Apparent Discrepancies in 2 Samuel 23 & 1 Chronicles 21

A young man on Facebook said this in a conversation about the above two passages, which deal with the account of King David’s census of the men of Israel, which he used as “evidence” that the Bible itself cannot be trusted:

First, we already agreed we weren’t interpreting outside the context of the whole. So, in context of the bigger picture, God stirring David was because God already knew the outcome of the situation and was leading David toward a result he already wanted to happen. For some reason God wanted David to disobey, to meet an end of his. This is further evidenced by Romans 9. God makes arbitrary decisions on our fates regardless of what choices we make. We could be absolutely righteous, but if God wanted something else to happen, he would make it so regardless of our choices in life, for he has already decided everything. With that in mind, what purpose could he have for killing people (who I argue had no involvement with the census, other than being forced to do it by their king), many innocent people who did no other wrong than being in the wrong place at the wrong time?
And since you brought it up, you can argue the semantics of the first couple sentences and twist the words around so that it fits what you want it to say, but you can’t argue that the numbers given (in these accounts which you agree are the same) are completely different. In this supposedly divinely inspired book, two people give different numbers in accounts of the same event. Why the mistake? And if there’s this one mistake which we have direct evidence of, how many are there where we don’t have a second account to compare?

My response follows:

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