Ahithophel is a name with a Hebrew origin meaning ‘Brother of Folly”. Contrary to what his name means Ahithophel was a wise, trusted and respected counsellor to King David. In 2 Samuel 16:23 we read “Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like the one who inquires of God. That was how David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.”
Absalom, King David’s third son who returns to Jerusalem after a period of exile for killing his brother Amnon, begins to conspire to overthrow his father and take the throne. In 2 Samuel 15:12 we read that Absalom sends for Ahithophel, the Gilonite, David’s counsellor to join him.
In 2 Samuel 15:31 we read “Now David had been told, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So, David prayed, ‘O Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel to foolishness.”
Ahithophel served King David as his trusted counsellor and yet he joins in the conspiracy with Absalom. Why? His allegiance to David did not seem to last. Was it for political gain or for other reasons?
In 2 Samuel 23:34, where David’s mighty men are mentioned, we read “Eliam, son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.” Here we get a connection between Ahithophel and Eliam.
Who is Eliam? Besides being one of David’s most valiant warriors, we come across Eliam in chapter 11, when David sees Bathsheba and enquires about her “The man said, Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, and the wife of Uriah, the Hittite.”
This makes Ahithophel, Bathsheba’s grandfather. And indicates to us that the desire to conspire against David is more personal.
David flees from Jerusalem out of fear of the possible loss of lives as Absalom and his men seem to be gaining strength in their revolt. Ahithophel advices Absalom, 2 Samuel 17: 1-2 “I would choose twelve thousand men and set out in pursuit of David. 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 will strike down only the King.”
The emphasis of Ahithophel wanting to ensure that King David is killed reveals his true feelings towards David. Ahithophel’s family endured much at the hands of King David. The loss of Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband at the command of King David, besides the emotional turmoil they as a family underwent, the possible societal humiliation must have been harsh. People would have been quick to blame Bathsheba for luring King David. We are not given clarity if she was willing in her tryst with David or not, as there has been some contention about it in explanations. But we begin to understand that Ahithophel held resentment towards King David for all that happened and he seems to have been waiting for an opportunity to get revenge.
When unforgiveness festers in our soul, it begins to rot our very core.
Ahithophel struggled to move on from that anger and hurt in his heart. God had forgiven David, but it did not mean that David did not have to endure the consequences of his sin. He very much did. He endured the loss of his first son by Bathsheba. But if we do think about it, that loss would have further grieved Bathsheba and Ahithophel. And he would have placed more blame on David for it.
Absalom (David’s son) does not heed Ahithophel’s earlier advice about attacking David and Ahithophel eventually becomes convinced that the rebellion would fail and he would be found guilty of conspiring against David. So, he ends his life by hanging himself.
Ahithophel meets his end bound by unforgiveness and anger still very much in his heart. A wise man, whose advice was once considered direct from God allowed that anger to stew within him that drew him to actions that would be so far removed from anything godly.
Allowing unforgiveness and anger to fester in our hearts sure gives Satan ample room to work in us and turn the hurt and pain to bitterness and hate.
Roman 12:19 says “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.’ says the Lord.”
With the desire to pursue vengeance we put ourselves above God deeming ourselves to be Judge over another.
We are to forgive others as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). I sure struggle with readily forgiving someone. But Christ tells us to forgive just as He did. We can do that only in His strength.
Grant Mullen, author of ‘Emotionally Free’ explains. “Forgiveness involves just you and God. Reconciliation requires another person.”
Forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things. Forgiveness is not conditioned on the response of the other person towards us. It is not between you and the person who hurt you, it is more between you and God.
Forgiveness is placing that hurt and pain at God’s feet and saying, Lord, I give this to you, free me of this so that I do not hold on to anger and be bound by it. It is letting go so that God can heal us and fill up that hurt with his love. You do not have to pace your emotional healing based on any other person, on whether they are ready to accept that they wronged you.
Ahithophel felt resentment toward David, held on to that hurt and pain, allowed it to grow into anger and bitterness. We must remember that we should not minimise what Ahithophel felt.
His wrong was not hurting for his family but failing to give those to God.
Is anything hindering you from forgiving anyone that hurt you? I pray that we can lay our hurts at His feet and surrender them to God. Allow ourselves to be healed with His love and free ourselves from the shackles that can bind us from experiencing that freedom in Christ.