Two Chronicles of Kings

The Adult Bible Study Guide primarily draws on two stories by the biblical Chronicler. The main point of the lesson appears focused on reminding readers to give their resources to the church. The two royal anecdotes from the reign of David (1 Chronicles 21:1–14) and Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1–22) show what happens when one does right or wrong by the Lord. Led astray by an adversary, elderly David makes the mistake of conducting a census, and this causes God to kill 70,000 Israelites as punishment. For the good example of trusting in the Lord, under imminent attack, Jehoshaphat leads his people in preparatory fasting and prayer. On the day of the military attack, Jehoshaphat puts a priestly choir on the frontline. This causes the Edomite confederacy to fight among themselves and give Israel an easy, total victory.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I have been struggling to understand 2. Samuel 24 / 1. Chronicles 21 for a long time. Why did David’s sin cause God to kill 70000 uninvolved Israelites?
I mean, God Himself says in Ezekiel 18:20: The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
So how can it be that God kills 70000 people who had no share in David’s sin? Is that just? Is that merciful (it sure is merciful towards David, but what about 70000 families grieving their lost ones?)
I’d be happy if someone had an answer to this.
The answer I found, the reason I still believe in a loving God, is that when I find different, competitive pictures of God portrayed in the Bible, I accept the one Jesus showed us. That leaves some Old Testament Stories like the one above out.


Lots of times it is like God is taking responsibility for causing things because he lets us go and do what we want. Since Isreal was rebelling as well. God let David do what he wanted and then let them feel what it is like to not be under his protection. That is how i see it

Or maybe, as I believe many of the accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures are, this is not a literal, factual account. It could be a cautionary tale, when one views the anthology we call ‘The Bible’ as a book of Wisdom scenarios instead of a Boy Scout Manual to be read literally, learning the correct and only way to tie a square knot. These are interesting, ancient writings, perhaps historical, perhaps not, so we glean what we can. For me, the moral of this story is: Wrongdoing Can Hurt Many People.


As has been typical the entire quarter, the lesson author chooses poor illustrations to attempt to make his point. As a co-teacher of an adult class, I chose different examples each week. For this lesson, a good example of ‘managing hard times’ is the period of David’s life from when he was anointed at age 15 until he was crowned king at about age 30. That was a really tough period in his life with erratic ups and downs, ultimately resulting in David becoming a fugitive, with no safe place to live. It’s an interesting story, beginning in I Samuel 16 and continuing through II Samuel 2. Read it in a new version and you’ll be surprised how much you didn’t remember from hearing the story as a kid.

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This comes up several times in the OT - Job’s entire family died just to test Job?? Deut. 28:15 sounds like God blesses obedience and brings curses for disobedience. This was a different culture that created these stories. They believed God blessed and punished as well. I think your focus on Jesus and his picture of God is the way to understand. Jesus changed everything - as he said, “You can’t put new wine in old wine skins”



Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

John and James (Luke 9: 54)

Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of for the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.

Jesus (Luke 9: 55-56)

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time (…) Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies.

Jesus (Matthew 5: 21-44)

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus (Luke 24: 27)

And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.

II Samuel 24: 1

And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

1 Chronicles 21: 1

I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me (…) I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

Isaiah 45: 6-7

When will we let go of these archaic Old Testament attributions of everything, good or bad, to a unique and therefore, taking monotheism to its logical extremes, all-powerful divinity ? And as the disciples on the way to Emmaus finally let Jesus explain the Scriptures to us from His point of view ? The same Jesus who, for instance, rebuked his disciples for asking for the incineration, Elijah-style, of a Samaritan town that rejected them ? And therefore when will we stop taking as historical facts these constant rewritings of history, so obvious in David’s case with the substitution of a demonic adversary to God’s supposed evil census suggestion, or in Jehoshaphat’s case, the attribution to God of the internal dissension of the enemies which led Judean king Jehoshaphat and Israel’s king Jehoram to victory, or in king Hezekiah’s case, Isaiah’s attribution to the Angel of the Lord of the probable cholera outbreak that forced Sennecharib to drop his siege of Jerusalem ?


Hello, whenever there are stories like this told separately it’s to show the issue from different sides. To emphasize different aspects of God’s character and dealings with us. The question you ask is a good one, but the people that died were suffering the consequences of David’s disobedience, they were not paying for his sin in terms of the final judgment. The verses you use are describing the ultimate consequence of sinning, which is the judgment, and there we will all stand before God for ourselves.

We see this all the time today, a truck, driver gets in his car and kills a family with innocent children in the other car. God could have turned that I’ll come around and had the drunk driver die, but he didn’t. So they suffered for his sin. I really believe this is to show the destructive nature of sin, because in this life, the verses you use are not always applied immediately.

But one thing I think is dangerous to do is to just set aside stories because we don’t see how they fit with God. Because then the logical question would be how do you know that the life of Jesus is accurate and the story of David And the 70,000 is not? What happens is we will end up picking and choosing the stories that present God as we want him to be and not as he truly is and that is dangerous because as flawed fhuman beings. We will emphasize some stories and ignore others that do present aspects of who God is. so yes, God did remove his protection from the entire nation because of the sin of David and that might seem cruel, but on a smaller scale…If I cheat on my wife or leave her, my kids will grow up suffering the consequences of my actions, and that isn’t fair either. God is trying to get us to see the unbelievably destructive nature of our actions , ultimately David was responsible and not God for what happened. He caused God to remove His protection by blatantly disobeying.

Thank you for your input, and thanks to all others answering.
The reason why I believe Jesus’ characterization of God more than any Old Testament account is because I believe He is God’s son, part of the deity. In consequence, he must know God better than any man. If the picture of God He presents clashes with other people’s accounts, I take Jesus’ word for it.
And no, the story in 2. Samuel 24 is not just about consequences. David literally saw the angel of God with a sword in his hands, after killing 70000 persons. So it is insinuated that God actively killed people, he did not just take away his protection.
How would you feel about God if He actively killed your wife and children because, let’s say, Ted Wilson made a wrong decision?
For me, the answer to this and several other Old Testament accounts portraying God as cruel and unfair is essential, because I need to know Who I want to spend eternity with. I do not care about streets of gold, I just want to be with the Being who is love. Sometimes I think Jesus did not only come into this world to die for us, but to show us how God really is - apart from all the stories people in all honesty had made up about Him.


One of the reasons that I have rejected the literal historic accuracy of the ancient Hebrew Scriptures is because of the numbers. The Samuel 24 story mentions 70,000 deaths by a sword. Not 69,872 deaths? Nor 71,083 deaths? Who counted them all? These huge rounded numbers lead me to believe that these are stories which lead us to greater wisdom about ancient Palestinian beliefs, which are in the back story of Jesus. To me, the scriptural anthology called The Bible is more about wisdom and understanding, not historical accuracy to be wrestled with thousands of years later. Just ask a rabbi.


I think the jesus we see dying on the cross answers all the questions we can’t answer by simply reading the stories of the Old Testament. I mean, do we believe the flood story? That children and elderly etc were all killed by God’s directly ordered catastrophe.

Whenever we come across stories like that I don’t think the best thing to do is leave them out, but understand them in light of the cross. Any God who would be willing to die for all sinners would never do anything unjust. So the OT stories shouldn’t be dismissed, but even if they “appear” unjust the same God who hung on a cross would never act in an unjust or unmerciful way. So even stories like the one this week has to contain the same attributes as the God who died in the cross.

And the last thing I would say, is, Jesus didn’t write any of the stories in the Gospel. So I know you’re saying that you choose to see that God, but even that Jesus is written down by human beings. And if those human beings are just as far as the ones who wrote the old testament, how do we know there depiction of Jesus is accurate? Once we start eliminating stories Because we can’t understand or make sense of them, I think we’ve destroyed the entire Bible because ultimately, it’s all written by human beings. I believe the spirit inspired all the scripture and if we don’t believe that, we’re basically undoing all the Bible.

Many modern scholars have uncovered the correlations and similarities between the OT and its contemporary ANE literature. It’s uncanny how YHWH, while doing things on a different moral basis than the gods of Israel’s neighbors, is depicted in similar ways…as a tribal warrior god. If Israel was right with YHWH they won their battles and were successful even to the point of genocide. If they were on the outs, disaster beset them militarily and in other ways. And God was portrayed as bringing it all upon them. This is very similar to the narratives of their neighbors and their tribal gods.

It is why the story of Jesus is decisive. Even though the gospels were not written by eyewitnesses, they were written within a generation from their received testimony. And that testimony shows Jesus often overturning such a conception of God. See his response to his disciples wanting to call down fire on Samaritans, or healing the ear of a Roman assailant while telling his disciple to put away his sword.

This doesn’t overturn the idea of the Bible as being inspired. It challenges our ideas of what that means. It doesn’t mean that the Bible was dictated from heaven by God. It means that God met very limited human beings, even inspired ones, where they were in their conceptions of relating to deity, and kept revealing himself over time. Finally Jesus hits the scene.

But, it tells me that God meets us, limited creatures, in the same way today. The messiness of the Bible and God’s interaction with people in it validates this, I think.



Thank you, I never thought about this aspect.

[quote=“Yoyito, post:11, topic:23680”
I believe the spirit inspired all the scripture and if we don’t believe that, we’re basically undoing all the Bible.

I cannot prove this but if one believes, as I do, that our creator remains present in all of his creatures, then his inspiration is ubiquitous.

But like all of our senses, all human inspiration is limited and incomplete.

This is also the case with the Bible. It isn’t a finished product and isn’t god’s last word to humans. Instead, it is a primer, of sorts, and requires ongoing enlightenment.

Further, and like every other book, the Bible is holy and correct in parts but profane and absolutely wrong in others, so no matter what else one can say about it, each individual must chose for himself which parts are which.

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We disagree on the Bible being wholly inspired but I think your opinion does prove my point. If we see parts of the Bible as holy and parts as profane then there is no real point to it. Because it’s no longer there to teach us right from wrong it’s there for us to sit and determine what is right and wrong with it. We are then applying our standard of right, and wrong to judge the Scriptures. Which is obviously your choice to make but then there’s really no point to the Bible.

Because what is actually happening is we are using our standard of right and wrong to judge the Bible, and so our standard of right and wrong is coming from outside the Bible. and that being the case the Bible is then useless because even the parts we agree with are just fitting into what we already believe right and wrong are.

Another words we no longer need the Bible to show us right and wrong because we’ve determined that on our own and are then telling the Bible what is right and wrong. So we might as well just stick to our internal sense of right and wrong.

And I would then ask, what is the standard for right and wrong? Each persons criteria? That’s not an effective or reliable source of truth

So you use someone else’s source of truth?

But how do you evaluate that truth except by using your own standards?

Doesn’t the Bible say that there is a way that seems right to a person but that way is the leads to death?

I find that reasoning nihilistic and profane in the extreme as there is no point in any human attempt at anything.

In the end, the question of inspiration always comes down to an individual decision and since we know there is no safety in numbers, one must rely on himself and make his own determination of what is, and what is not, the voice of our creator.

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You raise an interesting proposition. We use our judgement (mostly influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas) to judge whether the Bible (the Judeo-Christian holy book) is truth…:thinking:

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Your logic makes sense to me…if the Bible is only true to the extent we analyze and determine what parts of the Bible are true and what parts are not, then yeah, it’s ultimately our judgment.

But then my point is true too, why then do we need the Bible? If it’s there only for us to use our judgment to decide what portions to keep and which to discard, then we really don’t need it at all. We can just use our judgment separate and apart from the Bible to decide right from wrong. The moment we start leaving out portions of scripture we might as well throw it all away since we’re just using it to confirm our own ideas of right and wrong anyway. It becomes unnecessary, secondary to our internal opinion and therefore, irrelevant.

Many feel that and that’s their right as thinking human beings. But where I don’t get it is when people swear there is absolute truth in the Bible but only the portions they agree with. That logic makes no sense to me.

You say truth cant really be know and I respect that, I disagree but at least I know what you’re saying. Someone that says the “Jesus” portion is true but the rest is not, based on what??? It’s illogical and I don’t get Christian’s that view the Bible this way, just discard it all and make up your own morality, which is what they’re doing anyway.

Have a good evening.

I don’t need the Bible, the Koran, the I Ching or any other so-called holy book, not only because they’re too complicated, confusing and contradictory, but because I have god’s word hid in my heart.

If you’re convinced this means I’m on the path to hell because what I know must be wrong according to the Bible, or that you do need any part of any of these supposedly holy scriptures, all I can say is good luck with that.

I don’t recall saying that but if I did, I was mistaken.

I know that we can know truth because, again, we have god’s word hid in our hearts-a “still, small voice”, as some call it-which helps us determine which parts of any purportedly inspired work to accept and which to reject.

I don’t think I know what is true for anyone else, though, nor that my truth will suffice for anyone but me.

It sounds like you read the scriptures and operate by divine command theory, if the Bible/God says it it’s right, no matter the content. Then we come to the portions where YHWH ordered genocide. Or where slavery is supported and regulated in the OT and not repudiated in the NT. Or where women are treated as property even in the ten commandments. Or where Proverbs says that obeying God guarantees prosperity, blessing, and a well ordered life…then along comes Job and Ecclesiastes rebutting that big time, saying that’s not how God and real life necessarily work.

The Bible is a much more messy book and reveals a much more messy interaction between God and its authors and their audiences than for what you seem inspiration to allow. It is filled with puzzles and arguments and even inconsistencies that many who call it the word of God seem afraid of…as if to recognize them is to throw the baby out with the bath water. I don’t believe so. I think it’s being honest with the scriptures and what they actually are.

Secondly, it’s the NT that actually prioritizes Jesus and the revelation of God through him over the OT. This is what the prologue to John’s gospel, the opening of Hebrews, Paul’s letters such as Romans and Galatians, and the transfiguration stories in the gospels are all saying. The word of God in the NT is not usually considered the entire scriptures. It is the preached message of the gospel and even Jesus himself and how he revealed God that are referred to in this way…overwhelmingly.

We do well to pay attention to this.