2 Samuel 16:23
And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counceled in those days, was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.
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2 Samuel 16:23. The counsel of Ahithophel, &c. — It was deemed as unerring, and was commonly followed with as little doubt of its success, as though the oracle of God had dictated it. This is mentioned as the reason why counsel, which carried so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation. 16:15-23 The wisest counsellors of that age were Ahithophel and Hushai: Absalom thinks himself sure of success, when he has both; on them he relies, and consults not the ark, though he had that with him. But miserable counsellors were they both. Hushai would never counsel him to do wisely. Ahithophel counselled him to do wickedly; and so did as effectually betray him, as he did, who was designedly false to him: for they that advise men to sin, certainly advise them to their hurt. After all, honesty is the best policy, and will be found so in the long run. Ahithophel gave wicked counsel to Absalom; to render himself so hateful to his father, that he would never be reconciled to him; this cursed policy was of the devil. How desperately wicked is the human heart!Taking possession of the harem was the most decided act of sovereignty (see 1 Kings 2:22). It was also the greatest offence and insult that could be offered. Such an act on Absalom's part made reconciliation impossible. A further motive has been found in this advice, namely, the desire on the part of Ahithophel to make David taste the bitterness of that cup which he had caused others (Uriah and all Bath-sheba's family) to drink, and receive the measure which he had meted withal. 21. Ahithophel said unto Absalom—This councillor saw that now the die was cast; half measures would be inexpedient. To cut off all possibility of reconciliation between the king and his rebellious son, he gave this atrocious advice regarding the treatment of the royal women who had been left in charge of the palace. Women, being held sacred, are generally left inviolate in the casualties of war. The history of the East affords only one parallel to this infamous outrage of Absalom. Was as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God; it was received by the people with equal authority and veneration, and was usually attended with as certain success; which is mentioned as the reason why a counsel which had so ill a face, should meet with such general approbation.

With David; to whose pious disposition he accommodated himself, as policy obliged him; but being weary of it, he takes this first occasion to discover himself, and execute that wickedness which before lay in his heart. And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he had counselled in those days,.... Both in the days of David, and in the days of Absalom, before and since the rebellion:

was as if a man had inquired of the oracle of God; such an opinion was entertained of it, so well satisfied were they with it, and as confident of success in taking it, as if the Lord himself had been consulted by Urim and Thummim; this is a very great exaggeration of Ahithophel's counsel, and is observed as a reason why it was so readily taken, though so bad in the preceding instance:

so was all the counsel of Ahithophel, both with David and with Absalom; Ahithophel was a crafty man, a time server, that temporized with princes, and knew how to suit his counsels with their tempers and interests: to David he gave good counsel, what was acceptable with him, and to Absalom bad counsel, which was pleasing to him.

And the counsel of Ahithophel, which he counselled in those days, was as if a man had {l} enquired at the oracle of God: so was all the counsel of Ahithophel both with David and with Absalom.

(l) It was so esteemed for the success of it.

23. had inquired at the oracle of God] Lit. had inquired of the word of God = had inquired of God, which was done by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate upon the High-priest’s ephod. Cp. 1 Samuel 10:22.Verse 23. - The counsel of Ahithophel, etc. These words form a sort of apology for Absalom. He ought to have had more respect for his father than to offer him so grievous an insult, and aggravate by so terrible a deed the quarrel between them. But his conduct from first to last was utterly mean and selfish, and his only excuse here is that there was such a glamour round Ahithophel, that men yielded up their own judgment to him without an effort, and did what he advised as if it had a religious sanction. At the oracle of God; Hebrew, had asked the Word of God; that is, had consulted God by Urim and Thummim. When a man went to the priest to inquire in this way, he did whatever he was told; and the word of Ahithophel was accepted with equal deference.

Absalom, apparently astonished at this, said to him, "Is this thy love to thy friend (David)? why wentest thou not with thy friend?" But Hushai replied, "No; but whom Jehovah hath chosen, and this people (i.e., the people who had entered Jerusalem with Absalom), and all the men of Israel (i.e., the whole nation), to him (לא for לו, Keri) will I belong, and will remain with him. And again, whom should I serve? Is it not before his son? As I have served thy father, so will I be before thee" (i.e., serve thee). With great craftiness, Hushai declared at the very outset that Jehovah had chosen Absalom - at least he could not come to any other conclusion, judging from the results. And under such circumstances he could not have any doubt as to whom it was his duty to serve. As he had formerly served the father, so now he would serve his son Absalom. In this way he succeeded in completely deceiving Absalom, so that he placed unbounded confidence in him.
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