Why did God use lying spirits?
Prov 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh...
1 Kings 22:23 Yahweh has put a lying spirit into the mouth of all these your prophets.
Ezekiel 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.
2 Thess. 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie...

The alleged problem: If God finds lying to be horrible, why does he put lying spirits into the mouths of prophets and delude people?

Where is the contradiction here? It appears that this objection is asserting that the fact that God does not like lying necessarily implies that He could not use this evil for His own ends as a judgment. This is hardly a valid syllogism. One's feelings toward something don't have any connection with whether it is possible to use that something towards one's own ends.

The question is one for exegesis and theology, and it is a good question that is addressed in commentaries. But as we are dealing with allegations of contradiction here and not theology, this whole point is a non-issue from the standpoint of contradictions. As such, no further discussion is required on this point.

One other verse is different:

Jer. 20:7 O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived ; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.

The second verse is a mistranslation -- the Hebrew word behind "deceive" can also mean "seduce" or "persuade." In the context of Jeremiah, who had to be persuaded by God to take his prophetic calling (Jer. 1:6-7), this is the correct understanding.

Here's a variation on the "God lied" theme, using Judges 20:18:

When the Benjamite leaders refused the demand, the Israelites took an army of 400,000 against the Benjamites, who numbered only 26,700. It looked as if it were going to be a complete rout, so the Israelites, apparently seeing no need to send their entire army out to battle, went up to Bethel to ask "counsel of God":
Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin? And Yahweh said, Judah shall go up first (20:18).
Well, Judah did go up first, and lost 22,000 men in a resounding defeat! So what happened here? The Israelites had asked counsel of Yahweh, and he told them to send Judah out to battle first. Although inerrantists may quibble (as I have heard them do) that Yahweh did not specifically say that Judah would be victorious, if the story happened as recorded--and inerrantists will argue that it did--then deception was certainly involved. One would have to be completely idiotic to think that the Israelites had asked "counsel of Yahweh" to find out which army to deploy in order to be defeated. Obviously, they wanted to know what army would secure a victory for them. So if anything like what is related in this story ever happened, we can conclude only one of two things: (1) Yahweh deceived the Israelites into thinking the forces of Judah could win the battle or (2) Yahweh is not omniscient. Either way the inerrancy doctrine suffers irreparable damage.

This objection fails for lack of context in terms of military tactics. The Benjamite tribe had gathered into one area around the city of Gibeah (20:14); are all 400,000 Israelites going to engage one city? What you'd have is ten to fifteen thousand on the front lines and 385,000 standing back doing nothing because there'd be no place for them to fit in on the front lines, only serving to block any possible retreat.

The part about "seeing no need to send their entire army out to battle" comes apart from tactical knowledge. Beyond that, there is only a "problem" here if it is shown that sending, say, Asher or Naphtali first would have resulted in fewer casualties, and that Judah, despite the losses, nevertheless did not serve some effective purpose.

Notice that the Israelites at the end of the day are bothered not about their losses, but about going up against their Benjamite brethren. This is not further evidence of God's "deception" for it has not a thing to do with their being upset about losses.

For more on this subject, see here.

-Eric Vestrup