Who incited David to count the fighting men of Israel?
- God did (2 Samuel 24: 1)
- Satan did (I Chronicles 21:1)
First, let’s see what the Bible says:
“Now again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1) NASB
“Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” (1Chronicles 21:1) NASB
God is the sovereign Lord of all. He fulfils His purposes in His creation through angels or humans or nature or even Satan and the other evil spirits. God's anger allowed David to be incited against Israel. That does not necessarily mean that God Himself directly incited David to count.
Since God can use any agent of His choice to get the desired results it is implied that He chose Satan in this case. This is not a contradiction at all, but a failure on the part of the questioner to understand the biblical statements in their immediate as well as larger contexts.
This come up regularly in various forms and is summarized (paradoxically) by Jeremiah:
Lam 3:38 - Do not both adversity and good come from the mouth of the Most High?
The idea of the Divine Passive is one that is not explicit in the Bible but was created to explain the available, apparently contradictory, facts. Here are some examples:
Thus, the name of this idea, "divine passive" - God is attributed as the cause of that which He does not prevent (in Hebrew thinking).
Thus, there is no contradiction between 2 Sam 24:1 vs 1 Chron 21:1 because, while Satan was the actual tempter, God did not prevent this occurring and thus is attributed as the cause.