David had prayed concerning his former adviser: “O Lord, let Ahithophel give Absalom foolish advice!” (II Samuel 15:31, NLT). David had also asked the priests Zadok and Abiathar and their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan to remain in Jerusalem as David’s eyes and ears. He’d also gotten his friend Hushai to return to Jerusalem as an adviser to Absalom.
Absalom had accepted Hushai’s offer to advise him, but thus far Absalom had only sought Ahithophel’s advice. “Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, ‘Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband. After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek. Then you will be at peace with all the people.’ This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel” (II Samuel 17:1-4).
Ahithophel wanted to go after David, promising to “kill only the king,” Absalom’s father. Note his reasoning for making this offer: “After all, it is only one man’s life that you seek.” How is David, who doted on Absalom and was far too lenient with him, repaid for his overindulgence? Absalom wasn’t satisfied with merely taking over David’s throne – he wanted him dead. How horrible to read that Ahithophel’s plan to go and murder Absalom’s father “seemed good.”
Folks, I have yet to meet the adult who was spoiled as a child who looks back and appreciates his parents’ leniency. On the other hand, I’ve met countless adults who’ve told me they wished their parents had been stricter. Children need parents, not buddies. Children need clear sets of rules to live by and parents who will lovingly but firmly enforce those rules. David did neither with Absalom.
But David had prayed for Ahithophel’s advice to be “foolish.” So “When Hushai arrived, Absalom told him what Ahithophel had said. Then he asked, ‘What is your opinion? Should we follow Ahithophel’s advice? If not, what do you suggest?’” (II Samuel 17:6).
“‘Well,’ Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘this time Ahithophel has made a mistake. I recommend that you mobilize the entire army of Israel, bringing them from as far away as Dan in the north and Beersheba in the south. That way you will have an army as numerous as the sand on the seashore. And I advise that you personally lead the troops. When we find David, we’ll fall on him like dew that falls on the ground. Then neither he nor any of his men will be left alive.And if David were to escape into some town, you will have all Israel there at your command. Then we can take ropes and drag the walls of the town into the nearest valley until every stone is torn down” (II Samuel 17:7, 11-13).
Hushai was painting a dramatic picture of how they would literally leave no stone unturned to go after David. Had Hushai also turned against David?
“Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s’" (II Samuel 17:14a).
Why did Hushai’s advice sound so much better than Ahithophel’s? For one thing, I think Absalom liked the idea of being there – “You personally lead the troops” – when his father met his end. The biggest reason, though was that “the Lord had determined to defeat the counsel of Ahithophel, which really was the better plan, so that he could bring disaster on Absalom!” (II Samuel 17:14b).
God’s chosen people win. No enemy can stand against God. No human or spiritual force can hinder God’s plan. Absalom was about to very clearly see that his dad was still God’s chosen leader for Israel.