What is it that causes a person who was once a friend to turn into a treacherous betrayer? For King David's own personal friend and counsellor, this may have been the very deep and personal pain of a loved one whose life was exploited by the abuse of King David's own authority. As the grandfather of the lovely Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittitite, whom David committed adultery with, it is likely that the sin of betrayal of the magnitude of Ahithophel's was borne out of the anger which he harbored towards his king! Disgrace had been brought upon the family that Ahithophel loved. This may have been the reason that he chose to desert the king. (2 Sam. 11:3; 23:34) Yeshua haMashiach/Jesus Christ was "delivered up" because of envy! (Matthew 27:18) Envy is defined as: A painful or resentful awareness of another's advantage joined with the desire to possess the same advantage. The advantage may concern material goods (Gen. 26:14) or social status (30:1). God prospered Isaac and the Philistines envied him: Gen 26:14 "For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him."
Some envy others over social status. Having children was a social status in Israel, and the childless envied those with children. Leah had four children, whereas Rachel had none, and scripture says in Gen 30:1 "And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die."
Nothing is more important to ones holiness and moral character, than wise and understanding counsel from a trusted advisor. Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5) Rebels do not tend to gather friends of this sort, because "they do not come to the light, as scripture says, that their deeds might be reproved."
Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David's counsellor, from his city from Giloh while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number.
2 Samuel 15 v 12
AHITHOPHEL THE OPPORTUNIST
Ahithophel had won the confidence of King David. He did not lack skill or military might. But in many serious ways, his military prowess hid his lack of allegiance that proved deceptive and superficial. Why did Ahithophel choose to lend his military support to the young rebel Absolom? Or how could Absolom trust a man who betrayed his own father? Perhaps Absolom, David's son placed trust in Ahithophel because David himself had trusted him, and David was a man of great military skill and might. David's son Absolom saw himself in training for reigning. In II Samuel 15:12 we note that Ahithophel came to Absalom "while he offered sacrifices". Absalom also had an outward show of religion, but his heart was far from God.
The ambition of his heart meant more to him than loyalty to God or to God's own king, the King of Israel. Observing that David was going through a time of trial, and that the tide of popularity appeared to have turned against him, and toward amother, he did not wish to be on the side of what he determined to be the losing side. He grasped for the rising star in the night sky. Have you noticed the way in which trials can weed your friendships and family relationships? Let the good times roll, and friends may be innumerable. b. Many are inseparable companions in good times. But in adversity, disloyalty can surface as suddenly as an August squall. In Romans 16:17-18, Paul warned against such, saying: I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Yeshua/Jesus spoke the following parable, to show how good is sown among the bad, and it takes discernment, to know what to keep and what to disgard. We see the Lord say to let them grow together, lest the wheat be rooted out by mistake and prematurely destroyed. But there's a time in which weeding of this sort is absolutely a necessity, when you have proof of immorality, and divisiveness being sown among the people of God. What is truly a danger to ones own family, place of worship and ones owwn well being well being must be carefully considered and dealt with according to the word of the Lord.
THE SELFISH AMBITION OF AHITHOPHEL
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be that of Yeshua haMashiach/Christ Jesus, who humbled himself, taking the form of a servant. (Philippians 2:3-5)
Selfish ambition means to be self-seeking and always looking out for one's own interests above the interests of others. The Greek word for this trait is "eritheia," and selfishly ambitious people are those who want to achieve position, such as in a group, by exalting themselves and making themselves look bigger and better before others through trickery. They frequently do so under a guise of humility. The Antichrist spirit is inherent in selfish ambition of this sort. When the Antichrist comes, he will be characterized by eritheia, selfish ambition, and he will use deceit and trickery to promote himself.
In today's world selfishly ambitious behavior is popular, because of a general appreciation for expediency. However, the Bible considers selfish ambition as evil. It's one of the works of the flesh that we read about in Galatians 5:20, and in Romans 2:8 we read that the wrath of God awaits those who are selfishly ambitious. In James 3:14-16 we read that the wisdom of a selfishly ambitious person comes from the devil, not from above, and in his letter to the Philippians Paul warns us that even ministers of the gospel can be self-seeking and vainglorious (Phil. 1:17).
Paul warns us in A man characterized by this vice of eritheia is full of himself. Such a person lives to glorify himself, but there is a problem in doing that. In the process of seeking his own interests first and seeking to glorify himself rather than others, a selfishly ambitious person will destroy himself. Selfish ambition yields bitter fruit, in other words. In this study I want to examine several examples from the Bible of people whose lives illustrate selfish ambition and its bitter fruit. This is but another reason why God states in Isaiah that "With stammering lips and another tongue will I speak to this people," saying this is the rest, wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest. And this is the refreshing!"
AHITHOPHEL'S DIVISIVE SPIRIT
The immature in faith are quick to get caught up in tabloid issues. And if you are not doing what the Bible clearly says then why should God reveal more to you? And false ideas are bad enough, but even true knowledge can puff one up with pride and cause unnecessary division if not applied in love.
However, what really constitutes being a "divisive" person? Was Paul being divisive when he argues against the group of the circumcision and when he rebukes Christians for sin? Was Jesus being divisive when he spoke against the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day?
The word "divisive" means literally "heretic" and is "hairetikos" in the greek. It speaks of a person who is separating him or herself from a scriptural understanding of the life God requires us to live. Popular opinion promotes the theory that whatever makes an individual feel good about themselves is a good thing. However, the Apostle Paul, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit writes this exhortation to God's people in 1 Cor 5:12,13 "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you!" Again in Romans 16:17, he states the following: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." Those who propagate heresy must be closely observed and avoided, not to be unkind to them, but for the sake of protecting the flock of God from being influenced and infiltrated by their insideous teaching.
