When I first read verse 1 of chapter 24, I thought it was saying God incited David to take the census; but then it wouldn't be sin. Then I read that it was the anger of the Lord that David was responding to. Apparently, I Chronicles says it was satan who incited David. Now Wiersbe is saying the II Samuel does say it was God' but also satan by God inciting satan to incite David so that His will could be done.
That seems like God using satan, directly, which sound like temptation. And the Word says God doesn't tempt anyone. I know He allows evil in a fallen world and uses it for good. But Wiersbe seems to be saying God directed evil.
I'm sure the truth is something we can't conceive of in our limited perspective; but it is good, when I find these contradictions, to see if I am able to reconcile them in my theology or if there is something missing I need to understand. I was on a jury once and had the judge instruct us to assume no one was lying. Unless he, specifically. told us someone perjured themselves, we were to assume everyone was telling the truth, as they knew it. And if people contradicted one another, we were to find a truth in that contradiction. I know the Word of God is all true, so if there is a contradiction, especially one that reflects the character of God, it needs to be accounted for. Mostly the copyist errors seems to be numbers--things easily transposed. So it's unlikely to be that.
So, normally, the census was to collect the temple tax. So it was not a sin if it was commissioned according to the law in Exodus. This was a military census, which had also been done in the past. So it wasn't the census itself that was a sin; but David's motivation.
Sin comes from our heart. We know David had the wrong motivations because Joab, his military leader didn't even want it. Who more than the military leader would want to know the numbers; but Joab didn't. It wasn't necessary. David wanted to know the numbers for his own sake- not trusting God to be his defense.
Wiersbe said it was pride. David wanted numbers to back up his own achievements.
Wiersbe lays out the route Joab took and explained spots Joab skipped (Levites and the tribe of Benjamin. And then he gives his own theories, like Ryrie did, why there are different totals between I Samuel and I Chronicles.
Wiersbe makes an interesting distinction between David's confession regarding Bathsheba and regarding the census. With Bathsheba and Uriah, he says "I have sinned." Here he says, "I have sinned greatly." Wiersbe's theory is that regarding pride. I have a different theory, which maybe is just semantics, but I think the Bethsheba and Uriah were horizontal sins, sins against others. And while all sins are sins against God; to me, it seems like there is a difference when you sin horizontally directly against God. Maybe it is as simple as pride. Pride makes you think you can protect yourself or makes you wrap yourself in achievements that you couldn't have done without The Lord your God. Wiersbe makes the point that 4 of David's children suffered for him to pay for Uriah's life four fold (plus all the people in the ensuing battles, which Wiersbe didn't count). 70,000 died for this iniquity. So David did sin greatly, indeed.
The three choices David was given might seem harsh or even cruel in our modern perspective; but they were the choices listed in the covenant David made: famine, military defeat, pestilence. God is just. We're never going to catch Him being anything other than that which He told us, showed us, and promised us. We are the ones who want the benefits, but then can't hold up our end and then don't want to pay the agreed upon penalty. At least I know how true that is for me.
Wiersbe ends this section with a similar observation to mine. David's sins of murdering Uriah, adultery, and census were all punished severely. However, out of those combined sins, the Temple was built. Solomon was the second baby of Bathsheba's and Davids. And David bought the threshing floor from a Jebusite only because Gad told him that that's what God wanted.
But where sin abounds, grace abounds much moreRomans 5:20 NKJV
Only the Lord of the universe can turn our sin into something beautiful. Blessed be the name of the Lord.