Bible Studies/2nd Samuel


QUESTION: Hello Teacher Scott! Its Joyce again.

My problem is in 2nd Samuel. The last chapter.No 24. In vs 1 the Lord TOLD David to number the people of Israel. So why then does David repent later on in the chapter?
And why did God punish him for doing what he was told?


ANSWER: Hi Joyce!

II Samuel 24:1 (KJV) says, "And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah.'"

God did not tell David to number the Israelites. It was David who said, "Go, number Israel and Judah."

Because of God's anger against Israel, He created a situation that He used to teach them something. David still exercised free will when making the decision to number the people. That is why he repented of his actions.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I still don't understand this..
Ok. "The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel. Ok God was mad at them, I get that part.

And He MOVED David against them to say Go and number Israel.  I don't understand.. First what does "MOVED" mean? I thought it meant "to influence"

So if God influenced David to number them... I just don't understand that part. Sorry.


Hi Joyce,

I understand your confusion. At first glance, it seems that God expressed His anger towards David for doing something that He "moved" David to do.

I did some research to find some answers. Following is an excerpt from the EasyEnglish Bible Commentary (

Verse 1 does not say why the *Lord was angry with *Israel. Usually he was angry when the people did not obey him. The *Lord wanted to punish them. In Chronicles, it says that Satan (Godís chief enemy) made David count the people. James 1:13 says that God does not tempt people to do something wrong. But Job chapter 1 shows that God sometimes lets Satan tempt (test) people. So, God may allow something but Satan actually does it. This could explain the two different accounts of this story.

This explanation makes sense to me. God does not cause others to do wrong, but He sometimes allows it for various reasons. Man's free will is always intact, and we are always fully accountable for our actions.

A number of scholars reference the parallel account in I Chronicles 21 and make a case for the idea that the "he" of II Samuel 24:1 may actually be Satan. Here is a quote from the Guzik Bible Commentary (

The anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David: The translators of the New King James Version believe that "He" in this sentence applies to God, because they capitalize it. Yet 1 Chronicles 21:1 tells us, Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel. The best explanation is that Satan moved David and is the "he" of 2 Samuel 24:1. Yet the LORD expressly allowed it as a chastisement against David.

i. "Now the 'he' there, we assume would be the Lord. But as we find out in 1 Chronicles, chapter [twenty-] one, it was Satan that moved Davidís heart, to the numbering of the people. So God opened the door, and allowed Satan to move in and tempt David." (Smith)


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Scott Talbot


I have studied the Bible and Bible-related topics since the time I was very young. My education includes a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Bible, and a Master of Divinity degree. I enjoy delving into deep theological issues and always enjoy a healthy debate. But more importantly, I like working with people and helping them to find the answers that they are looking for. And I am convinced that these answers are available in the Bible.


By the grace and mercy of God, I have been saved, born again, adopted into the family of God. God has given me a love for the Bible, and for Bible-related subjects. In addition, He has blessed me with ongoing training in the Scriptures, from my youth on up. The more I learn about God through His Word, the more I want to share!

Campus Crusade for Christ, Grace Church at Willow Valley

Pillsbury Baptist Bible College - B.S. Bible & Pastorology; Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary - M.Div.

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