Understanding Healing, Sickness & Disease? Understanding Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh! Part 4

(Ver 1.1)  This is now Part 4 in a series of advanced Bible lessons about where Sickness and Disease Came From.   If you have not read this series of lessons from the beginning, then I would suggest that you go back to Part 1 and start there.  In today’s lesson I want to directly focus in on a false teaching that is found in many churches that causes many people to remain in sickness.  Many confused and ignorant ministers want to claim that Paul had a physical sickness, disease or disability from God and since he endured this with such great patience and humility we should also submit to the will of God and endure it the same way.  I have actually heard people teach this as if it was a message from God or a Bible verse.  They have theorized that since the Bible says that Paul was struck down blind on the road to Damascus by the brign light coming from Jesus that he had continuing and ongoing eyesight problems that followed him into his maturing years caused by God.   They even use a verse found in Galatians 6:1 where Paul makes a statement “You see what a large letter that I have written unto you”, to say Paul was using Greek letters that were written extra-large to allow him to see them.   Wow, you can really make the Bible say whatever you want it to say, can’t you?   I personally believe that in Galatians 6:1 Paul was referring that the amount of information covered in his letter to the Galatians was what was a great size and I believe that he was not talking about the size of his handwriting.  But, you can believe whatever you like and be wrong.   So let’s look at the controversial verse written in 2 Corinthians and see exactly what it says about Paul’s thorn in the flesh:

2Co 12:7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

I want to start this lesson with the emphasized point given to us of why Paul had this thorn.   Rather than determining what the thorn is or who gave it to him, let us focus only on the why it was there factor.  I actually believe that this reason of why it was present is more important than Paul having a thorn.  You can clearly read in 2 Corinthians 12:7 the fact that Paul said this thorn was present because of the abundance of the revelations that were given to him.  Uh oh?   You can begin today by asking yourself this question, are you a Paul?  How many revelations have you been given in the past 10 to 20 years?  Could you write 2/3 of the New Testament?  If you have not been given the same number of revelations as Paul, then you are not a Paul and you do not qualify to have a thorn.  I really do not care what the thorn is right now, if it is a sickness or a disease, you must ask yourself why you are sick and if you can say it is because of the abundant revelations that you have been given by Jesus then you are potentially the same as Paul.  Otherwise if you have not been given abundant revelations from God then you do not qualify for a thorn.  This is very simple logic based upon the words in the scripture.  This further makes it just so simple to determine now if you even qualify to have a thorn.  God was intelligent enough to write you and tell you why there was a thorn and then you must be intelligent enough to figure out if you are eligible for the thorn.  Based upon this information the vast majority of people teaching, preaching and hearing this verse do not qualify for it.    Later we will examine what a thorn is using the Bible, but for now I want you to judge yourself and make a count of how many revelations you have been given.  If there are so many that you can’t count them all, then you are qualified.  Maybe I should stop and define what a revelation is so that you can understand that concept first.

A revelation is a New Testament concept.  The word “revelation” only occurs 10 times in the New Testament.  Of course there is a book of the Bible called “Revelation” and this is the final book of the Bible that describes the time of the end.  There are no direct revelations given in the Old Testament that I know of.  But, do not misunderstand what I am saying.  God did have prophets in the Old Testament that were given words to speak from God, but if the prophets understood the Words it would shock me tremendously.  Let me give you the definition of the Greek word from the Strong’s that is translated as “revelation” so that you see what it means:

From G601; disclosure: – appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.

The Greek word translated as “revelation” is from another Greek word that means “to take off the cover”.  There is a clear implication given to us that the Word of God had a cover on it.  So a revelation is a revealing of the Word of God.  This of course further implies that the Word of God was a vastly hidden complex spiritual set of information that needs to be uncovered for us to understand it.  It would be like when a waiter in a restaurant brings out a covered dish to your table and you do not know what it is until they take off the lid and reveal it.  This was how the Old Testament was written.  It had a covering over it that did not permit any man to understand the true meanings that it contained.   This is a concept that I call “Hiding the Truth in Plain Sight and I write about this a lot.  These are techniques that God implemented in His Word using His extreme intelligence that allowed Him to use words that we can clearly read, but yet the way they were presented to us, it is almost impossible to understand them correctly until the Spirit of God reveals them to us.  Let me give you some more scriptures from Galatians about this subject to teach you more about the concepts of revelations.  Let me show you where Paul said he got what he taught from the Bible:

Gal 1:11  But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.

Paul is talking about the Gospel that he was preaching to the people on the earth and he tells you that these words did not come from a man.  This is just another way of telling you he didn’t learn it from a church denomination, a Sunday school, a seminary or even a preacher.  These are usually the institutions which teach the doctrines of men.  You see many churches in the world today only know how to teach lessons that they learned from other men and they have no spiritual substance or value to them.  These types of men are not led by the Spirit of God, they are usually led by books, calendars, denomination plans and lessons and other doctrines of men.  Paul tells you exactly where he got his message and it is not from any of these usual places:

Gal 1:12  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

If Jesus Christ came to you one day and taught you something awesome in the Bible, what would have been Jesus’ purpose for doing this?  Is it just for you alone?  Why do you think that Jesus gave Paul such great revelations of the Word of God, was it for Paul personally to grow up spiritually and no one else?  Of course it was not, Paul was called by God to be a teacher of the Word of God, and so Jesus came and taught him what to teach.  Can Jesus still do this today?  I know for a fact that He can and has.  Did you know it makes all the difference in the world where your preacher got his message that he teaches you on Sunday morning?  If it comes from a book other than the Bible, it is worthless no matter how entertaining it might be.  We can clearly see that Paul claims to have been taught by Jesus Christ and the message that he taught was the words of Jesus and not the words of Paul or any other man.  We are definitely starting to understand why Paul had a thorn in his flesh, even though we still do not yet have a clue what this was.  Before I move on in this subject let me teach more about what a revelation is:

Eph 3:3  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,

As you can read a revelation is the implied understanding of a hidden mystery.  A mystery is always something that is not clearly made known until the ending.  If you have ever read a mystery novel then that is what I am talking about.  The ending of the book almost always reveals the surprise.  You can try to read it and you can think on it and you can attempt to figure it out, but until it is revealed it rarely is the right conclusion in your mind to what really happens in any really good mystery story.  If you can read a book and figure out the ending before it happens then it is not a good mystery story.  God’s Old Testament was the greatest mystery story of all time.  It had complex twists and turns and unexpected things happened like God comes to the earth in the flesh when no expected Him to show up this way.  Jesus instead of fighting with a sword and conquering the world’s kingdoms has come to the earth to die and no one expected that.  Jesus at his trial does not even defend himself in court and He is convicted of no crimes and yet sentenced to die on a cross like a criminal.  These are some of the greatest mysteries of God and why Satan did not know what to do with Him.   While Jesus walked the earth in the flesh He starts speaking to the people in parables that told of hidden spiritual things that had been kept secret since the foundation of the world and this was clearly the start of the unveiling of the mystery of God.  Jesus started revealing these mysteries to His disciples when He walked among us and then Jesus later appeared to Paul and taught him some more of the mysteries of the Old Testament.

Eph 3:4  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

This book about Christ is the greatest Mystery book that you will ever attempt to understand.  The complex hidden spiritual things in this book will cause you to scratch your head and wonder how did I not see that or say what did that say?  Saul, who became Paul was a serious Bible student before he ever understood what he was reading.  Saul was a devoted religious man of the order of the Pharisees (Php 3:5).   It was only after Saul was struck down blind on the road to Damascus and the man of God came to him and restored his eyesight and filled him with the Spirit of God (Acts 9:17) that Paul ever began to understand the mysteries of the Bible to teach them.  This could be my story also but, that is not my subject today so I will not go there.

Eph 3:5  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

As you can see the mystery was not made known to men before in the Old Testament.  But, God has revealed them to us through His apostles and prophets by His Spirit.  This is a foundational key to understanding if you qualify to have a thorn like Paul.  I gave you a lot of the background information that is very relevant to making this determination.  If you determine you are a Paul and can have a thorn like him, then let’s stop and figure out what this thorn was next.  Let us reread a our foundational verse for today’s lesson:

2Co 12:7  And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

I only underlined the part that I wanted you to focus in on.  Paul describes this “thorn” as a messenger of Satan that was sent to “buffet” him.  It is first important to note that whatever this thorn was, it came from Satan and not from God.  The term “messenger” in the Greek can mean an angel or a preacher.   It is someone who carries a message.  The Fedex Company is a messenger business that delivers messages.  Angels or messengers can be sent by God, or in this case they can also be sent by Satan.  An angel is of course a spiritual being.  You must realize that Satan has angels under his control in order to understand the spiritual kingdoms that exist.  God has a spiritual kingdom and Satan has a spiritual kingdom and both of these kingdoms have angels.   You can read about these angels in a spiritual war with each other in Revelation 12 and Daniel 10.  However, I am not convinced that Paul’s thorn was an angel of Satan.   I am more inclined to believe that Paul who knew the Old Testament was speaking in Bible figurative terms much like we do today in our modern language when he was describing a thorn in his flesh.  Here is an Old Testament verse that Paul no doubt knew and it contains a definition of what a thorn in the flesh meant:

Num 33:55  But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.

God is using figurative language to describe a people.  The children of Israel were instructed by God to drive out the inhabitants of the land and God says if you do not do this those that you allow to stay will become major stumbling blocks to you.  God uses a term “a prick in your eye” or “a thorn in your side” and both of these are a way to describe someone who is causing you either emotional pain or spiritual pain but never a physical pain.  In this case God is warning the children of Israel that these people would cause them to sin against God.  They would introduce them to idol worship and other godless religions.  God figuratively calls this a “pain in their flesh”.  In our world we use this technique of speaking still today to describe people who are causing us emotional distress.  We say “she is a real pain in my….” and you pick the body part that applies.   Let me give you a possible example of this type of person in the Bible that Paul could have been speaking of:

Act 16:16  And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

Here in Acts 16:16 Paul and others are going to pray and a certain demon possessed woman starts following them around.  This certainly qualifies to be a “messenger of Satan”.    A spirit of divination is basically a “fortune teller” who uses evil spirits to try to tell people the future.  We have these confused types of people still in the world today.

Act 16:17  The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

Do you see that this woman starts following Paul around and begins to yell to people “These are the servants of God who show you the way to salvation”.  You cannot read these words in a book and clearly understand the tone that they were spoken in.  I can only assume that these words were spoken as “mocking words of sarcasm and cynicism”.  You see what else would a demon possessed woman be saying?  Satan does not promote a real man of God and tell people how to get saved; Satan is not working to help you out of his kingdom into the kingdom of God.  It is very clear to me that Paul was a great man of God who Satan wanted to cause others not to believe his words from God.   No, you see in these verses an example of how Satan can use a person in the world to be a thorn in your side as we just read about in 2 Corinthians 12:7.  Paul when he describes a “thorn in his flesh” is using figurative language to describe someone who was trying to distract him from the assignment that God had given to him to cause him not to teach the revelations of God.  Satan was clearly not interested in these revelations getting out.  Satan was attempting to thwart them before they were spread around the world. 

I am convinced that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not a physical weakness, a sickness, disability or a disease.  I believe it was Satan’s attempt to keep the revelations of God from being proclaimed.  Regardless of what the thorn was, it was given to Paul by Satan because of the revelations from Jesus.  This means I do not know of anyone in the world today that qualifies to have the same “thorn” that Paul did.  If you think you have been given a thorn in your flesh and that this is a sickness to keep you humble, you better tell me what revelations you are teaching that will make you a Paul.  I want to hear about these revelations very soon, they must be really good for Satan to want to stop them from coming out.  This was a strange Bible lesson on healing, sickness and disease I know, but you have to counter the false teachings with the truth in order to get people to understand that they are not a Paul and they do not have to endure a thorn like Paul did.  Please do not allow the teachings of some men on the earth to allow Satan to keep you in the bondage of sickness.  If you have been taught that Paul endured physical sickness and prayed to God for Him to take it away from him and God did not, therefore you must also endure sickness in your body with the same level of humility, say sorry Satan that will not work on me again.

If you would like to continue reading on the subject of healing in the Bible you can continue to “Part 5“.

About agapegeek

Using the Bible to understand the Bible! Advanced Bible study for mature Chrisitians who want to grow.

Posted on April 5, 2011, in Bible Study, Healing, Understanding and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Thank You again Bro. Ron. I understand now about the thorn in Paul’s flesh


  2. Hello Mr. agape geek. Sir I have a question about my situation. I would like to first give you a brief history of my walk and mistake…. I was saved in 1993 and like all babes in Christ I was on” fire” for the Lord. I did a lot of studying and churchgoing in trying my best to live a good Christian life. Then in 1997 and joined the Army and was exposed for the first time to things like loose women and alcohol. I found myself marrying an unbeliever than six months later we divorced. (She wanted to divorce, but I didn’t) I struggled for a little while with my forgiveness because I knew that God hated divorce. But I was liberated when I found out that their unbelieving spouse wanted to leave, therefore she could leave and I would be free to marry again. But after my divorce-told heavily in fornication and alcohol. Then in 2003 I was deployed to Iraq. (OIF 3) operation Iraqi freedom – 2003. I met a young lady out there in Iraq and we ended up getting married when we returned back to our home base here in America. Shortly after our marriage, we found ourselves doing nothing but arguing every day about everything. It was difficult for me to be a father to her son from a previous relationship because she was use to being a single parent. We had a child of our own together. I just thought being a parent to my own flesh and blood as well as her child would cause her to see that it could be a good father to both. But to no avail, the arguments, got worse and I got fed up. So I started spending more time in the studio (music is my passion) I began performing in clubs and became well known as a local artist. I felt convictions about how my household was out of control and the type of songs I was writing and performing with the gift God had given me but I quenched the Holy Spirit.. So I continued to fornicate with other women. I was young and I married before I was ready. Still this is no excuse for my action of fornication. Soon I met a young lady who was going through a similar situation can we began to talk and become very familiar with one another and we fell in love with each other. My wife and I continuously grew up on that she went to school for a promotion (she was also in the military) and she met a young man that she grew fond of. When she came back and said she wanted a divorce and was very adamant about it. It was at that time that I wanted to be the man of God that I should’ve been the whole time. But she would not have it! A divorce was nonnegotiable!
    After the divorce I continued to see the woman that I was” in love” with. I took her into my new home in Texas and her two children and of course it did not work out. I felt guilt. No matter how much I repented I still felt dirty and convicted and I noticed I was getting weak in my muscles and was soon diagnosed with ALS. She was very helpful and understood what I was going through concerning my faith and my backslidden condition yet she claimed she loved me and did not want to leave but I told her how I felt and that I could not go on in good conscience having a relationship with her. We tried to justify our relationship and blame it on our spouses that they didn’t treat us right or understand us but it was only an unrighteous justification. (Oxymoron) it was a LIE!
    So she went home with her kids to her mom’s house in North Carolina and I’m remaining in Texas. Because of my sin I’ve lost my family and my son and stepson. Of course I still stay in touch with them and I plan to see them soon but of course it’s hard to be without my family. Now my question to you is
    – am I suffering from ALS because of my sin?
    – Am I still able to be healed and forgiven?
    – Am I still able to come into the purpose that God has for me?
    – Can I have a second chance that marriage or is it unlawful for me since I was the fornicator?
    – Should I totally leave the girl I fell in love with alone even though she still wants to be with me?
    Maybe you cannot answer these question. But maybe you can point me to some Scriptures are lessons that you have taught that cover these issues?
    In spite of this mess I have grown closer to God than I ever have before and I’m learning so much and I’ve never been more honest with Jesus than I am today. I’m just hoping and praying for a second chance to live life abundantly. I’ve learned from my mistakes and my desires to present my body as a living sacrifice and I only want to do and speak God’s will and be obedient is my only desire.


    • I should have proofread what I just wrote. There are so many mistakes but I hope you can get the gist of what I’m saying… Jason


    In the summer of 2008, I received the most devastating information about my body that could ever have reached my ears. I was told that I was diagnosed with ALS. Also known as, Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is SUPPOSED to be a terminal, non-curable disease. At first the information shocked me and cause me to get depressed. The depression only lasted a couple of days. On the third day I decided to change my mind about how I felt concerning the information. Yes! I CHANGED my MIND! In doing so, it did not change my circumstances, but it DID change my present and future prospective.
    Let’s look at my circumstances:
    – diagnosed with ALS.
    – No cure found as of yet.
    –Possibility of death may occur.
    – Lifestyle may change drastically.
    For anyone in their right mind, the circumstances are depressing. So in order for me to not be depressed, I had to get out of my” right” mind and put on the” spiritual” mind. The spiritual mind sees and observes things through faith and not through natural sight. A good example would be the story of Peter, a disciple of Christ. Peter and the other disciples were told by Christ Jesus to cast out into the river in journey over to the other side. As they went, they encountered a vicious storm. While Peter tussled with the Oars, he saw a figure walking on the water. Thinking it was a ghost, he became afraid. Jesus called out to Peter and identified himself. Peter being unsure replied.” If it is you Lord, call me to come to you.” Jesus then called to Peter to come forth. Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began to walk toward Jesus. The storm and enormous waves distracted Peter and he took his eyes off of Jesus, which caused him to sink. Jesus reached down and pulled Peter up and told him of his little faith.
    Peter must have been out of his right mind to think he could walk on water! So then he must have been in his spiritual mind/faithful mind. Peter must have decided that what ever Jesus said he could do or commanded him to do would be doable. This is what caused Peter to have the courage to step out of the boat and onto the water. In the same way, we Christians/disciples of today have the word of Christ. Everything that Christ says we are, have and can do is in the Bible. If we believe by faith, all things become possible.
    Not only did Peter believe, but he also had to act on what he believed! thus he stepped out of the boat. I to believe what Christ has said about me! Because I am saved, I am entitled to good health. If Jesus says I am healed by his wounds, and he takes away all of my sicknesses and diseases, then it is so! If Jesus says, I will live and not die and that no weapon formed against me will prosper, then it is so! There is no need to debate, discuss, or consider earthly facts because they are contrary to the word of God.

    Jesus talk is crazy talk! Jesus told the blind to see, and they saw. He told the lame to walk and they walked. He told five pieces of bread and two fish to multiply and they multiplied. The raging sea to calm down and it calmed down. He commanded a dead man to rise and he rose! A fig tree to wither and it withered. A leper to be made clean and he was cleansed. Why is this so hard to believe, conceive and comprehend? Because of a lack of faith! We are programmed to believe what we can see, hear, and experience in the natural. In order to see, hear and experience spiritual things, the mind has to be re-programmed. This is done by simply changing your mind or deciding to believe the word of God.
    Jesus said all power and authority in heaven and in earth has been given to him in his hand by his father. This was accomplished when Christ died on the cross of Calvary. Putting to death all the power of the enemy to include sickness and disease! This same power is given to us who believe! Jesus said” I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of POWER, love and a sound mind.” He also said” I give you POWER to tread over scorpions, demons, and over all the power of the enemy” if we don’t believe we have what Jesus says we have then there is no renewal of the mind! We are instructed to renew our mind and be transformed in our thinking. To realize that we are in the world but not of the world , therefore, we are not governed by the” natural laws” of the world. Rather, we are governed by what Christ Jesus says about us. This is the freedom we have in Christ. As a believer.
    This freedom and spiritual mind causes a PEACE which passes all understanding to calm a cancer patient, an ALS patient, a spouse worried about his/her rocky marriage, a job seeker worried about bills, etc. when we truly accept what Jesus has said about us i.e. WHO WE ARE, WHAT WE ARE, and what we are ENTITLED to, then we will have a different outlook or perspective on our present and future. Through God’s word we experience the growth of our faith. Our faith strengthens our hope and our hope gives us a brighter present and future.
    In my situation, I know that my God is a much bigger than. Lou Gehrig’s disease! There is nothing too hard or impossible for my God! Because I accept the death, burial and resurrection of, Jesus Christ the Messiah, I WILL BE HEALED! There’s just no doubt in my mind or my heart that his promises will come to pass. Amen, Amen, and Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate your time in reading my Bible studies. Healing is a reality that has been given to us all whether we experience it in our flesh or not. Allowing the Word of God to have first place is the beginning to us experiencing what God has said is already true. I would suggest that you change your declaration from “I will be healed” to “I am healed” since that is what God says. Only if two agree can they walk together in victory. God Bless!


      • Thank you sir, I really do need to watch what I say. Therefore I declare that by his stripes I AM HEALED! Life and death is wrapped up in the words we speak and sometimes I am so unaware of what I’m saying. Thank you for correcting me. I noticed that you have a teaching about words. Today I will be reading, studying, and indulging in it for the first time. I’m sure it will be very beneficial. Once again thank you for your availability and obedience to God. He is using you in a mighty way. You remind me of (HANK the Bible answer Man) maybe you’ve heard of him and his radio program? It’s on KDRY 1100 AM radio. Check it out sometime. Well God bless you and thank you again. I am totally spreading the word about this website to all my friends and family! It is awesome!


      • Thank you so much for you comment and time in the Bible. You are blessed by God to become a blessing to all that you meet.


  4. These blogs are so interesting. I’m so glad I found them. Thank you for the work your doing and the ministering you’re doing through your blogs. I hope you don’t think I am trying to antagonize or just want to debate with my questions. My brain is just always spinning and I have questions that I would honestly like to hear your wise Biblical perspective on. I mean you no disrespect from my questions; I sincerely want to know what you have to say. You seem like you have a very analytical mind and have studied the Bible extensively and I respect that.
    First, you mentioned Job and how people think that Satan needed God’s permission to strike him with sickness or whatnot. What is your counter argument to that? I would very much like to hear the response.

    Also, with the prodigal son, didn’t the father say to the jealous son that he has been with him always and all he has is his (sorry, I can’t remember exactly)? So the prodigal was welcomed back, but he didn’t have anymore inheritance right? Did he still have the rights of being the sonm master of the house and all that? So forgiveness isn’t a restoration of all that was lost, right? If faith makes us whole, isn’t that, in essence, a complete wiping out of your natural consequences, because your being forgiven and the sickness (consequences for the sin) is gone. So how much restoration or wholeness does one get? Does this not include consequences being gone? if not, to what degree and what consequences do we have to face and which can we expect to be free of after forgiveness? also, if you are sick and ask God for healing but don’t receive it, does that mean your faith was weak. Sorry if I’m misunderstanding your teaching.
    Finally, I grew up in a calvinistic home and have always hated predestination teaching but could not always refute their verses, like Rom. 9, etc. Could you direct me to a blog you did on refuting this crazy belief?
    thanks again for these blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your studies and they are richly enlightening concerning the fact that diseases and sickness comes from Satan and not God. I am in agreement but I have some difficulty in reconciling the account in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 concerning David’s folly in commissioning a census and the resultant plague. The verses refer to God sending a plague unto Israel thru his angel which claimed the lives of many Israelites. Moreover, why did God gave David the option of a plague if it is not His will for (certain) people to suffer diseases and sickness? It would seem logical and more consistent (to my human understanding anyway) if the options were only limited to fleeing one’s enemies or enduring famine in the land. Please share your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Question: “Who incited David to take the census in 2 Samuel 24, God or Satan? Why was God so angry at David for taking the census? Why did God punish the Israelite people when it was David who ordered the census?”

      Answer: Second Samuel 24:1 says, “Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’” The parallel account of the incident surrounding the census, however, reveals it was Satan who incited David to take the census: “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). This discrepancy is often explained by the understanding that, in order to achieve His purposes, sometimes God sovereignly permits Satan to act. God can use Satan in various ways, with the result being the refining, disciplining, and purification of disobedient believers (Luke 22:31–32; 1 Corinthians 5:1–5; 2 Corinthians 12:7–10). Such might have been the case with David. God allowed Satan to tempt him, and David sinned, revealing his pride, and God then dealt with David accordingly.

      There other considerations concerning the passages relating David’s sinful census. Here is 2 Samuel 24:1 in four translations:

      “Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them . . .” (NIV).

      “Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them . . .” (ESV).

      “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them . . .” (KJV).

      “Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them . . .” (NASB).

      Note that the New American Standard Bible says “it” (the anger of the Lord) is what caused David to take the census. The other translations say “he” (the Lord) did the inciting. The reason for the differences in translation is that, in the original language, there is no subject for the verb incited. The fact is we aren’t told who exactly moved David to take the census. To translate the verse literally, we would say, “There was who moved David against them” or “For one moved David against them.” The translations above have taken this to mean it was either God or His anger that caused David to take the census. But there are other options:

      – The unstated thing that moved David to conduct the census could have been David’s own evil imagination.

      – The “one” who moved David could be Satan, as 1 Chronicles 21:1 says.

      – The “adversary” (the meaning of the word Satan) mentioned in 1 Chronicles could be someone other than the devil; it could have been an unnamed counsellor to David who prompted him into a foolish (or sinful) action.

      As to why God was angry at David, in those times, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel did not belong to David; Israel belonged to God. In Exodus 30:12 God told Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them.” It was up to God to command a census, and if David counted he should only do it at God’s command, receiving a ransom to “atone” for the counting. This is why God was angry again with Israel and is also why David was “conscience-stricken” after he counted Israel. David knew it was wrong and begged God to take away the guilt of his sin (2 Samuel 24:10).

      God gave David a choice of three punishments for his sin—three years of famine, three months of fleeing before his enemies, or three days of plague. David chose the third, and the Lord then punished Israel with a plague that killed 70,000 men from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south. As for why God punished the whole nation for the sin of the king, that is exactly the question David asks in 2 Samuel 24:17. Why, when he was the one who had sinned, did the people have to suffer? He even requested that God’s hand be against him and his family only, and that God would spare the people. But, as with the account of Job, God chose not to give a reason for His actions. Perhaps it was because of Israel’s multiplied sins and rebellion against God throughout the centuries. Perhaps it was a lesson to the people (and to us as well) that the people suffer when their leaders go astray. The reality is that God didn’t justify His actions with a reason, nor does He have to.

      Of the three choices presented to David, the first two would have involved some level of dependency upon the mercy of man: the warfare, of course, would be as severe as the enemy wanted it to be; the famine would require Israel to seek food from other nations, relying on the pity of their neighbors. Instead of relying on the mercy of any human, David chose to rely on the mercy of God—the pestilence was, after all, the most direct form of punishment from God, and in the plague they could only look to God for relief.

      The psalmist tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. Our responsibility to God is to obey Him, to trust Him, and to submit to His will, whether we understand it or not.

      As we see in 2 Samuel 24:16, God was grieved because of the things that were happening to His people, and He called off the punishment. Even in His rebuke God still shows His love and mercy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May I ask if you a Hebrew expert? I would recommend that you a do a very in-depth study of the Hebrew original text. The English translations do not do the original text great justification of accuracy at times. In the Hebrew language many verbs should be conveyed in the “permissive” tense and not the “causative” tense. If God actually does exactly what the English verses say that He did to “Cause” this evil, then this would force us to believe God changed and that would violate the truth found in Malachi 3:6 that states clearly the LORD never changes. Why do I bring this up? Do you ever see Jesus doing evil or making anyone sick in the Gospels? I never found it. Why do I ask this? Only because in John 14:9 Jesus stated very clearly, “if you have seen me, you have seen the father”. Jesus clearly revealed the true nature and character of the Father to humans for the first time. If the Father, made men sick in the O.T. and Jesus healed them in the Gospels, that is a major issue. Jesus said very clearly “A house divided will never stand” (Mar 3:25). I’m not going to argue or debate. I have made my point. It is your choice how you wish to believe. I will give an account for how and what I have taught and we will all be judged by my LORD Jesus. I know I personally am not ashamed to teach what He has given me to teach.

        Thank you for you comment and God Bless you in His great love.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: