lgtbaner.gif (12718 bytes)

Previous Questions and Answers

q.gif (1639 bytes)    

QUESTION: To be fair, I will admit upfront that I disagree with your KJV-onlyism so please forgive me if my questions seem confrontational. I am also a layperson not a pastor. For many of the reasons you cite for being KJV only, the KJV is my primary Bible although I follow the admonishment of the KJV translators and use a "multitude of translations" to ascertain the best "sense" of the Scriptures. I believe that only the original autographs were Inerrant and were the tool God used to reveal what He would about Himself to mankind. I do not believe anything of what God chose to reveal has been lost despite the frailties of translators and scribes so we can say that we have the complete, inspired Word of God in formally translated versions.

Now, my questions:

1) What was the first choice of punishment given to David for numbering the people? Seven years of famine (II Samuel 24:13) or 3 years of famine (I Chronicles 21:12)?

2) Were the King James translators inspired in their translation decisions? If not, how can the product of their work be considered inspired?


a.gif (1659 bytes)  

ANSWER: Many people that take a position against the King James Version, because of seeming contradictions in the Bible, fail to consider the problems in other translations.

For instance, in the NIV, notice what the translators did in the “problem passage” that you cited. II Samuel 24:11-13 says, “Before David got up the next morning, the word of the LORD had come to Gad the prophet, David's seer: "Go and tell David, `This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.'" So Gad went to David and said to him, "Shall there come upon you three [2] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me" (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?passage=2SAM+24&language=english&version=NIV).
Notice what was done in the NIV. The KJV reads “seven” years of famine, and the NIV reads “three” with a note beside of it. When you look at the note, here is what it says, “[13] Septuagint (see also 1 Chron. 21:12); Hebrew seven” (http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible?passage=2SAM+24&language=english&version=NIV).
They admit that the Hebrew reads “seven,” but they have disregarded the original language of the Old Testament to follow a translation (a corrupt translation), the Septuagint (a supposed Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament). What is amazing, is that many of the NIV crowd cry out greatly against the KJV crowd for supposedly elevating a translation above the original languages — but that is exactly what they (the NIV translators) have done in that passage. They have ignored the Hebrew text because of a hard passage to understand, and have followed a translation.

What people fail to understand is that there are difficult passages in the Bible, which take study to comprehend — sometimes years and years of study. Peter was honest enough to say that he did not understand all of the Scripture that Paul wrote. II Peter 3:15-18 says, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; IN WHICH ARE SOME THINGS HARD TO BE UNDERSTOOD, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” Peter tells us to remain steadfast, despite the unanswered questions and difficulties, and to grow in grace and knowledge.

I do not elevate the KJV above the original languages. That is just an excuse that people give against the KJV, because the “problem” passages are right there in the original languages as well. Further, Peter was not talking about the difficult passages in the Hebrew Old Testament, but he was referring to the Greek writings that Paul was making of the New Testament. The problem is not with the way that the KJV was translated, because the same “problems” exist in the original languages.

It is foolish to criticize the original languages or the KJV. They are both accurate. The thing to do is STUDY and find out the answer to the difficult passages. II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

God promised that He would give His Word pure. II Timothy 3:16,17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

What God gave pure, He then promised to preserve pure. Psalm 12:6,7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

It is the Scripture that is inspired — not the original men God used to write it down, or the men that God has used to preserve His Word through copying and translating. There has only been one perfect Person to live upon earth who never sinned, and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. John 18:38 says, “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” The KJV is a translation of the pure, preserved Word of God without error. We do not elevate man with that statement, but we elevate God’s promise to us, that He would preserve His Word as the purest silver for all generations.

Now, as to the passage that you mentioned, whether we find an answer that fully satisfies us, or not; we still, by faith, believe God. With more study and more prayer, we may see something that sheds further light on the passage someday down the road. But whatever the case, we refuse to start doubting God and His promises.

II Samuel 24:1-15 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. For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing? Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer: Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon, And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.”

