The Hebrew word for “satan” means “enemy, adversary”. It is used in this sense numerous times in the Hebrew scriptures to refer to human adversaries. For example, we read, “And the LORD raised up a satan (enemy) for Solomon, Hadad the Edomite, who was of the royal seed in Edom” (1Ki 11:14). And again, “(23) And God raised him up a satan (enemy), Rezon son of Elyada… (25) and he was a satan (enemy) to Israel all the days of Solomon…” (1Ki 11:23-25).
It is often said by many people that claim to be Christian, that in the Old Testament satan is a fallen angel, but there is nothing in the Old Testament in context that says that.
The truth is, in the Old Testament satan (the adversary, the enemy) is either an angel, but satan is not a fallen angel, or satan is a person that God uses to be a satan (adversary, enemy) against someone else.
The first angelic satan (enemy) to appear in the Hebrew scriptures is in the account of the Gentile prophet Bil’am (Balaam). Bil’am had been invited by the Moabite king Balak to curse Israel but God instructed Bil’am not to agree to Balak’s request (Numbers 22:12). Bil’am would not take no for an answer and God eventually agreed that he may go to meet with Balak but not to curse Israel (Numbers 22:22).
Apparently Bil’am had other ideas and set off to curse Israel anyway. God was displeased by this and sent a satanic angel against Bil’am, “And the anger of God burned, for he (Bil’am) was going. And an angel of the LORD stood in the way as a satan (enemy) to him (Bil’am)” (Numbers 22:22). We see the angel of the LORD is called a satan (enemy).
In 1 Chronicles 21:1 satan (the adversary) provokes David to number Israel, but 2 Samuel 24:1 says that God made David number Israel, therefore the satan (the adversary) in 1 Chronicles 21:1 is not the adversary of God, the satan is the adversary of man, the satan is working on behalf of God.
1 Chronicles 21:1 And satan [the adversary] stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.
David’s census is also mentioned in a parallel account in the book of Samuel. The book of Samuel informs us that the one who incited David was the LORD, while the book of Chronicles attributes this to a satan.
2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
So when we read in one book that the LORD incited Israel and in the other that a satan incited Israel, we must conclude that this satan was acting on God’s behalf.
The teaching that says, “satan is a fallen angel” is false.
The truth is, satan is an angel, but satan is not a fallen angel, and the truth is, satan is man (the flesh), and both are used by God to do what God has predestined to happen. In the Old Testament, Satan is not the adversary of God, satan is the adversary of man.