A great amount of military strategy is trying to get into the enemy's head and predict his next move. This is probably why I never enjoyed the game Risk. I have never been a very strategic person. Most men love that game. In college, a few people tried to teach me how to play, but gave up after the first five minutes. I was hopelessly clueless. My logic and reasoning skills have only kicked in since being an adult--at least I would like to think I have some now.
This whole passage is Absalom's determining what his father might do next. Everyone understands that Absalom is staking his claim as king. He made it quite clear at the end of the last chapter when before all of Israel, he treats King David's concubines as his own. So what next? Absalom knows he needs to secure his kingdom. He knows that there will always be those loyal to his father unless his father is dead. He needs to know how best to achieve that objective. The advice from Ahithophel is to take some troops out to pursue David. He will kill David himself, and all of David's followers will somehow come following him back to the palace, Pied-Piper-of-Hamlin style. That is not exactly the picture Ahithophel paints, but pretty close. Of course, the hero in this little narrative would be Ahithophel. Absalom would have sat around the palace waiting for his return, cheering his general's wise military genius. This is the cartoon dream bubble I see above Ahithophel's head.
Surprisingly, although Absalom thinks it is a brilliant plan, he wants to hear another choice. He summons Hushai, who he doesn't realize is working as a double agent for David. This is because Hushai understood that the way to Absalom's heart was to appeal to his pride. He does this at the end of the last chapter, when asked wasn't he one of David's men, by saying, "Nay; but whom the LORD, and this people, and all the men of Israel, choose, his will I be, and with him will I abide." He uses the same technique in this passage. When asked how they should go after David, Hushai shoots down Ahithophel's idea. He reminds Absalom that his father is a valiant warrior, and that his men are too. Wouldn't it be better if brawny, strapping, mighty Absalom should go after his father himself? In one respect, Hushai is taunting Absalom by touting his father's military abilities, and in the other respect is suggesting that Absalom is the only one who could defeat him. Hushai has a real understanding of his enemy, and uses the wisest method to gain the upper hand. The rest of Absalom's counselors agree, and don't they kind of have to, because otherwise they are telling Absalom that Ahithophel would be far better suited to battle the enemy, that he would be a much better match for David. These guys are not dummies. They know that you don't tell your new king he is not strong enough to take down his father.
|Young Knight, the Armor of God--Taken from Standard Bible Story Readers, Book Four|
By Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.A. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleaveland
Standard Publishing Company, 1927
"And 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 appointed to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, to the intent that the LORD might bring evil upon Absalom."
Is the second sentence something the counselors said? Or is it what God wrote to explain why Hushai's advice was taken over Ahithophel's? Was it the counselors saying that they thought God preferred Hushai's advice over Ahithophel's because the latter would bring harm to Absalom? Or is God telling us He persuaded these counselors so that He could bring evil upon Absalom? It might seem like a small detail, but if you read it all together, it just sounds like the counselors are reasoning this together. When I take a second look, it almost seems this is not a quotation, but God explaining that the reason those counselors took hold of Hushai's plan was His exact design. If this is the case, and I am persuaded that it is, Absalom is doomed. No military strategy he develops is going to win him this war. God is working behind the scenes. He is giving Hushai the wisdom to sway Absalom, he is putting foolish words into Ahithophel's mouth (which is exactly what David prayed for in Chapter 15). It really doesn't matter what Absalom decides, because if God is against him, he will not succeed.
Things do start to fall apart. Hushai has already sent word to David about Absalom's plans, the surrounding countries are supplying David and his men with food, and Ahithophel commits suicide after his humiliating rejection. Absalom can not yet see that his time on the throne will be very short-lived.
I think that if I ever got to the place in my life where God had to bring evil upon me, I would be devastated. And it could happen so easily. If I start by taking little steps away from Him, maybe skipping my Bible reading a day or two, perhaps forgetting to pray here or there, finding excuses to not be in His House (or grabbing hold of excuses the devil hands me) I can drift farther and farther away from God. If I were to let down my guard with things I watch, what I listen to, places I go, I could slip out of His service and onto His watchlist. I don't ever want to be aiding the Enemy. I don't ever want to cultivate negative things in my life that might cause Him to eliminate me. Oh, I'm not worried about my Home in Heaven. That was secured long ago, and had nothing to do with me, but my fellowship with God could be easily compromised if I slowly start to aid the other side. This is why I need to be a strategist, myself. I always need to anticipate Satan's next move to bring me down. He is always trying. He would like nothing better than to recruit someone to work for his team. And as tempting as he tries to make his recruitment package sound, that is a move that is way too risky.