2 Samuel 24: 1 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say: “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.” & 1 Chronicles 21: 1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel.
The Lord was angry at Israel and He permitted Satan to incite David to conduct a census. There was nothing wrong with a census done as the Bible proscribed. A
Exodus 30:13-14 says that every adult male in the nation was to pay half a shekel of silver into the sanctuary coffers, a significant expense for most of the people. Exodus 30:12,16, said there would be a plague if the census money was not used to redeem the people.
The census was permitted but not commanded, and it was discouraged by the threat of a plague. A centralized, powerful state was never the biblical ideal B. But, David was the king and the people were organized by his administration. The census was probably to prepare for Solomon’s reign, but no half-shekel tax was collected. Therefore, Israel had to be punished.
Solomon updated David’s census information prior to organizing the nation into groups for forced labor or taxation and to set up twelve administrative districts. C These districts to some degree erased the old tribal boundaries. This was the very thing that Exodus 30 meant to discourage—the reduction of the significance of the tribes and the enhancement of a central administration. The tribes were an ancient part of Israel’s identity, and Solomon’s reorganization did much damage to it. The forced labor to which Israel was subjected in effect returned them to what they were in Egypt: slaves. This began with an improper census.