8 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

2 Samuel 24
Galatians 4
Ezekiel 31
Psalms 79

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

2 Samuel 24:1 (CSB): “The LORD’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say, ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

When you and I sin, who is responsible?

Some like to blame Satan. Some blame God since they rightfully believe that He is in control of all things. Many of them humbly place the blame upon themselves.

When read the story found in 2 Samuel 24, where David sought to discover the power of his military might, we are surprised by the answer. Let’s begin with how this story is told in 1 Chronicles and end with the verse I have chosen for today.

1 Chronicles 21:1 (CSB): “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel.”

This verse simply states that the sin that David committed of numbering his army and thus depending upon his military might (that resulted in the death of many Israelites) was caused by Satan. I suppose he could have literally said, “The devil made me do it.”

Or could he?

Later in this same chapter, David doesn’t blame Satan. He takes full responsibility for his sin.

1 Chronicles 21:17 (CSB): “David said to God, ‘Wasn’t I the one who gave the order to count the people? I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly.’…”

So, was it Satan or was it David that caused this sin? Well, before we answer that question, let’s look at one more verse, the one I chose for today. This same story is retold in 2 Samuel 24. Listen to what the Bible tells us.

2 Samuel 24:1 (CSB): “The LORD’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say, ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’”

So, we previously read that David claimed responsibility for the sin of numbering the people. We also read that Satan moved David to sin. Further, we read that God’s anger was directed at David and thus He moved David to number the people and receive the consequences.

Honestly, when I try to figure out who was to ‘blame’ for David’s sin, I’m left dumbfounded. I feel like a kindergarten student looking at a college level calculus equation. I can’t understand it … but that doesn’t mean that the equation is not true.

It is in this same way that we are to understand how God works in our world and our lives. Some affirm mankind’s freedom to make his own choices (which I do) while others hang out on the other side and affirm God’s freedom to make His choices (which I also do). These truths do not cancel each other out. Simply because we do not understand the equation doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

So, what are we to make of James 1:13-15 where we are told that God doesn’t tempt us?

If we look carefully at James 1:13-15, we may read between the lines and understand what issues James may have been addressing. Apparently, there were folks who were excusing their sin by saying, “I was tempted by God!” James quickly tosses that argument out by saying that God isn’t tempted nor does He tempt anyone.

Yet, James is not saying that God doesn’t send difficulties into our lives (see James 1:2-4). God even sends things into our lives that will lead to sin (e.g. Jesus sent the Apostles into the Garden of Gethsemane where they slept instead of prayed and then ran like cowards when Jesus was forcibly taken). God sends good things and bad things our way. His desire is that we always take the escape hatch referenced in 1 Corinthians 10:13 but some folks will not take the escape hatch and will sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (CSB): “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.”

One essential ingredient of temptation is a sinful heart (James 1:14-15). Without it, nothing at all would be tempting. (Imagine someone who has just stuffed themselves with a Thanksgiving dinner. Further, imagine that someone puts a sinfully delicious pie in front of them. It’s NOT going to be a temptation because that person has no desire whatsoever for the pie. Something is a temptation ONLY when it is met with sinful desires.)

It is in that way that we are to understand that God does not tempt us. Does He allow difficulties to come our way? Of course. Otherwise, how could He make the promise of Romans 8:28? Does He allow sinful opportunities to come our way? Of course. He could keep them from us but sometimes, He doesn’t. Yet, His desire in those times of trial is that we grow from the experience (James 1:2-4 again) and take the 1 Corinthians 10:13 escape hatch. Yet, sending things our way does not constitute temptation. Temptation only occurs when we meet the things God sends our way with a sinful heart.

But there is another principle that is activated in the stories of Pharaoh and David (and many more in Scripture) that I referenced above. It’s the principle that is illustrated in Romans 1:18-32. When God’s patience has been exhausted and His wrath becomes evident, it is sometimes manifested in the removal of His protective hand to allow a person or a nation to continue down a sinful path that they are intent on traversing. Pharaoh was insistent that he would reject any notion of an Israelite exodus so God gave him over to that option. David was insistent on numbering the people so God’s wrath gave him the ability to exercise that option and experience the negative consequences.

Well, we dug a little deep in this blog post but I felt the need to quickly investigate how God can be said to have brought something into David’s life that was certainly a temptation to David while not ascribing sin in any way to God. Why? Because our ability to think biblically through this issue allows us to ascribe full power and authority (sovereignty) to our God while not blaming Him for sin that happens in our life.

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Lord Jesus, help me to have an insatiable hunger to read and understanding Your Word. I want to work toward mastery of my Bible so that I can think much more biblically and defend the truth of Your Word in a culture that is increasingly rejecting its teachings. I pray this in Your Name. Amen.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash