Here’s the recap: Ahithophel was “one of David’s counselors” (II Samuel 15:12b, NLT) and the grandfather of Bathsheba; he had joined with Absalom against David. David, on the run from Absalom, was met by Ziba, the servant of Saul’s grandson Mephibosheth, who told him that Mephibosheth “stayed in Jerusalem” (II Samuel 16:3b), meaning he had sided with Absalom. Then along his journey, David was pelted with rocks and cursed by “Shimei son of Gera, from the same clan as Saul’s family” (II Samuel 16:5b, NLT).
But when one of David’s men, “Abishai son of Zeruiah, demanded, ‘Let me go over and cut off his head!’” (II Samuel 16:9b), David responded, “Leave him alone and let him curse… And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses today” (II Samuel 16:11b, 12).
David realized he had to keep his energy focused on the main issue: his troubles with Absalom. Remember, David had “told Zadok the priest, ‘Look, here is my plan. You and Abiathar should return quietly to the city with your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan” (II Samuel 15:27). That gave David four good pairs of eyes and ears in Jerusalem. Also, “David’s friend Hushai returned to Jerusalem” (II Samuel 15:37a), giving him one more spy in the city.
“Meanwhile, Absalom and all the army of Israel arrived at Jerusalem, accompanied by Ahithophel” (II Samuel 16:15). “When someone told David that his adviser Ahithophel was now backing Absalom, David prayed, ‘O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!’” (II Samuel 15:31).
“When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite arrived, he went immediately to see Absalom. ‘Long live the king!’ he exclaimed. ‘Long live the king!’” (II Samuel 16:16).
“‘Is this the way you treat your friend David?’ Absalom asked him. ‘Why aren’t you with him?’” (II Samuel 16:17).
“‘I’m here because I belong to the man who is chosen by the Lord and by all the men of Israel,’ Hushai replied” (II Samuel 16:18). Don’t you love this: “I belong to the man who is chosen by the Lord.” Hushai, of course, was referring to David but knew Absalom would take it as meaning him.
Hushai continued: “And anyway, why shouldn’t I serve you? Just as I was your father’s adviser, now I will be your adviser!” (II Samuel 16:19).
“Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and asked him, ‘What should I do next?’” (II Samuel 16:20).
“Ahithophel told him, ‘Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you’” (II Samuel 16:21).
Taking the wives or concubines of a conquered foe was a common practice. It was an in-your-face way of letting your enemy and everyone else know that you were in absolute authority. Absalom listened to Ahithophel’s advice and “set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone” (II Samuel 16:22a) would be perfectly aware of what Absalom was doing. Besides disgracing these poor women, Absalom was spitting in the face of his father.
“Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice” (II Samuel 16:23a). But remember David’s prayer? It was going to be answered.
“Free advice is sometimes the most costly kind.” (Woodrow Kroll)