God is faithful to his chosen king; and his plans will not be thwarted by human schemes!
2 Samuel 16:15-17:23
15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with him. 16 Then Hushai the Arkite, David’s confidant, went to Absalom and said to him, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’
17 Absalom said to Hushai, ‘So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?’
18 Hushai said to Absalom, ‘No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people and by all the men of Israel – his I will be, and I will remain with him. 19 Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve the son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.’
20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give us your advice. What should we do?’
21 Ahithophel answered, ‘Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.’ 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.
23 Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who enquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.
17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. 2 I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king 3 and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.’ 4 This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.
5 But Absalom said, ‘Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so that we can hear what he has to say as well.’ 6 When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, ‘Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.’
7 Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.
11 ‘So I advise you: let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba – as numerous as the sand on the seashore – be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.’
14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.
15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, ‘Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message at once and tell David, “Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.”’
17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered corn over it. No one knew anything about it.
20 When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’
The woman answered them, ‘They crossed over the brook.’[c] The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, ‘Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.’ 22 So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his home town. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.
There’s a lot going on in this passage! It’s a long chunk of text and it can be easy for us to feel a bit overwhelmed by it and wonder what we should take away from it – I certainly felt that when I sat down to write this Grow Daily! So, what can we learn from this passage?
The big thing we need to see here is that God is faithful to his chosen king, and his plans will not be thwarted by human schemes.
David’s son Absalom has seized the throne and gained the support of Israel, and David is on the run. And Absalom has a very trusted advisor at his right hand – Ahithophel, who is well known across the land for his excellent advice, to the point where, from 16:23, his advice was considered like that of one who enquires with God. Ahithophel has some advice for Absalom in what to do about David – he suggests a raiding party be sent out immediately to harass David and his troops while they are hungry and tired, and for only David to be killed. The implication here is that this is good advice that would be effective against David
However, one of David’s confidants, Hushai, has meanwhile worked his way into Absalom’s trust, and feeds some counter-advice to Absalom, that would lead to a better situation for David and his men. And it is here that we see God’s hand in this story: For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.
Why did God do this? It is because David is God’s chosen king, NOT Absalom. Even though Absalom is the one who sits on the throne at this point, this has not changed who is the king in God’s sight (see 1 Samuel 16 for the account of God choosing David as king). God has a plan for his anointed king and won’t let human enemies get in the way of that.
It feels like Hushai’s words to Absalom in 16:18 are meant to make Absalom think that Hushai is declaring loyalty to him – but really, they show that his loyalty still lies with David: “No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people and by all the men of Israel – his I will be, and I will remain with him.”
This passage is a great comfort to us, as it reminds us that nothing can get in the way of God’s plans. It doesn’t matter how powerful the human force; if they are aligning themselves against God, they are destined to fail. God is powerful over all things and he is faithful to the promises he made, to be with his anointed king, and to ultimately have the perfect anointed king on the throne, our Lord Jesus, who now reigns forever at the right hand of God.
Head: What other times in 1 and 2 Samuel have we seen the language of a king being chosen/anointed by God?
Heart: Where do your loyalties lie? Are you loyal with your whole life to God’s anointed king, Jesus? In which areas of your life do you find you resist his rule?
Hands: What steps might you take to bring these areas of your life under Jesus’ rule?
Thank you that you are a God who is faithful to your people, and to the promises you have made. We see time and time again throughout the Old Testament that you show your faithfulness to your chosen people Israel. Thank you that you have allowed people from all nations, including us, to share in your wonderful promises by trusting in your true king, Jesus. Please grant us your Spirit to help us to bring our whole lives under his rule and live wholeheartedly for your glory. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: Our Saviour and our King
Church Creek Road