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Remember what is at stake in preserving David here. He is on the run and vulnerable to being wiped out by the forces now united under the leadership of Absalom. But the Providence of God intervenes such that the normal strategy of pursue and annihilate is delayed to the point that David is able to refresh and strengthen his troops in preparation for battle.


– Promise of God – 2 Samuel 7

– Birth of Solomon – 2 Samuel 12:24-25

– Prayer of David – 2 Samuel 15:31

– Key Verse: Proverbs 21:1 [Apple family illustration]



A. (:1) Strategic Strike Force Can Move Quickly

“Furthermore, Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘Please let me choose 12,000 men that I may arise and pursue David tonight.’”

B. (:2) Surprise Attack Will Isolate David for the Kill

“And I will come upon him while he is weary and exhausted and will terrify him so that all the people who are with him will flee. Then I will strike down the king alone,”

This approach will save much needless bloodshed; there will be no appetite or opportunity for a prolonged civil war; By killing David before he has a chance to regroup and prepare his defenses the battle will be over before it starts.

C. (:3) Slaying David Will Unify the Nation Under Leadership of Absalom

“and I will bring back all the people to you. The return of everyone depends on the man you seek; then all the people shall be at peace.”

It is not as if the peace of the land is a high priority for the rebel who has mounted this coup against the king and his loyal followers.

D. (:4) Shrewd Counsel Well Received

“So the plan pleased Absalom and all the elders of Israel.”

It is only the Providence of God that could frustrate such a logical and strategic plan put forth by a counselor who was viewed as speaking words on a par with God. No problem for Absalom killing God’s Anointed = his very father.

Study Psalm 2


Illustration: What happens to your prayers? Cf. helium balloons going up in the air

A. (:5-6) Opportunity for Hushai to Mislead Absalom

“Then Absalom said, ‘Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.’ When Hushai had come to Absalom, Absalom said to him, ‘Ahithophel has spoken thus. Shall we carry out his plan? If not, you speak.’”

Usually it is wise to seek alternate opinions and weigh the value of different counsel. But sometimes in the multitude of counselors there is found much error! Once the correct counsel has been received it can be dangerous to entertain other options. (cf. how some Christians search out counsel that is appealing to them.) This was a unique case where God was at work to confuse the minds and work out His providential plan.

Hushai had worked his way into Absalom’s good graces for just such a time as this.

B. (:7) Negative Assessment of Ahithophel’s Plan

“So Hushai said to Absalom, ‘This time the advice that Ahithophel has given is not good.’”

Not speaking against Ahithophel in general … just “this time”

Tricky deal since no one was accustomed to speak against wisdom of Ahithophel.

C. (:8-10) Scare Tactics Based on Reputation of David and His Valiant Men

1. Overstating the Danger

“Moreover, Hushai said, ‘You know your father and his men, that they are mighty men and they are fierce, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field.’”

2. Possibility of a Counter Trap

“And your father is an expert in warfare, and will not spend the night with the people. Behold, he has now hidden himself in one of the caves or in another place; and it will be when he falls on them at the first attack, that whoever hears it will say, There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.”

3. Fighting Reputation of David and His Men

“And even the one who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will completely lose heart; for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man and those who are with him are valiant men.”

D. (:11-13) Appeal to Superior Numbers and Vanity of Absalom

1. (:11a) Wait for United Front of Superior Numbers

“But I counsel that all Israel be surely gathered to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea in abundance”

2. (:11b) Wait for Absalom to Personally Lead Troops into Battle

“and that you personally go into battle”

3. (:12) Anticipation of Complete Slaughter

“So we shall come to him in one of the places where he can be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground; and of him and of all the men who are with him, not even one will be left.”

4. (:13) No Possibility of David Finding Safe Refuge

“And if he withdraws into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it into the valley until not even a small stone is found there.”

Deffinbaugh: We might be inclined to minimize the difficulty of Hushai’s task, as though Absalom and the elders of Israel must embrace Hushai’s counsel no matter how foolish it might be. We are therefore inclined to think of Hushai’s counsel as groundless and foolish, but accepted by Absalom and his servants because their eyes are blinded to the truth of the matter.

I would like to suggest that Hushai is given great wisdom by God, and that his plan makes perfect sense, when viewed from Absalom’s point of view. . .

