The blood was on David’s Hands, not Jerusalem’s.
In 1 Chronicles 21:14-15, David observed what he considered to be a destroying angel of the Lord. This prompted him to intercede for the people of Israel in 1 Chronicles 21:17 saying, “Is it not I that commanded the people to be numbered? even I it is that have sinned and done evil indeed ...”
He asked God to visit the punishment upon him rather than all of Israel. The problem is that David had already accepted and declared the punishment upon all of Israel. He did not refuse the choices and personally accept the responsibility. He chose to have the pestilence come upon the land. However, after David pled for Israel before God, the angel then spoke to Gad and relayed instructions to David to make an altar and offer a sacrifice for his sin.
The angel that David saw was not a destroying angel, but a protecting one.
The angel was standing guard over Jerusalem, actually protecting Jerusalem from the destruction of the pestilence, accepted by David, and enacted by Satan. The angel would not allow the destruction to go beyond a certain point, in the same way that destruction was limited in Job’s situation in Job 1:12 (see p. 125 of Ideolatry). The angel also gave David instruction as to how to stop the destruction that David himself had begun. The angel put his sword of protection over Jerusalem away only after David repented and offered the sacrifice for the forgiveness and atonement of his sin. Once David atoned for the sin, he removed the permission that he had granted Satan to act against him and Israel.
David was possibly reeling from guilt over his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, his murder of her husband, Uriah and the death of his infant son because the events had taken place so recently. He may not have been thinking clearly during the entire census taking situation since he had turned his trust away from God. If David had immediately remedied the situation with an attitude of repentance and a sacrifice for atonement, the pestilence might not have come and killed 70,000 of his people.
God is neither the tempter nor the punisher.
The apparent conflict between the accounts of Samuel and Chronicles is easily resolved by understanding the perspective of the observers, or in this case, the writers. Satan both tempts and demands that man be punished when he falls into his temptations. Since Satan does not have the authority to act arbitrarily against man, he must coerce a man to speak against himself as Job had done or distrust God as David did. Satan overwhelms with temptation and then taunts with guilt. He leaves a man to self-judge, self-condemn, and proclaim punishment upon himself or other people. Man and mankind are the proclaimers of their own judgment and destruction, not God.
God is also consistent and unwavering in His dealing with man and the declarations of His Word. He does not change His mind, nor does He act in an arbitrary fashion. His Word is absolute in its Truth and Integrity.
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
Do you want to learn more about this subject?
Read Chapter 17, The Numbering of Israel – A Threat Assessment
in Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem
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