2 Samuel 17:1
Moreover Ahithophel said to Absalom, Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:
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(1) Pursue after David this night.—Ahithophel saw clearly that Absalom’s success depended on striking an immediate blow. He felt confident, and perhaps with reason, that David in his distress and weariness was in no condition to resist a sudden onset. That he was wise in his counsel is made plain by the opposition of Hushai and the anxiety to send tidings to David with all speed. “This night” is generally taken to mean the night of the day on which David left Jerusalem; but from 2Samuel 17:16 and 2Samuel 15:28 it appears that he was already encamped by the fords of the Jordan, a greater distance than he could have accomplished in one day’s march.

2 Samuel 17:1. I will arise and pursue after David — It seems he was a soldier as well as a counsellor. Or, at least, he thought his counsel so sure of being successful that he offered himself to put it in execution. He was probably afraid, also, that if Absalom should command the men himself, natural affection might prevail with him to spare his father, and not take away his life; or, perhaps, even work an agreement between them, and so leave him in danger of being called to account for his rebellion.17:1-21 Here was a wonderful effect of Divine Providence blinding Absalom's mind and influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, and that he should desire Hushai's advice. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions. Ahithophel's former counsel was followed, for God intended to correct David; but his latter counsel was not followed, for God meant not to destroy him. He can overrule all counsels. Whatever wisdom or help any man employs or affords, the success is from God alone, who will not let his people perish.This night - The night of the day on which David fled, and Absalom entered into Jerusalem. Ahithophel's idea was to fall upon David by surprise, and in the first confusion of the surprised army to seize and kill David only. CHAPTER 17

2Sa 17:1-14. Ahithophel's Counsel Overthrown by Hushai.

1-11. Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom—The recommendation to take prompt and decisive measures before the royalist forces could be collected and arranged, evinced the deep political sagacity of this councillor. The adoption of his advice would have extinguished the cause of David; and it affords a dreadful proof of the extremities to which the heartless prince was, to secure his ambitious objects, prepared to go, that the parricidal counsel "pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel." It was happily overruled, however, by the address of Hushai, who saw the imminent danger to which it would expose the king and the royal cause. He dwelt upon the warlike character and military experience of the old king—represented him and his adherents as mighty men, who would fight with desperation; and who, most probably, secure in some stronghold, would be beyond reach, while the smallest loss of Absalom's men at the outset might be fatal to the success of the conspiracy. But his dexterity was chiefly displayed in that part of his counsel which recommended a general levy throughout the country; and that Absalom should take command of it in person—thereby flattering at once the pride and ambition of the usurper. The bait was caught by the vainglorious and wicked prince.Hushai, David’s friend, being, by David’s order, gone over to Absalom, by God’s appointment overthroweth Ahithophel’s counsel, 2 Samuel 17:1-14. Hushai certifieth David thereof, and adviseth him forthwith to march on, 2 Samuel 17:15-21. David passeth over Jordan, 2 Samuel 17:22. Ahithophel hangeth himself, 2 Samuel 17:23. David cometh to Mahanaim: Absalom passeth over Jordan, making Amasa the captain of his host, 2 Samuel 17:21-26. David is there furnished with provisions by his friends, 2 Samuel 17:27-29.

I am so well assured of the goodness of this counsel, that I will venture my own person and life in execution of it.

Moreover, Ahithophel said unto Absalom,.... Either at the same time, or quickly after he had given the foregoing advice:

let me now choose out twelve thousand men: out of those that were with Absalom, which shows their number to be large; and twelve thousand are pitched upon with respect to the twelve tribes of Israel, a thousand from every tribe; Josephus has only ten thousand:

and I will arise and pursue after David this night; he took upon him to be general of the army, as well as a counsellor; or this he said to show how confident he was of the success of his counsel, that if Absalom, or any other, should decline the conduct of the army upon it, as a hazardous attempt, he would undertake it himself; or rather it may be, he was not willing that Absalom should go out in person with the army, not so much for his own safety, as lest through his affection for the king he should spare him, when he fell into his hands, or they two should be reconciled; he proposed to do it that night, partly for expedition, no time being to be lost, and partly for the greater surprise of David and his men.

Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, {a} Let me now choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue after David this night:

(a) The wicked are so greedy to execute their malice, that they leave no opportunity that may further the same.

Ch. 2 Samuel 17:1-14. Ahithophel’s counsel defeated by Hushai

1. this night] The night following David’s flight and Absalom’s entrance into Jerusalem. Ahithophel’s advice, given no doubt at the council described in ch. 2 Samuel 16:20, was excellent. The success of the rebellion would be ensured by striking a sudden blow, and securing the king’s person. A small body of picked troops might easily have overtaken David, who was not likely to get more than twelve or fifteen miles from Jerusalem the first day.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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