First let me set the stage. Look at 2 Samuel 24:1, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” It’s very clear that the Lord moved David to number the people AND then David confesses his sin of numbering the people a few verses later in 2 Sam. 24:10, “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done.” How can this be a sin, if the text says that the Lord moved David? ……
Now look at 1 Chronicles 21:1. The Chronicler writes, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” This passage says that Satan moved David. How can one passage say that God moved David and another passage says that Satan moved David?
That’s relatively easy to understand. God is sovereign over all things and in His Permissive Will, God allows sinful things to happen, but God can never be accused of tempting someone, nor can He sin (James 1:13). Satan must gain permission from God to tempt and do harm as when God allowed Satan to tempt Job (Job 1:12). So, God may even allow the enemy to move persons to sin (in David’s case, not in Job’s case), yet because it is within God’s sovereign control it is recorded as God doing the action. In reality, it is really God Who allowed Satan to move David to number the people.
But also notice, David was a believer. Satan moved a believer to sin and do foolishness. Can Satan cause that kind of problem today? Luke records in Acts 5:3 that Satan filled Ananias’ heart to lie. The same can happen today. God can allow good people to be moved by Satan to do sinful things, even toward other people in God’s family. Why? Ultimately for God’s glory. It reveals God’s sovereignty. It reveals those who are approved by God in a faction of people. It reveals those who do not react, but respond with grace. It reveals that the creature who acts independent of God, even believers, can be moved by Satan to do sinful things.
May our hearts be broken, purified and never used by the enemy, especially to bring harm to God’s people.