How do you respond to 2 Samuel 17:14–15?

“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 ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring ruin on Absalom.”

This passage is sometimes cited to support the view that God ordains all things, including how people respond to other people’s advice. I submit that this conclusion goes beyond what the passage warrants. In response to David’s prayer, and in line with his sovereign design to secure the throne of David, God had determined to “turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (1 Sam. 15:31) and thereby bring judgment upon Absalom, King David’s wicked son.

The passage does not suggest that God had ordained Absalom’s foolishness from before creation. What God does in this passage he does in response to what humans do. Absalom’s wickedness was not part of God’s sovereign plan. This was entirely Absalom’s own doing. But because Absalom chooses this for himself, God is able to ensure that his wicked schemes have a disastrous outcome (2 Sam. 18:9–15, cf. Prov. 16:9).

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