Gnostic Doctrine

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

God as Satan 1 Chronicles 21:1

God as Satan 1 Chronicles 21:1

" Satan " is a Hebrew word, and transferred to the English Bible untranslated from the original tongue. Cruden (himself a believer in the popular devil) defines it as follows:— "Satan, Sathan, Sathanas: this is a mere Hebrew word, and signifies AN ADVERSARY, AN ENEMY, AN ACCUSER." If Satan is " a mere Hebrew word, signifying adversary," etc., obviously it does not in itself import the evil being which it represents to the common run of English ears.

Because the word 'satan' just means an adversary, a good person, even God Himself, can be termed a 'satan'. In essence there is nothing necessarily sinful about the word itself. The sinful implications which the word 'satan' has are partly due to the fact that our own sinful nature is our biggest 'satan' or adversary, and also due to the fact that the word satan is a personification of human nature the use of the word in the language of the world refers to something associated with sin.

God Himself can be a satan to us by means of bringing trials into our lives, or by standing in the way of a wrong course of action we may be embarking on. But the fact that God can be called a 'satan' does not mean that He Himself is sinful.

The books of Samuel and Chronicles are parallel accounts of the same incidents, as the four gospels are records of the same events but using different language. 2 Sam.24:1 records: "Yahweh...moved David against Israel" in order to make him take a number of Israel.

The parallel account in 1 Chron.21:1 says that "Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David" to take the number. In one passage God does the provoking, in the other Satan does it. 
The only conclusion is that God acted as a ‘Satan’ or adversary to David. He did the same to Job by bringing trials into his life, so that Job said about God: “With the strength of Your hand You oppose me” (Job 30:21); ‘You are acting as a Satan against me’, was what Job was basically saying. Or again, speaking of God: “I must appeal for mercy to my accuser (Satan)” (Job 9:15 NRSV). The Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament uses the Greek word diabolos to translate the Hebrew 'Satan'. Hence Devil and Satan are effectively parallel in meaning. Thus we read in the Septuagint of David being an adversary [Heb. Satan, Gk. diabolos] in 1 Sam. 29:4; the sons of Zeruiah (2 Sam. 19:22), Hadad, Rezon and other opponents to Solomon (1 Kings 5:4; 11:14,23,25). We face a simple choice- if we believe that every reference to 'Satan' or 'Devil' refers to an evil cosmic being, then we have to assume that these people weren't people at all, and that even good men like David were evil. The far more natural reading of these passages is surely that 'Satan' is simply a word meaning 'adversary', and can be applied to people [good and bad], and even God Himself- it carries no pejorative, sinister meaning as a word. The idea is sometimes used to describe our greatest adversary, i.e. our own sin, and at times for whole systems or empires which stand opposed to the people of God and personify sinfulness and evil. But it seems obvious that it is a bizarre approach to Bible reading to insist that whenever we meet these words 'Satan' and 'Devil', we are to understand them as references to a personal, supernatural being.

At the end of the book, Job's friends comforted him over "all the evil that Yahweh had brought upon him" (Job 42:11 cp. 19:21; 8:4). Thus God is the source of "evil" in the sense of being the ultimate permitter of the problems that we have in our lives.

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