When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and killed her husband Uriah the Hittite, God said that this would be his punishment:

11Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
-- 2 Samuel 12:11-12 (KJV)

Later on in the book, Absalom, David's son, seizes the throne and has sex with ten of David's concubines.

21And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. 22So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel.
-- 2 Samuel 16:21-22 (KJV)

This is an exact fulfillment of what God said that He would do to David for committing adultery and killing. However, this means that God is the one who caused Absalom to commit gross sexual sin that he committed.

It is also important to mention a passage from the first chapter of the book of James:

13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
-- James 1:13-15 (KJV)

Also, the Bible says that God wanted to kill Absalom shortly after he did all of these things, and went to open war against David:

And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel. For the LORD had appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom.
--2 Samuel 17:14 (KJV)

Two questions:

  1. Did God cause Absalom to sin?

  2. If so, why would God punish someone for something that He caused them to do?

How can these things be be explained?

  • Welcome to BH.SE! Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. I have formated the quotes so that they are set apart from your own words. Also, I have grouped the questions at the bottom of the text. – enegue Sep 16 '17 at 8:55
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    I'm not sure this question is suited for this site. I think it is more appropriate for christianity.stackexchange.com – Bach Sep 17 '17 at 3:31
  • @Bach Bach, this is exactly what hermeneutics is. I came here because I have seen good answers to other questions of a similar nature to this one. – CMK Sep 17 '17 at 3:32
  • @cmk Judging by the response to your question, it might be worth re-considering its suitability.It is now day 18 and there are no answers. – Nigel J Oct 4 '17 at 20:50
  • @NigelJ It has no upvotes; no one sees it, probably. I think that this question is on-topic, and I still do desire an answer. Thanks. – CMK Oct 4 '17 at 22:11

Two ideas should be kept in mind to understand this enigmatic passage.

  • The fact that God predicts or prophesies something does not mean that God is responsible or caused the event. When God predicts evil - God is not directly responsible for the evil - God simply knows all things and what decisions humans will take.
  • There is another principle at work here. The Hebrews believe (quite rightly) that because God is omnipotent (all powerful) and controlled all things, then God is responsible for all events even when He does not cause them. There are numerous examples of this in the Bible, and here is a sample of this "Divine Passive" principle, ie, that which God does not prevent he indirectly causes, that all things.
  • 2 Sam 24:1 vs 1 Chron 21:1 – Who tempted King David to have a census? God or Satan? Both are correct because to the Hebrew mind, God is omniscient and omnipotent and thus events only occur if He allows. James 1:13 explicitly states that God tempts no one.
  • 1 Sam 16:14, 16, 18:10, 19:9 – God sent an evil (literally, unclean) spirit on Saul? God does not have an evil spirit to send! Again, the omnipotent God is deemed responsible for that which He does not prevent.
  • Judges 9:23 has an identical idea of an evil spirit from God.
  • Ex 9:12, 10:1, 20, 27, 11:10, 14:8 – God causes Pharaoh to harden his heart? Clearly not!
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  • Thanks for answered this long-dead question, Peter. I like your answer, seeing that it is in line with how I was thinking. However, I disagree with your position concerning the hardening of Pharaoh, because of the commentary on it in Romans 9. Although I understand that God didn't have to literally harden Pharaoh in order for Romans 9 to be true, it seems to me like what is written in Romans 9 makes it less likely to be true. – CMK Oct 25 '18 at 22:25

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