Absalom listened to Ahithophel’s idea about pursuing and killing David and then he turned to Hushai to hear his suggestion. Hushai also had a plan for killing David and Absalom concluded, “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel’s” (II Samuel 17:14a, NLT). It wasn’t better, but Absalom thought so because “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).
So had David’s friend Hushai also turned against him? No, Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had said to Absalom and the elders of Israel and what he himself had advised instead. "‘Quick!’ he told them. ‘Find David and urge him not to stay at the shallows of the Jordan River tonight. He must go across at once into the wilderness beyond. Otherwise he will die and his entire army with him'” (II Samuel 17:15-16).
David had been staying near “the shallows of the Jordan River” so that Zadok and Abiathar’s sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz, would know where to find him to bring word of Absalom’s activities in Jerusalem. “Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David. But a boy spotted them at En-rogel, and he told Absalom about it. So they quickly escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them down inside a well in his courtyard. The man’s wife put a cloth over the top of the well and scattered grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there” (II Samuel 17:17-19).
Jonathan and Ahimaaz were willing to lay their lives on the line for David. To me, even more amazing was their fathers’ willingness to put their own lives at risk as well as the lives of their sons. These men knew God had appointed David to lead Israel and they were willing to whatever it took to bring him back to his rightful place as their leader.
“When Absalom’s men arrived, they asked her, ‘Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ The woman replied, ‘They were here, but they crossed over the brook.’ Absalom’s men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem. Then the two men crawled out of the well and hurried on to King David. ‘Quick!’ they told him, ‘cross the Jordan tonight!’ And they told him how Ahithophel had advised that he be captured and killed. So David and all the people with him went across the Jordan River during the night, and they were all on the other bank before dawn” (II Samuel 17:20-22).
“When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself” (II Samuel 17:23a). Ahithophel realized he thrown in with the wrong lot and took his own life rather than face the music.
“David soon arrived at Mahanaim. By now, Absalom had mobilized the entire army of Israel and was leading his troops across the Jordan River. Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander of his army, replacing Joab, who had been commander under David. Absalom and the Israelite army set up camp in the land of Gilead” (II Samuel 17:24-25a, 26).
“When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash, who came from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and by Makir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim” (II Samuel 17:27). These men brought sleeping mats and food for David and his men, telling David, “You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness” (II Samuel 17:29b).
Reading about David and Absalom is like reading about the War Between the States – family members fighting against family members. Joab had remained faithful to David, but Absalom replaced him with Amasa, who was Joab’s cousin. Amasa’s mother was Abigail and guess who her dad was? Nahash, one of the men who was bringing supplies to David – see 2 Samuel 17:25b).
War is ugly. And so many wars are fought between family members: husbands and wives; parents and children. When a conflict arises, deal with it. Settle it. And refuse to hold grudges.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates