“And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). The word translated provoked in this verse is the same word translated moved in 2 Samuel 24:1 where it says, “And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.”
It would appear that both the LORD and Satan caused David to number or take a census of Israel’s army. The Hebrew word cuwth (sooth) means to prick or stimulate and by implication to seduce (5496).
After David instructed Joab to number the people, Joab asked him, “why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?” (2 Samuel 24:3). The word translated delight, chaphets (chaw – fates´) indicates the prompting of the heart to take a certain course of action (2654), so you could say the LORD put it on David’s heart to number the people.
“Satan is an adversary or plotter, one who devises means for opposition” (7854). As in the situation with Job, Satan directly attacked David, but he did it through a completely different means. Satan used David to bring judgement on Israel. It is possible that God was behind Satan’s attack because it says in 2 Samuel 24:1 that he was angry with Israel. “God took direct action to test David to help him learn a vital lesson. God tests believers to help them make the right choices and not depend on their own human strength” (7854).
God was preparing Israel for a time a of rest. He wanted them to settle down and cease from military activity. (2 Samuel 22:9). As David’s death approached, a transition was taking place so that his son Solomon could establish a temple, “to build a house for the LORD God of Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:6).
David also commanded all the princes of Israel to help Solomon his son, saying, Is not the LORD your God with you? and hath he not given you rest on every side” for he hath given the inhabitants of the land into mine hand; and the land is subdued before the LORD, and before his people. (1 Chronicles 22:17-18)
The word translated rest, yether implies superiority or preeminence (3499). The Israelites had tread down or subdued their enemies to the point where they no longer needed to worry about the size of their army. It was a time for them to focus on worshipping the LORD and tending to their homes and families.
David concluded his final command to the princes of Israel with these words, “Now set your heart and soul to seek the LORD your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19). In essence, what David was instructing the people to do was give their hearts to God. The idea being that they would immerse themselves in his word and learn how to do things his way. They were to discover the will of God and do it.