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Comparing 2 Samuel 24 & 1 Chronicles 21
The books of Samuel-Kings and Chronicles often offer two different versions of episodes. The two versions may be thought of as complimentary, with each designed to meet the ends of the larger narrative of which it is a part. The Chronicler wrote his story much later than Samuel and Kings, and used these along with other sources. For the present comparison we may consider each version of the episode of David’s sin with the census themselves, compare the two, and then each in the own larger contexts (that is how they fit in Samuel and Chronicles respectively).
Read 2 Samuel 24 and take notes. One of the issues is that we do not know exactly what David’s sin is. It is not a sin to take a census. The larger point is that he did sin. Read 1 Chronicles 21 and take notes.
Compare the accounts of David’s sin in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21. What are the differences between the two in term of:
(1) Who tested or tempted David? (The differences here are notorious. Interpreters often try to resolve this challenge by looking to the beginning of the book of Job. How do you think the book of Job is used here?)
(2) What about the “angel”?
(3) Fire?
(4) Other differences?
(5) What do we learn about the location of the “threshing floor” from 1 Chronicles 22:1 and 2 Chronicle 3:1?
In the book of Samuel, David is contrasted to Saul in that he has “a heart like God’s heart” (see 1 Sam 13:13-14). One often key differences between Saul and David is how they each respond to their sin when confronted by the prophet of God (compare 1 Sam 15 and 2 Sam 12). How does David’s response to his sin in 2 Samuel 24 accent the difference between Saul and David even further? In what other ways does the story of David’s sin with the census in 2 Samuel 24 function as a good closing to the book of Samuel?
David’s work toward the building of the temple receives great focus in the book of Chronicles. How do the differences in the Chronicler’s version of David’s sin with the census fit in with this focus on the temple? What do you think the Chronicler is trying to accomplish by presenting this episode as he has?

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