Satan arose Israel and incited David to number Israel.
I Chronicles 21:1
One of my favorite aspects of reading such large swaths of scripture is the connections that you can make with other parts that you have already read. This particular story is also found in II Samuel 24 and in that story it is the Lord who arises Israel and incites David to count them. In both accounts the Lord is upset at David for counting the people.
It is always interesting when the accuser, Satan, makes an appearance. It is even more interesting when it is the first time that Satan makes an appearance in the bible.
The writer of Chronicles must have known something about this accuser, Satan. Something that obviously the writer of II Samuel did not know. In the theology of the writer of I Chronicles the accuser (Satan) knows the doubts arising in David. Entering into battle not knowing who to count on would make sense, but if you are fighting for the Lord it should not matter how many you have. If the Lord claimed victory for you then you would have victory.
I think that our stories say a lot about our theology. Who is God for us? Who are our enemies? Why do we make mistakes? Why are we victorious? Why are we defeated? Are questions whose answers tell us much about our understandings of God, the human condition and the world.
The writer of II Samuel seems to believe that the divine, God, is the cause of all that takes place, including evil spirits, and mistakes in counting. Now in the writing of I Chronicles we have the introduction of a new character, one that we will become familiar with going forward.
The story of the people takes a turn, our story of faith takes a turn. It continues to unfold and tell us much about God, humanity, creation. Most of all it tells us about the need for divine grace in all of the created order.