I Chronicles 21:1-14 says, “And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. And David said to Joab and to the rulers of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring the number of them to me, that I may know it. And Joab answered, The LORD make his people an hundred times so many more as they be: but, my lord the king, are they not all my lord's servants? why then doth my lord require this thing? why will he be a cause of trespass to Israel? Nevertheless the king's word prevailed against Joab. Wherefore Joab departed, and went throughout all Israel, and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword. But Levi and Benjamin counted he not among them: for the king's word was abominable to Joab. And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. And David said unto God, I have sinned greatly, because I have done this thing: but now, I beseech thee, do away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly. And the LORD spake unto Gad, David's seer, saying, Go and tell David, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things: choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee. So Gad came to David, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Choose thee Either three years' famine; or three months to be destroyed before thy foes, while that the sword of thine enemies overtaketh thee; or else three days the sword of the LORD, even the pestilence, in the land, and the angel of the LORD destroying throughout all the coasts of Israel. Now therefore advise thyself what word I shall bring again to him that sent me. And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. So the LORD sent pestilence upon Israel: and there fell of Israel seventy thousand men.”

If you study the two passages above, you will soon discover that there are more problems than just the length of the famine. The numbers are different in regard to the totals, and there is even a difference in the very first verse of each passage — one seems to say that God was the instigator of the whole problem, and the other says that Satan was the one who stirred up the trouble. So we have many things to try and sort out in this passage.

Is there a contradiction in the very first verses? No. The situation is really no different that it was with Job. Job 1:7-12 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. And THE LORD SAID UNTO SATAN, BEHOLD, ALL THAT HE HATH IS IN THY POWER; ONLY UPON HIMSELF PUT NOT FORTH THINE HAND. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.” Job 2:3 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, ALTHOUGH THOU MOVEST ME AGAINST HIM, TO DESTROY HIM WITHOUT CAUSE.”

Did God destroy all that Job had, or was it Satan who did it? The answer is that God ALLOWED Satan to go against Job to a certain point.

In the case with the passage at hand, it was because of Israel’s sin that God was angry with them. Because of their lack of repentance, God allowed Satan to provoke David to number the people. These first verses and the supposed problem is easily understood, when comparing it to other similar passages of Scripture.

Then there is the problem of the total of the numbers that were tabulated. In II Samuel 24, the total is 1,300,000. In I Chronicles 21, the total comes out to 1,570,000. How do we explain a 270,000 difference? When carefully examining the two passages, we find that II Samuel is giving the total of the “valiant” men that drew the sword (vs. 9); whereas I Chronicles 21 counts “all” the men that drew the sword (vs. 5). What is the difference?

The word “valiant” means, “strong, stout-hearted, exhibiting valor” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). What does it mean to exhibit “valor”? It means, “strength of mind or spirit that enables a man to encounter danger with firmness, personal bravery (syn: heroism)” (Merriam Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary). As you can see, there is a big difference there. Not all soldiers have a hero’s heart, when it actually comes to battle. Some are scared to death, and are paralyzed with fear when they face battle; while others rise up and do heroic acts of bravery. But a 270,000 difference?

Actually, that percentage is smaller than what Gideon faced. Judges 7:1-3 says, “Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod: so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley. And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And THERE RETURNED OF THE PEOPLE TWENTY AND TWO THOUSAND; AND THERE REMAINED TEN THOUSAND.” Gideon lost about two-thirds of his army over this very matter of who was valiant, and who was not!

Then there is the matter of the difference in the length of time that the famine would last. II Samuel 13 says it would last seven years (vs. 13); and I Chronicles 21 gives the length at three years (vs. 12). II Samuel 24 specifically states that the seven years of famine would “come unto thee IN THY LAND…” I Chronicles 21 just gives a general statement as to a famine affecting them for three years. It is possible that the famine would specifically hit Israel for seven years, and the surrounding region for three years. Famines do not always hit an entire region, but sometimes just specific areas. Such was the clear case in the Book of Amos, chapter 4, verses 6-8. “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I CAUSED IT TO RAIN UPON ONE CITY, AND CAUSED IT NOT TO RAIN UPON ANOTHER CITY: ONE PIECE WAS RAINED UPON, AND THE PIECE WHEREUPON IT RAINED NOT WITHERED. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.”

As you can see from these two chapters alone that contain many seeming discrepancies, there are clear and easy solutions to the apparent problems. Remember that we must come to God’s Word in faith, not in doubt. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” God promised to preserve His Word pure for every generation. Once again, Psalm 12:6,7 says, “The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever.”

FlagLine.gif (1691 bytes)

email2.gif (4742 bytes)   home2.gif (4757 bytes)   Previous Questions and Answers

Ask A Question