2 Samuel 17:7
And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.
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(7) Not good at this time.—The words, at this time, should be transposed. What Hushai says is “This time the counsel of Ahithophel is not good,” implying that his previous advice (2Samuel 16:21) had been wise, thus assuming an appearance of candour.

2 Samuel 17:7-8. The counsel of Ahithophel is not good at this time — Though he generally gives most wise and admirable counsel, yet he seems now to be under a mistake, and not sufficiently to consider all the present circumstances of this business. Thou knowest thy father and his men — Hushai, setting himself to oppose all the articles of Ahithophel’s advice, some openly, and others covertly, begins with giving a lively and dreadful description of the enemies Absalom had to deal with. That they be all mighty men — Of approved courage and strength, and not so easily vanquished as Ahithophel supposes. At all times they are terrible to the bravest foes, but much more so at this time; when they are chafed in their minds — Hebrew, bitter of soul, inflamed with rage; desperate, and therefore resolved to sell their lives at a dear rate. Being driven from their families, they are as so many enraged bears robbed of their whelps in the field — In the first furious efforts of their rage they will not fail to strike a terror into their assailants, and the panic will be easily diffused through the rest of the pursuing army, and will intimidate the bravest of them. Thy father is a man of war — A wise as well as brave prince and general, who, knowing of what importance it is to secure his person, and that your chief design is against his life, will, doubtless, use extraordinary care to keep out of your reach, which he may easily do.

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.At this time - Rather, "The counsel which Ahithophel has given this time is not good." He contrasts it with that given before 2 Samuel 16:21, which was good. This gave an appearance of candour to his conduct, and so gave weight to his dissent. Observe the working of David's prayer 2 Samuel 15:31. 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.

Though at other times he generally gives most wise and admirable counsel; yet, as he is a man, he seems now to be under a mistake, and not sufficiently to consider all the present circumstances of this business.

And Hushai said to Absalom,.... Having leave to give his opinion freely:

the counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time; he owns that Ahithophel was a good counsellor, and that the counsel he gave was for the most part, if not always, good, but what he gave at this time was not so; the wisest of men may sometimes be mistaken. Abarbinel thinks he respects his former counsel, particularly that that was good, advising him to defile his father's bed, 2 Samuel 16:21; but this was not, for which he gives the following reasons.

And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not {c} good at this time.

(c) Hushai shows himself faithful to David, in that he reproves this wicked counsel and purpose.

7. The counsel, &c.] The counsel which Ahithophel hath counselled this time is not good: in contrast to his previous counsel (ch. 2 Samuel 16:21), which Hushai pretends to approve.

Verse 7. - And Hushai said. Hushai gives his advice with much Oriental exaggeration, such as ought to have put Absalom on his guard. His main points are that David was too practised a soldier to let himself be surprised. In his adventures with Saul he and his men had been trained to hold large bodies of pursuers at bay, and evade them. The men, too, who were with him were warriors of desperate valour, whose first thought would be the king's personal safety, and to ensure this they would conceal him in some pit, some cave or ravine, safe and inaccessible by nature; or in some place (omit the inserted word "other"), that is, in some camping place, made strong with ramparts, so as to resist the first attack. "To smite the king only" is, therefore, an impossibility; and if the attack fail, and David's mighties, in their irritation, slaughter a large number of their assailants, and a panic be the result, men will hesitate before they attack such redoubtable champions a second time. A check is fatal to a rebellion, and Absalom, was staking his chance on one hasty encounter. Better leave the decision to all Israel. Their hearts were with Absalom, and, when there has been time for them to gather in their thousands, success is certain. Their numbers will be countless as the sands on the shore, or as the dew upon the grass; while David and his heroes will shrink to so small a body as to be scarcely able to man the walls of one small city. And fighting there will be none; for the myriads of Israel will drag city and fugitives with ropes down into the nearest torrent bed, where the next floods will wash all away. There was more in this than an appeal to Absalom's vanity. If all Israel did take his side, then David's cause would soon be hopeless, and there would be no need of parricide. David's death would be the act of Israel, and not of Absalom. Evidently Absalom believed that all Israel was on his side, and his success hitherto had been so rapid as almost to justify the assumption. To us this success is almost unaccountable, but it suggests that there were great faults in David's administration. Yet even so we wonder at the existence of such general dissatisfaction. At this time. A wrong translation. The Hebrew is, Ahithophel's counsel this time is not good, whereas last time, what he advised about the concubines was good. 2 Samuel 17:7In answer to Absalom's inquiry, "Shall we do his word (i.e., follow Ahithophel's advice) or not?" Hushai said, "The advice is not good that Ahithophel hath given this time;" and then still further explained (2 Samuel 17:8): "Thou knowest thy father and his men, that they are heroes, and of a ferocious disposition (like Judges 18:25), like a bear in the field robbed of her young; and thy father is a man of war, and will not pass the night with the people," sc., so that it would be possible to come upon him unawares and slay him (לין with את, as in Job 19:4). The idea that ילין is to be taken as a Hiphil, in the sense of "and does not let the people lodge for the night" (Bttcher), is quite untenable, since it does not tally with 2 Samuel 17:9, "Behold, he is hid now in one of the pits, or one of the places (פּחתים are hiding-places that are strong by nature, מקומת are places rendered strong by art); and it comes to pass that he falls upon them at the first: so will men hear it, and say a defeat has taken place among the people that follow Absalom." נפל with בּ, as in Joshua 11:7, to fall upon a person. The subject to נפל is David, but it is not mentioned as being evident enough from the context; so that there is no necessity for the emendation נפלו, which Thenius proposes. The suffix בּהם relates to those making the attack, the hosts of Absalom. Thenius has given the meaning correctly: "The report that David has made an attack will be sufficient to give rise to the belief that our men have sustained a severe defeat."
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