|Absalom, Ahithophel, and Hushai (Artist unknown)|
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Samuel 16:15-17:13
TO CHEW ON: "Now the advice of Ahithophel, which he gave in those days, was as if one had inquired at the oracle of God. So was all the advice of Ahithophel, both with David and Absalom - 2 Samuel 16:23
Ahithophel is an interesting character:
- His name means "brother of folly."
- In contradiction to his name, however, he is known for his unusual wisdom. He was King David's chief counselor (1 Chronicles 27:33), and in our reading he is also a counselor to Absalom. The commentary All the Men of the Bible says of him: "There was no one who could hold a candle to Ahithophel in his day as an able and famous politician. … Such counsel was a proverb in Israel and David's time" (accessed through Biblegateway.com).
- He is also the grandfather of Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3 names Eliab as Bathsheba's father; 2 Samuel 23:34 names Ahithophel as Eliab's father). So there may be a personal reason why he does what he does when Absalom comes calling.
- As Absalom schemes for power, at some point he secretly sends for Ahithophel, who comes over to his side - 1 Samuel 15:12.
- David first discovers Ahithophel's defection from "someone" as he's fleeing from Jerusalem. David's prays, "O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness" - 2 Samuel 15:31.
- Ahithophel is with Absalom when he gets to Jerusalem to take it over (2 Samuel 16:15).
- He is the one who gives the advice that Absalom sleep with his father's concubines (who have been left in Jerusalem to take care of the palace).
- This is a sign of contempt.
- This action fulfills the judgment on David announced by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:11-12).
- This is also a motive-revealing move on Absalom's part. The Reformation Study Bible says about this action: "To remove any thought in Absalom's followers of reconciliation with David, Ahithophel counsels Absalom to lie with David's concubines who have been left behind. This would make clear Absalom's desire for the throne. Whatever the motivation, such behavior was detestable to God (Leviticus 18)" - accessed through Biblegateway.com (emphasis added).
- Ahithophel then gives good advice about how to capture David, which Hushai (David's friend who is pretending to be on Absalom's side) contradicts (2 Samuel 17:1-13). Absalom ends up taking Hushai's advice.
- But the competition between Ahithophel and Hushai is an uneven match from the start, because God is against Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:14). As we carry on past today's reading we discover Ahithophel's fate. He is so distraught when Absalom doesn't take his advice that he goes home and commits suicide - 2 Samuel 17:23.
We can learn from Ahithophel and his story that even the most worldly wise may be foolish in some departments.
1.Though Ahithophel possesses military wisdom, he lacks loyalty and thinks only of himself: "Ahithophel, the wise and trusted counsellor, however, was found unfaithful because he also thought of himself and not of David" - All the Men of the Bible.
2. Unlike David, who spares God's anointed, Ahithophel has no such principles. He proves this when he joins Absalom, who is intent on harming God's anointed (David). He is on the opposite side of the One who whose opinion really matters (2 Samuel 17:14). And so God causes Absalom to favor the less-wise advice of Hushai.
Still today no person or scheme can thwart God and His plans. Let's take comfort from this as we pray for our nations, and our national, provincial (or state), and civic leaders, especially in times of decision. (Here in Canada our next federal election is only months away, in October 2015.)
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that no "wisdom" from people can mess up your plans and defeat the people You have in place to accomplish Your purposes. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.