Have you ever puzzled over statements in the Bible that seem to contradict each other? For example, 1 Chronicles 21:1 states that the one who “moved David to number Israel” was Satan, but 2 Samuel 24:1 says it was the Lord. How do we explain this? We know that God never tempts anyone to sin (James 1:13).
The answer lies in the way the Old Testament writers expressed the ways of God. They sometimes ascribed to God what He merely allowed, knowing that He permits us to make wrong choices and then uses the tragic results to accomplish His good purposes.
In 2 Samuel 24:1, we read that God “moved David” to take a census of Israel. This is clearly a case when God allowed Satan to influence David, for it was an attempt to assess Israel’s military strength. This reflected the same sin of pride and self-reliance that was prevalent in the nation. As a result, God judged the people and their king.
So what was the good purpose God accomplished by allowing Satan to influence David? Although many Israelites died, the nation itself was spared and purified. The Lord punished the guilty but also showed His mercy.
God’s ways may be beyond our understanding, but we can always trust Him to do what is right.
FOR FURTHER STUDY
Are the Scriptures reliable? For answers, readStudies In Contrast.
God may conceal the purpose of His ways, but His ways are not without purpose.