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, 2017 at 8:55
  • 1
    I'm not sure this question is suited for this site. I think it is more appropriate for christianity.stackexchange.com
    – bach
    Sep 17, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 at 22:11

3 Answers 3


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!
  • 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, 2018 at 22:25

Exodus 20:13 reads “Thou shalt not kill” the Hebrew word here is rastach which means murder. The verse is better rendered “Thou shalt not murder.” This law stands for all of us. Absalom broke God’s law and was due punishment because of God’s righteousness and the justice it demands. Many of us can say As Ezra did that we have not received the punishment we deserve. However, that is a function of mercy not entitlement as Romans 9 points out. He is sovereign and that at times is hard on me. But I accept that He is sovereign.

As for 2 Samuel 17:14, Evil here is ra, which means intense adversity, pain or unhappiness among other meanings. Also God is not tempting Absalom, He is judging Absalom. Christians know if we do not forgive, then we will not be forgiven and that we should fear Him who is able to cast body and soul into hell. And the Him is not satan. Luke 12:5.

If Absalom is such a vessel of dishonor, then David saw mercy, that God’s Word does not return void and that his actions brought misery to his house. A son who rapes his daughter and another son who murders that son and rebels against the kingdom.

  • 1
    There's no need to mention the age of the question here - bumping isn't a problem like it is on many forums.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 17, 2020 at 22:49

The idea is not so much that God caused David’s enemies to sin but that now God would not hinder his enemies from sinning in this way.

For example, what pagan enemy would not have wanted to take the wives of the king he has just conquered? Pretty much all kings, for political reasons, for reasons of a concentration of beautiful women in a kingly harem, for inflicting pain on the conquered king and also to exert superiority.

It is out of character for God to cause anyone to sin. In fact God causes no one to sin. The Bible in the NT is clear on this point, very explicitly so. He doesn’t even tempt anyone, much less cause them to sin.

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” ‭‭James‬ ‭1:13‬

The understanding in this curse is that David has stepped out from under God’s protection (blessing) and opened himself (and descendants) up to becoming victims of the curse. Any one of David’s enemies could be a candidate, it’s merely a matter of judicial permission in the divine council. Where at one time the accuser (satan) would petition such an event to unfold, God would reject it but now it would be accepted on merit as a consequence of David’s actions.

The means through which God makes decisions on the earth, as they are decided in the divine council, in heaven

If we pay close attention to Absalom’s case the idea did nothing originate with Absalom it originated with a wicked advisor whom David knew to bring wicked council.

“But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.” ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭15:34‬

It is through this man Ahithophel that would have been inspired by an unclean spirit who had petitioned the divine council to persuade Absalom that the council came. When Ahithophel’s council was not observed the unclean spirits discarded them by persuading him to commit suicide.

“When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.” ‭‭2 Samuel‬ ‭17:23‬ ‭

This question is far more complex and involves inspiring spirits, divine council, blessings and curses. Sure God permitted but only on legal grounds.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.