Useful Bible Studies > 2 Samuel Commentary > chapter 17


2 Samuel 17:23

It is very sad whenever anyone chooses death instead of life. God alone gives life, and it is a truly precious gift.

Ahithophel was famous for his wisdom; but his decision to kill himself was the result of a long series of unwise decisions. However, he would have probably described it as a matter of shame and honour. It was his strong opinions about shame and honour that caused him to make those wrong decisions. He was too proud about his family’s honour to forgive the person who had brought shame upon his family. It became his only desire to bring shame and then death to that person. When that plan failed, Ahithophel killed himself.

The person whose wrong deeds had upset Ahithophel so much was King David. Ahithophel’s son was Eliam, one of the most famous soldiers in Israel (23:34). Eliam arranged an honourable marriage for his own daughter, Bathsheba, to another famous soldier, Uriah (11:3). However, David wanted Bathsheba for himself, and he carried out a series of evil acts to get her (2 Samuel chapter 11).

Later, David turned back to God and God forgave him (12:13). However, Ahithophel was completely unwilling to forgive David. Instead, it seems that he allowed his bitter attitudes to develop into complete hate for David. That was why Ahithophel supported Absalom. In 2 Samuel 16:20-22, he used Absalom’s desire for power in order to bring shame on David. Then, he made a plan to kill David (17:1-4)

However, Hushai had shown that Ahithophel’s plan to kill David alone could not succeed. Many other people would die if Absalom tried to defeat David (17:7-13). Among them would probably be members of Ahithophel’s own family: Bathsheba remained loyal to David, and perhaps her father Eliam did too.

Ahithophel saw that Absalom was unwilling to follow his plan. Perhaps Ahithophel felt ashamed that he had ever chosen to support this proud and selfish young man. Ahithophel did not believe that Absalom, without any military experience, could defeat David in war. So, Ahithophel did not wait to see what would happen. Instead, he went home – for the last time. In his final actions, he followed one of the same kind of careful plans that he had made through his whole life.

Next part: Two camps at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:24-26)


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© 2023, Keith Simons.