Hushai challenges the assumptions on which Ahithophel’s plans are based, and thus the plans as well. He proposes a very different David, and thus a very different plan. Hushai insists that Ahithophel has dangerously underestimated David and his ability to defend himself and his kingdom. Hushai reminds Absalom and the elders of Israel about the kind of man David is. David is no mental weakling; he is a tough and seasoned warrior. Absalom’s rebellion will not break David’s spirit; it will antagonize him. He will be like a she-bear, deprived of her cubs. David will be fighting mad and fighting ready. If Ahithophel comes into the wilderness to attack David, they will fight him on his turf. After all, David has spent years hiding from Saul in the wilderness. Does Ahithophel really think David can easily be found sitting among the rest of the people? He will be hiding out, and when Ahithophel and his small army arrive, David will pounce on them, giving them a humiliating defeat. It will be Absalom’s soldiers who will lose heart and run, not David or his men.

E. (:14) Providence of God Working Behind the Scenes

“Then Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had ordained to thwart the good counsel of Ahithophel, in order that the Lord might bring calamity on Absalom.”

When we say “God is for us” – this is what we mean – all of those occasions where God is working behind the scenes to engineer a good outcome for us


A. (:15-16) Urgent Instructions to the Priests for David

“Then Hushai said to Zadok and to Abiathar the priests, ‘This is what Ahithophel counseled Absalom and the elders of Israel, and this is what I have counseled. Now therefore, send quickly and tell David, saying, Do not spend the night at the fords of the wilderness, but by all means cross over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be destroyed.’”

Providence of God at work; but much dangerous activity involved on the part of David’s friends as well

B. (:17) Usual Intelligence Channels to Relay Messages to David

“Now Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at Enrogel, and a maidservant would go and tell them, and they would go and tell King David, for they could not be seen entering the city.”

C. (:18-20) Undercover Tactics — Narrow Escape

1. (:18a) Dangerous Exposure

“But a lad did see them, and told Absalom”

2. (:18b) Desperate Evasion

“so the two of them departed quickly and came to the house of a man in Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard, and they went down into it”

3. (:19) Designed Camouflage

“And the woman took a covering and spread it over the well’s mouth and scattered grain on it, so that nothing was known.”

4. (:20) Daring Misdirection

“Then Absalom’s servants came to the woman at the house and said, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’ And the woman said to them, ‘They have crossed the brook of water.’ And when they searched and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.”

D. (:21-22) Delivering the Message

1. (:21) Urgent Call to Action

“And it came about after they had departed that they came up out of the well and went and told King David; and they said to David, ‘Arise and cross over the water quickly for thus Ahithophel has counseled against you.’”

2. (:22) Quick Response by David

“Then David and all the people who were with him arose and crossed the Jordan; and by dawn not even one remained who had not crossed the Jordan.”


A. Perception of His Fate

“Now when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed”

B. Preparations for His Death

“ he saddled his donkey and arose and went to his home, to his city, and set his house in order,”

C. Performance of the Deed

“and strangled himself; thus he died and was buried in the grave of his father.”

Blaikie: The character of Ahithophel was a singular combination. To deep natural sagacity he united great spiritual blindness and lack of true manliness. He saw at once the danger to the cause of Absalom in the plan that had been preferred to his own; but it was not that consideration, it was the gross affront to himself that preyed on him, and drove him to commit suicide. . . In his own way he was as much the victim of vanity as Absalom. The one was vain of his person, the other of his wisdom. In each case it was the man’s vanity that was the cause of his death.


A. (:24a) Mobilization of David’s Forces

“Then David came to Mahanaim.”

Deffinbaugh: This is indeed a city with a history. It was Jacob who gave this city its name. As he was returning to the land of promise, fearful of what would happen when he met his brother Esau, Jacob was met by angels, prompting Jacob to say, “This is God’s camp.” And so it was that Jacob named that place Mahanaim (meaning “two camps”.)

B. (:24b-26) Mobilization of Absalom’s Forces

“And Absalom crossed the Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him. And Absalom set Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Now Amasa was the son of a man whose name was Ithra the Israelite, who went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab’s mother. And Israel and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.”

C. (:27-29) Munchies and Supplies For David’s Hungry, Weary Troops

“Now when David had come to Mahanaim, Shobi the son of Nahash from Rabbah of the sons of Ammon, Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim, brought beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans, lentils, parched seeds, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, ‘The people are hungry and wear and thirsty in the wilderness.’”

Pink: There is something striking and touching in connection with each of the three men mentioned here, who brought such a lavish present to David. “Shobi was the brother of him, concerning whom David had said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash” (10:2) so, with the measure he had meted out to this Gentile, it is measured to him again. Ah, has not God promised that he who watereth others, shall himself be watered! “Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar” was the man who had given shelter to Mephibosheth (9:5): the king had relieved him of this trust by giving Mephibosheth a place at his own table (9:11), and now Machir shows his gratitude by providing for David’s table. Concerning “Barzillai” we read that he was “a very aged man, even four score years old” (19:22), yet he was not too aged to minister now unto David’s needs. He will come before us again in the sequel.