Let me say this from the outset, God surely KNOWS when and how every person will die, for He is OMNISCIENT (all-knowing…see 1st John 3:20). In Psalm 139:16 David wrote, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written THE DAYS THAT WE ORDAINED FOR ME, when as yet there was not one of them” (NASB). God knew the day David was conceived in his mother’s womb and He recorded ALL THE DAYS of David’s life, including his LAST DAY, the day of His death. But this does NOT mean God PLANNED when and how David would die.

The “fatalist” (one who believes that “all events are predetermined and therefore evitable”) often teaches that God has indeed predetermined when and how each person will die, but this is simply not true. As we have said, God KNOWS when and how a person will die and we can go a step further and say, “God is SOVEREIGN” (in “complete control over all events”) so He either CAUSES or ALLOWS a person to die.” In the case of one committing suicide, God surely KNOWS when a person ends their life and He ALLOWS it to happen, but He does NOT CAUSE IT to happen. That person was obviously so miserable with the circumstances of their life that THEY DECIDED to end it, but it was not God forcing them to put a gun to their head or a knife to their wrist.

Yet there are many examples where God did CAUSE a person’s death. There are literally hundreds of examples in Scripture of God CAUSING people to die because of their disobedience to Him. One such example is the death of Eli’s sons in the book of 1st Samuel. We read in 2:11 that “the sons of Eli were corrupt.” They were guilty of abusing the priesthood (see verses 13-16) and thus “the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD” (verse 17). Eli had “heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (verse 22) and he rebuked them for it by saying, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people, No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’S people to transgress. If one man sins against another, GOD WILL JUDGE HIM” (verses 23-25a). Yet his sons “did not heed the voice of their father, because the LORD desired to KILL THEM” (verse 25b). The death of Eli’s two sons is recorded in 4:11 which says, “Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” It was the Philistines who killed them but their death was determined by God; it was His judgment upon them for their willful disobedience to Him.

We could list other examples of God’s holy judgments that resulted in death, the most solemn being the death of nearly the whole human race for their sins of violence and corruption in the days of Noah (Genesis 6:5-8, 11-13; 7:17-23). God surely KNEW the day of their death AND He PLANNED when and how they would die. This is the case in all of His judgments upon wicked men. But there are, as we noted, cases where men decide their own fate by taking their own life. Others die a “slower death” by taking drugs or drinking too much alcohol (that eventually destroys their vital organs), living a life filled with violence, having illicit sex that leads to fatal diseases, etc. In these cases it is not God CAUSING their death, but a case of God ALLOWING their death because they “reaped what they had sown.” We see this principle in Galatians 6:8a, “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption.”  (437.5)  (DO)