 Sam 19.23
· “It is more likely, however, that the lack of an article was intended to show that ‘adversary’ in 1 Chronicles 21 was to be distinguished from the being Satan (always written with an article) and associated with Israel’s historical enemies, who are always referred to without the article.” (Ibid., p. 42)
* (H) = harmonization; (I) = interpretation
Gleason Archer Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Zondervan, 1982), pp. 186-188. (H)
Greg Boyd God At War: The Bible and Spiritual Conflict (IVP, 1997), pp. 153-154. (H)
John J. Davis and John C. Whitcomb Israel: A Commentary on Joshua-2 Kings (Baker, 1989),
pp. 321-322. (H)
Walter Kaiser (and others) Hard Sayings of the Bible (IVP, 1996), pp. 240-241. (H)
John Sailhamer “1 Chronicles 21:1—A Study in Inter-Biblical Interpretation” Trinity Journal
10:1 (Spring, 1989), pp. 33-48. (I)
 Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (490). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.