Ahithophel's Plan (v 1-4)
Ahithophel's advice was to pursue David right away, that night.
- He would take 12,000 men and pursue that night (wasn't he an old man? Bathsheba's grandfather? Although I guess that had kids early)
- He counted on David being weary and exhausted (which we know was true.)
- He would frighten David and scatter everyone- leaving David alone.
- Then strike the king down while he was alone. It strikes me as interesting that he wanted to strike down the king while he was alone. No witnesses? Striking God's chosen king was punishable by death...
- Then he'll bring back all of those who fled (presumably so they would be a whole nation again)
- He then says that, in order to get everyone to return, depended on the 'the man you seek'. "Then the people will be at peace."
- This struck me as odd.
- I'm surprised they would want David's people back. It seems like they would want to destroy or send away anyone whose loyalty would always be for David. Maybe Ahithophel diluted himself into thinking Absalom should be the real king and that Absalom would be a better king than David. If so, he was very foolish for a wise man. Revenge will do that to the brain.
- Also, why did he need to say it at all. I guess it means we won't have peace until you strike the man you seek.
And then there is this doosy of a sentence: "So the plan pleased Absalom and all of the elders of Israel.
Ouch. The elders for the whole nation had been spun into this wretched plot. They should have learned their lesson from backing Saul and had David's back. Because they let Saul run around unchecked, he was chasing David instead of building up the nation from the rubble it had been. And now they were backing Absalom's play? Disgraceful. When God anoints a king, you back him all the way! Why on earth would they go against God again so soon.
And I've asked this before, but what was going on with David that he lost control of his household, then the whole capital city, and then the whole nation. One commentary said he was sick; but he was well enough to flee barefoot and climb a hill?
Having said all of that, I have to confess my own lifetime of struggling with authority. Which I never once took to be rebellion against God but against all of the imperfect leaders in my life. Until, in Self-Confrontation class, I was digging into a problem areas and found rebellion. And like it or not- that rebellion is against God. Sin is our way of telling Him that we don't think His plan or provision is enough.
And that's what the elders were doing. Our sick king (or whatever their excuse was) isn't good enough. We'll choose a different king. [with no consideration of God's provision or plan]. And they saw the covenant. They heard the plan...but figured they'd still get God's promises from the covenant- David or not...
Hushai's Plan (v 5-23)
The Absalom called for Hushai the Archite to hear his counsel. (Reminder that Hushai was David's friend, whom David had sent back to infiltrate Absalom's court and spy for David.)
Hushai stated that Aihthophel's plan was no good because Aihthophel had made the wrong assumption about David's condition. Even though Aihthophel was correct in David being weary; Hushai reminded them of how strong and cunning David could be. And since he was on the defense, he would be a bear separated from her cubs. He would have separated from the people and be ready to ambush the pursuers. If Absalom's first attempt led to a defeat, the people would hear about it and Absalom would lose face in his early reign.
The sad thing is, that Hushai's ploy worked because all of that had been true about David. He had been strong and mighty and an expert at warfare. All of that should have been true. But Ahithophel had a better sense of the actual situation.
Absalom and the elders chose Hushai's advice and, if I understand this correctly, he explains that the Lord must've given Ahithophel bad counsel in order to bring down Absalom. So Absalom thinks he has outwitted God?
So Hushai's deception bought David and his entourage time. David's intelligence ring got the plan to him and he immediately got everyone across the Jordan and out of quick reach.
When Ahithophel saw that his advice hadn't been taken, he went home, got his affairs in order and killed himself.
I was quite shocked to see this. After all of these years, I still get shocked when there is a rape or a suicide, or some other human tragedy. I continue to misjudge what the Bible is and how relevant it is.
And I'm surprised Ahithophel had such a permanent, reactionary response. I wonder why he didn't stay and continue to try and counsel Absalom. Unless he could see clearly from this first episode that God was not on his side and it was going to end badly either way? I'll be curious to see if the commentaries have any explanations.
Ryrie simply says that he realized his cause was lost.
That's so truly sad and awful. He was so bent on revenge that when it became appearant he wouldn't get it, he would rather die.
Absalom Leads the Charge (17: 24-29)
So David is on the move and Absalom has taken lead of the men of Israel. They are in hot pursuit and have also crossed the Jordan.
Absalom replaced Joab as leader of the army.
Someone brought David and his people provisions as they were hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness.