2 Samuel 17
-As this chapter commences, Ahithophel counsels Absalom to let him choose 12,000 men to go out and pursue David that very night. His plan was to come upon them while they were weary and exhausted so that that could terrify him with incredible force at an opportune time. He reasoned that all who were with David would then flee, and he could strike down the king alone. Ahithophel promised to bring back all of them to Absalom. He rightly concluded that everything depended on their capture and destroying of David. Peace, he rationalized, would then come when the king was destroyed (2 Samuel 17:1-3). This plan pleased Absalom and all the elders, but Absalom by Divine providence summoned Hushai the Archite also for counsel. He wanted to hear what he had to say. After hearing of Ahithophel’s counsel, Hushai proclaimed it to be bad advice. He countered with the fact that David and his mighty men were fierce warriors that could not be taken lightly. David, he was sure, would not stay with the people overnight. He was an expert in warfare and would be hiding himself in the caves and strongholds of the region that he knew so well from his days of fleeing from Saul. He debated that a first attack would not go well for those siding with Absalom, and that they, even the bravest hearts, would totally lose hope and vigor to fight this fight. He taught respect for David and his men’s mighty prowess and valiant spirit. He then shared his strategy for defeating David. He advised that all Israel be gathered, which would take some time. Remember, he was a spy for King David (2 Samuel 15:32-37). This would give valuable time to communicate with his real loyalty. He also used flattery to persuade the usurper. He told Absalom that all from up north in Dan to the far south in Beersheba would be gathered unto him for this decisive battle in which Absalom should personally go into as a conquering hero of the underprivileged. Hushai recommended that they come to him in one place where David could be found, and then they could all fall on him “as the dew falls on the ground.” He predicted that all of them would be destroyed if this plan were implemented. Even if the opposition retreated into a protected city, all of Israel could bring ropes to that city and drag it into the valley piece by piece until not even a small stone could be found there (2 Samuel 17:4-13).
-Then an unusual outcome was determined. Absalom and all the men of Israel agreed with Hushai’s plan over the counsel of Ahithophel, “For the LORD had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring calamity on Absalom.” Hushai was quick to inform Zadok and Abiathar, the priests who were loyal to David in Jerusalem, about all that had transpired concerning their counsel to Absalom. He wanted them to send quickly to David telling him and his followers to leave the fords of the wilderness immediately and cross over the Jordan; else they could be destroyed. The sons of Zadok, who was Ahimaaz, and Abiathar, who was Jonathan, were staying nearby in En-rogel, would be the informers to David. A maidservant would go and tell them all since they could not be seen entering the city. But a young boy did see them and told Absalom. They departed quickly and came to Bahurim and hid in a man’s well in his courtyard. Down they went into the well. Meanwhile, a woman who defended their cause took a covering and spread it over the well’s mouth with scattered grain on it for camouflage. Absalom’s servants soon arrived to this woman asking where Jonathan and Ahimaaz were. She lied and told them that they had crossed over the river. After they searched a bit and couldn’t find them, they returned empty-handed to Jerusalem. After they had departed, Jonathan and Ahimaaz came up out of the well and went and told David as fast as they could. They said to him, “Arise and cross over the water quickly for thus Ahithophel has counseled against you.” Therefore, David left immediately with all those with him and crossed the Jordan; by that next day’s dawn they were completely over (2 Samuel 17:14-22).
-Now when the egotistical Ahithophel realized that his counsel was shunned, he saddled his donkey, arose, and went to his own home, to his city, set his house in order, and strangled himself (probably a suicide by hanging). He died and was buried in the grave of his father. A dubious ending caused by extreme pride and arrogance in this situation (2 Samuel 17:23).
-Thus, David came to Mahanaim, east of the Jordan, and Absalom soon too crossed over with all the men of Israel in support of his rebellion. Absalom had set Amasa over his army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Ithra the Israelite who went into Abigail the daughter of Nahash, who was the sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. A tangled symmetry of relatives here. All of Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead, preparing for a conflict. The chapter ends with some compassionate acts of Shobi, the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, Machir, the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai, the Gileadite from Rogelim. They brought to David and his people in Mahanaim beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd for them to eat and get replenished. Their synopsis was this, “The people are hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness (2 Samuel 17:24-29).”
-*Application* We cannot thwart God’s plan and purpose no matter how wise we might think we, or our counsel, are. On whom the LORD wants to bring calamity, He will bring calamity. On those whom He wants to bless, He will bless. We only need to inspect the motives to see why God blesses some and curses others. The character of David compared to his son Absalom should be a lesson for us. David had a heart after God. Absalom had a heart bent on revenge and selfish pride
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 17:7, 14