2 Sam 24:1-10; 1 Chron. 21:1-2
We looked at this story last month, but now I want to examine it for a different focus. We’re going to spend a week examining our Enemy, and this is a good springboard for it.
Reading these two accounts side-by-side, it looks like a contradiction, doesn’t it? So who was responsible for setting in motion the census which led to disaster? Well, as we mentioned when talking about Joseph’s brothers, there is no indication that David was “possessed” by Satan or anything else which made him do something he didn’t want to do. He was influenced, or you could say he was manipulated, but he wasn’t controlled or forced.
But what about the other actors in this drama? Who influenced David, Satan or God? If God and Satan are enemies, then how can you reconcile the two accounts? The answer is both simple and complex, and can be summarized in one word: sovereignty. This means that the Lord Almighty is ultimately in charge of everything, including Satan. He uses Satan to accomplish his (God’s) purposes. Satan has schemes and plans, all of which are destructive and intended to wreck what the Lord's done. Satan seems to be victorious, and then finds out that he just did what God was intending to do in the first place. Kinda stinks to be fighting against an all-knowing, all-powerful opponent, huh?
Of course, the best example of this was the Passion of Christ. Satan manipulated and influenced people to bring about the betrayal, arrest, trial, torture, and crucifixion of our Lord. Everything seemed to be going his way, and he got pretty much everything he wanted out of the situation. Finally, the bane of his existence lay dead on a cross.
At what point did he realize that his greatest victory had just turned into his greatest defeat? At the empty tomb? Was it earlier than that? We don’t know for sure. But we do know that Jesus by his death “disarmed the powers and authorities, [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” What looked like Satan’s greatest victory turned out to be the death knell of his kingdom.
How does this all work out today? How does God work everything out for his own purposes? We don’t know, and we don’t need to know. All we need to focus on is the fact that our Father has placed everything under the feet of his Son, and everything is under his control. If Satan is allowed to attack us, there’s a good reason why. Our part is to trust and obey. Like I said before, it’s both impossibly complex and extremely simple. We stay focused on what we need to be concerned about, and let our Father handle the rest.
Father God, I praise you, because you don’t accomplish your plans just despite the Enemy’s best efforts, but because of them. Help me to do what I need to do: trust and obey.
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