Have you heard fo the saying, “Blood is thicker than water”? This truism reminds us that relationships within the family and their loyalties are generally stronger than those outside the family.
I could not help but think of that saying when I was contemplating an event in the life of David. The situation I am referring to is when his son Absalom tried to overthrow his kingdom with the help of Ahithophel. Notice what it says in 2 Sam. 15:31,
“And it was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
This coup attempt for David’s throne is compounded by the defection of Ahithophel. Ahithophel was the most esteemed advisor that David had. He is described as follows in 2 Sam. 16:23,
“Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.”
Why would David’s most trusted advisor leave him for Absalom? Ahithophel had been David’s right-hand man for years! This just does not seem to make sense! In fact, Ahithophel appears to be more than a casual conspirator because he wants to personally kill David. Notice what it says in the following passage,
“Now Ahithophel urged Absalom, ‘Let me choose 12,000 men to start out after David tonight. I will catch up with him while he is weary and discouraged. He and his troops will panic, and everyone will run away. Then I will kill only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride returns to her husband.’” (2 Sam. 17:1-3)
What is going on? What was driving Ahithophel to pursue this desperate course of action and counsel Absalom to violate the king’s concubines?
Notice the following insight,
“David had illicitly slept with a woman who was not his wife (cf. 11:4), and now his son is counseled to follow in his father’s footsteps.”
It has been proposed by some scholars that Absalom violated the king’s concubines on the very roof that David violated Bathseba! This is more than a coincidence! Ahithophel seems to have revenge on his mind. What motivated Ahithophel?
We do not know much about Ahithophel, but we do find a major clue for his possible conduct in 2 Sam. 23:34. There we learn that he had a son named Eliam.
This observation is very significant because of what we learn in 2 Sam. 11:3,
“He (David) sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’”
Do you see what I see? Ahithophel is the grandfather of Bathsheba! The daughter of his son had a tragic end to her marriage because of David. Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, was killed through the conniving plan of David in his desperate attempt to hide the fact that he was the father of the child that Bathsheba was carrying.
When David had learned that the woman he desired was married and the granddaughter of Ahithophel, his most trusted advisor, he should have come to his senses and abandoned his plans of taking advantage of her. Instead, he forced himself upon her in spite of this information. His decision to sin in this way had tragic consequences for him and many others.
As a result of these observations, it seems very possible that Ahithophel never got over this betrayal by David and he was waiting for his opportunity to get revenge because he had harmed his family. What a tragic story!
Father, thank you for helping us see that sin has disastrous consequences. David, controlled by passion, rationalized away obedience to pursue his selfish pleasure. You graciously let him know two facts 1) Bathsheba was married and 2) she was the granddaughter of his closest advisor. This information should have stopped him cold in his tracks, but tragically it did not. Help me not to be deceived by sin and give me the ability to see my foolishness before I make mistakes like David. Enable me to pursue simple obedience in following you.
Following Jesus with you,
 Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), 2 Sa 16:15.