What is it that stands behind all the events that we are seeing unfold before us in 2 Samuel? Our God who is sovereign. Simply put, God’s sovereignty is His right to reign and rule over all creation for His glory. This has been seen as the words spoken by Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 12 are coming true in the chapters that follow. This has been seen as “Yahweh gave victory to David wherever he went” (2 Sam. 8:6, 14) in the various battles David fought. It again can be seen as we come to 2 Samuel 17. Let’s take a look.
As backdrop to all of this we must remember the words of Abner, yes the dead commander, in 2 Samuel 3:18, “Now then bring it about, for Yahweh has promised David, saying, ‘By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from the hand of all their enemies.” Does this include foreign or domestic enemies? I think you already know the answer to that.
At the end of 2 Samuel 16 Ahithophel counseled Absalom by giving his first piece of advice, go in to your fathers concubines and make yourself “a stench to your father” (v. 21). A king who cannot protect his wives, cannot protect the kingdom. Ahithophel, in our chapter today, now offers his second piece of advice. The game plan is to kill David while he is on the run and doesn’t have time to regroup or think things through. Moreover, kill only David and bring the rest of his men, who now have nothing to fight for, back before Absalom like a bride returning to her husband (2 Sam. 17:1-3). The advice Ahithophel gave was rightly recognized as “good” (v. 14) and it was precisely this counsel that “Yahweh had ordained to defeat” (v. 14). Why? “So that Yahweh might bring harm upon Absalom” (v. 14b). Don’t mess with God’s anointed, aka David. Ahithophel’s “good” counsel is speaking practically, not morally. For sleeping with your father’s concubines and slaying Yahweh’s anointed king wouldn’t be good for you morally. Had Absalom listened to Ahithophel, he would have been successful in eliminating King David. So what got in the way? Enter Hushai.
Actually Hushai entered Jerusalem back in 2 Samuel 15. David makes it clear to his friend that if he returns to Jerusalem he will be of greater help to the king then if he stays (2 Sam. 15:33-34). It was Hushai whom David saw shortly after asking Yahweh to “please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness” (v. 31b), enter Hushai. David was confident that his friend was the instrument God would use to defeat Ahithophel, a tall order indeed, but remember what is behind, around, and at work always? God’s sovereignty!
Why Absalom ever sought Hushai’s advice when Ahithophel’s counsel “was as if one consulted the word of God” (2 Sam. 16:23a) we will never…oh wait, we know. Yahweh ordained it (2 Sam. 17:14). He brought it about, so Absalom asks for Hushai’s advice. Boldly, Hushai says that Ahithophel’s counsel is not good, this time (2 Sam. 17:7). I say it is bold because Absalom and the elders agree that Ahithophel’s advice was right in their eyes. What Hushai does is appeals to the legend of David. Well, both the legend of David and to Absalom’s ego. In summary, Hushai reminds Absalom that David and the men with him “are mighty men” (v. 8) and his father is an “expert in war” (v. 8). David will suspect this quick attack and therefore “he will not spend the night with the people” (v. 8). Hushai slows the narrative down, his speech is about 3.5x longer than Ahithophel, and that is what he looks to do with Absalom. Don’t be rash (v. 9). What would be better is to gather all the army and place Absalom at the front, where all will see him (ego / vain glory piece), and go and destroy David and his men (vv. 11-12). The result, “And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel” (v. 14a). Ahithophel ends his own life when his advice is not taken. Perhaps he recognized that Absalom wouldn’t be successful and/or David wouldn’t be so gracious to him should he come back.
While it appears Hushai has done it, we know that it was the work of Yahweh (v. 14b). As news gets relayed to David we have another “Rahab” who hides the spies moment (see vv. 18-20; Joshua 2:1-7). Jonathan and Ahimaaz were seen and pursued by Absalom’s servants but were hidden in a well before relaying the message to David. God provides for David and the people with him by the hands of several Gentiles. May we never lose sight of God’s workings in our life, nor fail to tell others of His wondrous works. “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord Yahweh my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works” (Psalm 73:28).