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2 Samuel 17:1-14 -


The council chamber of Absalom.

"And Jehovah had appointed," etc. ( 2 Samuel 17:14 ). The success of the rebellion seemed well nigh complete. Absalom occupied the capital; was proclaimed by "all Israel;" supported by the wisest statesman, and, apparently, by "the king's friend" and the high priests; held his council ( 2 Samuel 16:20 ); and took possession of the harem, "the first decided act of sovereignty" (subsequently he was also solemnly anointed, 2 Samuel 19:10 , probably by Zadok and Abiathar). "Absalom's next step was to endeavour his father's destruction, in the conviction that his own throne would never be secure so long as he lived. The son had no relentings. He had knowingly subjected himself to the inevitable necessity of taking his father's life, and he only desired to learn how that object might be most effectually secured. A council was held on this question, and it is the first cabinet council to which history admits us. It was doubtless conducted in the same form as other royal councils; and, from the instance before us, it appears that the members who had anything to suggest, or rather such as the king called upon for their opinion, described the course they thought best suited to the circumstances" (Kitto, 'Daily Bible Illust.'). It was the turning point of the revolt ( Psalms 92:7-9 ); and in it we see—

I. A RENOWNED COUNSELLOR urging promptitude with oracular wisdom. "And Ahithophel said," etc. ( 2 Samuel 17:1-5 ; 2 Samuel 15:31 ); " this night" ( 2 Samuel 16:14 ; 2 Samuel 16:2 , 2 Samuel 16:16 ); instant action being, in his view, necessary to the accomplishment of the death of David and the success of the revolution. His counsel was the result of an unerring judgment, expressed with the utmost confidence, and thoroughly adapted ( 2 Samuel 17:14 , "good counsel") to effect its end. It was worthy of his great reputation. Extraordinary human wisdom is sometimes:

1 . Employed against the servants of God and against his kingdom, of which they are the most conspicuous representatives. "This wisdom descendeth not from above," etc. ( James 3:15 ).

2 . Stimulated, in its exercise, by personal hatred toward them. "I will smite the king only" (perhaps exulting in the prospect of inflicting vengeance with his own hand).

3 . Fraught with deadly peril to them ( 2 Samuel 17:4 ). David himself, as he came "wearied and weak handed" to the plain of the Jordan and rested there, knew not yet his imminent danger and "marvellous escape" ( 1 Samuel 23:24-28 ). "But a higher power than the wisdom of the renowned Gilonite guided events." The Lord is the Defence of his people; and his promise concerning his Church is that "the gates (counsels) of Hades shall not prevail against it."

II. A RIVAL ORATOR advising delay with plausible arguments. "And Hushai said," etc. ( 2 Samuel 17:7-13 ). "He was not a member of the council; but he had been well received by Absalom, whose greater treachery against his father made him give ready credence to the pretended treachery of his father's friend. It was at Absalom's suggestion that he was called in, and, being informed of the course Ahithophel had advised, he saw at once the danger that this course threatened to David; and, in fulfilment of his mission to defeat this man's counsel, he advanced divers reasons against it, all tending to delay" (Kitto). "It would not only ward off David's present danger, but would also, as Tacitus observes, give ill men time to repent, and the good to unite" (Delany). His counsel was the result of a profound acquaintance with human nature, and given with a persuasive eloquence equal to his wisdom. Advice favourable to God's servants:

1 . Is often given in unlikely places, among their adversaries and by persons unsuspected of sympathy with them ( Acts 5:38 ).

2 . Derives its power from the selfish dispositions of the ungodly themselves: their fears ( 2 Samuel 17:8-10 ) and their vainglory ( 2 Samuel 17:11-14 ). Hushai's speech was "full of a certain kind of boasting which pleased the younger men" (Clericus).

3 . Succeeds far beyond what might have been naturally expected, in making wisdom appear foolishness ( 2 Samuel 17:4 , 2 Samuel 17:14 ).

"His tongue

Dropp'd manna, and could make the worse appear

The better reason, to perplex and dash

Maturest counsels."


III. AN INFATUATED USURPER adopting a policy fatal to his own designs. His decision was the result of:

1 . His misjudgment of the effect of delay upon the nation; for he did not consider that "only the discontented part of the people formed the kernel of the insurrection, that no small portion still remained true to David, and that another part, now for the moment fallen away, would return after the first fit of revolution had passed" (Erdmann).

2 . His over confidence in his power and success.

3 . His love of personal display (his ruling passion). "The new made king gave the preference to a proposal which promised him, at any rate for a few days, the enjoyment of complete repose and the gratifications of his high position" (Ewald).

4 . But herein the sacred historian indicates (what so often appears in the Books of Samuel) the overruling providence of God ( 1 Samuel 2:1-10 ; 1 Samuel 9:1-25 ; 1 Samuel 31:7-10 ; 2 Samuel 1:19 ) which:

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