And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. – 2 Samuel 24:1 (KJV)
And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1 (KJV)
I recently had a chat with an atheist who calls “Satan, the God of Jesus”; so I asked him, how can Satan be the God of Jesus when He cast him (Satan) out of people?
His answer was based on logical fallacy from the two verses above (2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1). He said these two passages record the same event, therefore the LORD is Satan, as the evil being Satan.
This is a blatant misconception of the meaning of the word ‘Satan’ used in 1 Chronicles 21:1 because, in context, Satan here does not refer to the evil being called Satan or the Devil at all; but to the LORD Himself. (I hope he did a bit deeper research before making this ridiculous objection.)
[Even some Christians’ explanation suggests that it was the Devil used by God; which I strongly disagree. I will explain why later]
Before explaining the meaning of the word ‘Satan’ in 1 Chronicles, let’s see how other translations translate it:
An adversary opposed Israel, inciting David to count how many warriors Israel had.– 1 Chronicles 21:1, NET Bible
SATAN [an adversary] stood up against Israel and stirred up David to number Israel. – 1 Chronicles 21:1 (Amplified Bible).
The term ‘satan’ is used in the Bible to describe either the evil being we call Satan or any adversary (God or men). Satan actually is used as a verb in some passages and it means ‘to oppose’. In 1 Chronicles, satan means adversary (which was God to Israel) rather than Satan (the evil being) based on the context as 2 Samuel states it. God opposed (satan) Israel because of their disobedience.
It is important to note that in Hebrew, this word (satan) is not used as a name and does not refer to any specific being; it refers to any adversary. It is used throughout the Bible when describing ‘enemies or adversaries’:
And David said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye should this day be adversaries (Hebrew: שָׂטָ,ן “satan”) unto me? shall there any man be put to death this day in Israel? for do not I know that I am this day king over Israel? – 2Samuel 19:22
Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries (Hebrew: שָׂטָ,ן “satan”); thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice – Psalm 89:42
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries (Greek, ἀντίκειμαι ‘antikeimai’, akin to the Hebrew, שָׂטָ,ן ‘satan’) – 1Corinthians 16:9
Then God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose (Hebrew: שָׂטָ,ן “satan”) him. – Numbers 22:22
We see this in Matthew 16:23 when Jesus referred to Peter as ‘satan’. Did He mean that Peter was the evil being called Satan? Of course not! He simply called him Satan because he (Peter) opposed to the things He said that would happen to Him, namely His death:
16:21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
16:22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!”
16:23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s. – Matthew 16:21-23
As we all know, the Devil (Satan) wanted Jesus dead which is the opposite of what Peter said. In addition, as we see, Jesus Himself didn’t say, it’s Satan’s interest but man’s. So Jesus, here, didn’t refer to Peter as the Devil, nor was he possessed or used by Satan. He called him satan because he opposed His words.
There is no contradiction between 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles; it’s just that 2 Samuel points out who ‘satan’ (adversary) to Israel was (the LORD) and 1 Chronicles only refers to Him as Satan (adversary) and Atheists who have no clue about the meaning of ‘satan’ just assume that this is a mistake since one records the LORD and the other ‘satan’; without knowing that satan actually is an Hebrew word that can be used for everybody including God. Satan means ‘to oppose’, adversary (ies), enemy (ies).
—> God is the Devil’s satan (adversary). Yes, God is satan (adversary) of all evil, He was Satan (adversary) to Israel because they disobeyed His laws. I am a satan (adversary) to this Atheist because I oppose (satan) his objection; but that doesn’t mean God and I are the evil being we call Satan. Satan is not his name, Lucifer is. Satan is more like his title because he satan God’s words.
Here is another explanation given by some Christians, which I strongly disagree for the reason I am going to point out below (Though this is true in some passages – The story of Job just to mention one):
I quote: “The reason why this angered the Lord is that rather than trusting God, David was evidently placing his trust in the number of his people. Even David’s commander-in-chief, Joab, was not totally pleased with the king’s decision:
“But Joab said to the king, `May the LORD your God increase the number of the people a hundred fold, while the eyes of my lord king can still see it! But why does my lord the king want to do this? But the king’s word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army…” 2 Sam. 24:3-4a NRSV
Evidently, David had purposed within his heart to number Israel, something which the Lord was aware of. Realizing this, the Lord in his anger moved David through the agency of the Devil to act upon his heart’s desire.”
—> I disagree with this explanation because in context, it was the Angel of the LORD who slaughtered those people, not Satan (the Devil). Here is the context:
From 1 Chronicles:
21:15 And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
21:16 And David lifted up his eyes, and saw the angel of the LORD stand between the earth and the heaven, having a drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders of Israel, who were clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.
21:17 And David said unto God, Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? Even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed; but as for these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, O LORD my God, be on me, and on my father’s house; but not on thy people, that they should be plagued.
Verse 16 is clear; it was the Angel of the LORD with sword drawn in his hand stretched over Jerusalem. Not the Devil. The Angel of the LORD here refers to the Holy Spirit.
From 2 Samuel:
24:16 And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshing place of Araunah the Jebusite.
24:17 And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? Let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father’s house.
As we see, both 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles point out that it was the Angel of the Lord; that definitely is not the Devil (Satan).
Furthermore, counting the people was not the issue, though Joab said what he said. The issue is that David did not do as the law said he should after counting the people the way he did:
Here is the law of census:
30:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 30:12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall THEY GIVE EVERY MAN A RANSOM FOR HIS SOUL unto the LORD, WHEN THOU NUMBEREST THEM; THAT there be NO PLAGUE AMONG THEM, when thou numberest them. 30:13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. 30:14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. 30:15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
David did not follow this law, that’s why God told him to offer the sacrifice (burnt and peace offering). God didn’t kill David because he was not among those who were counted. This is why I do not agree with the other explanation. It was God’s judgment for not obeying the law. The law was something that God wanted them to obey 100%. Just look at 2Samuel 6:5-6 for example,
6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for HIS ERROR; and there he died by the ark of God.
Why did God kill Uzzah? We all can see that he actually did what is right. But what does the law says?
Numbers 1:51 – And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall BE PUT TO DEATH.
God killed him because he was not a Levite. That’s all! That’s what the law says.
Receive your salvation today if you haven’t done that yet and accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ over your life. As you see, God killed Uzzah for not obeying a single law but Jesus abolished those laws for us by His death on the Cross for our sins (Ephesians 2:15-16). Click here and be saved.