In 2 Samuel 16:20-23, we see the youthful Absolom seeking out the counsel of Ahithophel, "heaping to himself a teacher after his own lusts."
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears.(2 Timothy 4:3)
Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, Give counsel among you what we shall do. And Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Go in unto thy father's concubines, which he hath left to keep the house; and all Israel shall hear that thou art abhorred of thy father: then shall the hands of all that are with thee be strong. So they spread Absalom a tent upon the top of the house; and Absalom went in unto his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel. And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field. And He said, The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.(Matthew 13:36-43).
BEWARE THE COUNSEL OF THE BETRAYER
AHITHOPHEL (Heb. for "brother of foolishness," i.e. foolish!) was a man of Judah whose son was a member of David's bodyguard. He became a treacherous friend and adviser to David, acting in the priviledged position as the king's own counsellor. Was the father of Eliam, one of David's "mighty men" and numbered among the "thirty" (II Samuel 23:34); possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba (II Samuel 11:3); which might help explain his defection to Absalom.
He joined Absalom in revolt, and advised him like the oracle of God (2 Samuel xvi, 20-23). Ahithophel's ambition stemmed in part from a covetous heart, or he would not have tempted Absolom with sexual sin of his father's concubine. As an Israelite, he knew the 10 Commandments, which state:
"You shall not covet (Hebrew: hamad) your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's." (Exodus 20:17)
A clever strategist, Ahithophel, knew a thing or two about strongholds, and how to make them the most effective! He was willing to assault his King's own marriage relationship! And he didn't fear utilizing the power of temptation toward immorality, to place an individual in the very position that he wished to gain. One piece of Ahithophel's advice that Absalom did take was to lie with David's concubines (II Samuel 16:21), an act which fulfilled Nathan's prophecy (II Samuel 12:11-12) and in effect meant that Absalom was assuming the throne (II Samuel 3:7). Scripture teaches: "But sexual immorality and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no sexually immoral or unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God."
PRIDE GOES BEFORE A FALL
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:5-11).
The immediate pursuit of David was then suggested, as Ahithophel advised the young son of David in how to best betray his own family member. This advice was quickly accepted, and the subsequent events show that the king, being fore-warned, fled across the Jordan River. (2 Sam. xvi. 20-23, xvii. 1-4, 22).
Absolom must have already had in his possession an extremely large army, since Ahithophel's suggestion to Absolom was that he call out 12,000 men, then he said: I will arise and pursue David this night. And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak handed and will make him afraid. And all the people with him shall flee. And I will smite the king only, and bring back all the people to thee. And the saying pleased Absolom, who wanted to usurp the throne of David, but needed the people allied under him in peace, and not war! (1 Samuel 17)
He was possibly the grandfather of Bathsheba (see 2 Sam. xi. 3, xxiii. 34), a view which has been thought to have some bearing on his policy. He was one of David's most trusted advisers, and his counsel was "as though one inquired of the word of God." At age 56, no man could out fight David, and this carried great weight with these men. Absolom however, saw himself as better suited to reign in his father's stead. What he lacked in experience, he would surely make up for in looks and popularity!
ESCAPE OUT OF THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER
For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
When the Prophet Samuel selected David from among the sons of Jesse, he did so by the word of the Lord. It was no accident that David was chosen and not another man. This was no contest of personalities! David was first of all a worshipper, a prophet and an intercessor.
Immediately after learning of his own betrayal by Ahithophel, fled into eastern Jordanic territory, accompanied by the faithful Cherethites and Pelethites who probably formed a portion of David's followers in the old days of Ziklag. The offer of Zadok and Abiathar to accompany him with the ark was declained and Itushai the Archite was directed to remain at Jerusalem.
A decisive battle was fought at the "wood of Ephraim." David arranged his soldiers in 3 divisions commanded by Joab, Abishai and Ittai the Gittite. To each general, David gave the charge to deal gently, for his own sake with his son Absolom. Absolom hurried by a mule under an oak, became entangled by his luxurient hair, and haanging thus trapped was killed by one of the royal generals. David lamented: O my son Absolom, my son, my son, my son Absolom! Would God that I had died for thee O Absolom my son! At the hearing of which, David's general Joab pointed out the need for David to consider his men as well as his son, causing David to temporarily stiffle his emotions for a time. He thanked his troops for their gallent service in the field of battle.
Ahithophel's defection had been a severe blow to the king, who prayed that God would bring his counsel to "foolishness." David sent his old friend Hushai back to Absalom, in order that he might counteract the counsel of Ahithophel (2 Sam. 15:31-37). Absalom listened to Hushai's words, choosing to adapt the concept to delay and take more cautious measures. When Ahithophel realized that he no longer had any influence, he at once left Absalom's camp, returning to Giloh, his native place, where, after arranging his wordly affairs, he hanged himself, and was buried in the grave of his fathers (2 Sam. 17:1-23). The two sons of Zadock and Abiathar were dispatched with intelligence to David with the news of what transpired at Jerusalem. The young men were pursued narrowly, and escaping capture, evaded their pursuers by strategem and reached David who that same night with his company passed over Jordan.
Ahithophel was the Judas of the Old Testament in that he betrayed his own friend, David. His evil counsel also betrayed Absolom, in that he proved himself an evil counsellor of the young prince. (Ps. 41:9).