Ahithophel’s Role in Absalom’s Rebellion
February 22, 2034
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
The following is excerpted from John Phillips Exploring the Book, commentary on Psalm 64.

Ahithophel watched this with cautious opportunism. Although he was David’s most trusted friend and counselor, he nurtured a secret hatred against David. The cause is not hard to find: Ahithophel was Bathsheba’s grandfather. He never forgave David for his sin. God could forgive him, but he never would. Moreover, in the growing strength of Absalom, Ahithophel saw a golden opportunity for revenge. Ahithophel, an astute statesman regarded by David as the cleverest man in the kingdom, kept in secret touch with Absalom. When the time was ripe, he threw off all pretense, went over heart and soul to the rebellion, and gave it the national stature and prestige it needed to succeed. It was what David calls in this verse "the insurrection of the workers of iniquity."

David was afraid of their malice. He knew, now that the mask was off, how distorted with resentment, rage, and rancor Ahithophel really was. He also knew what he was up against. Ahithophel was an able man. For him to side with Absalom gave the rebellion enormous advantage, for when Ahithophel spoke he spoke with authority. Ahithophel had a national reputation for speaking as the very oracle of God.

Picture an amateur playing chess. He is not doing well, his opponent outwits him every time. He has already lost a knight, a couple of bishops, and a rook, and now his queen is in danger. A few more moves and the king will be lost. Along comes a chess master. He sits down alongside the amateur and sizes up the board. "Move that piece," he says. "Now then, move this one." It is immediately evident mat a master mind is at work. What had been a losing game now becomes a winning one.

It was long odds for Absalom to take on David. But when Ahithophel came over to his side, that changed the game. David had profited from Ahithophel’s counsel often enough to know what he was up against now: the keenest mind in the kingdom, a mind sharpened now by malice and hatred. No wonder David prayed as he did. ...

Forgotten were David’s greatness, his gifts, and his government. Forgotten was the fact that he had made Israel great, defeated her foes, and made her a world power. Forgotten were his statesmanship, his justice, his magnificent sense of fair play. Forgotten was his selfless zeal for the things of God, for the well-being of his subjects, for the glory of Israel. Remembered only was his tragic sin. Well might the poet write:

I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another’s fame.

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