How would you explain the difference between 2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chronicles 21:1? How does this question apply to the doctrine of scriptural infallibility?
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'”
1 Chronicles 21:1 “Now Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.”
Part of the difference has to do with the purpose and timing of Samuel and Chronicles, which is a study in itself. A more important part, which reveals how these two texts are complementary, has to do with the relationship between God and His creation, even that part of His creation that is in rebellion against Him.
Consider the insight this text provides:
Acts 4:27-28 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
All things in an almighty, all-knowing, all-loving God must serve His purposes, big and small, temporal and eternal. This is why Paul says there is no authority except from God (Romans 13:1). God used Satan who moved David to number Israel in order to bring both David and Israel to honesty about their rebellion and impenitence. Similarly, God used the crowd who cried for Jesus to be crucified, the religious leaders who provoked their cry, the Romans Soldiers, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, and the devil who was part of it all to crucify Jesus, but it was actually God, the Father Himself who condemned His own Son in order that He might redeem us from the curse of the law (Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
For more on God’s predetermined will, see my article on Election in Ephesians.
This question further reveals the truth of the Bible’s infallibility by testing the truth of the biblical texts and by highlighting the absolute reliability of the God who gave us the Bible as an enduring, powerful, clear witness to the truth.