II Samuel Chapter 17
Memory verses for this week:
Eccl 3:1 To every thing there is a
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Eccl 3:2
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a
time to pluck up that which is planted;
Overview of II Samuel 17:
With David in exile, chapter 17 provides the narrative of the
diverse counsel of Ahithophel and Hushai to Absalom. The young
renegade king-to-be is led by Providence to accept the advise of
Hushai. Ahithophel commits suicide.
a type of of the false Messiah, who will gather an army against
Christ who is typified here by David. (Revelation 19:19).
I. The Diverse Counsel of Ahitophel and Hushai
2 Sam 17:1 Moreover Ahithophel said unto Absalom, Let me now
choose out twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue
after David this night:
2 Sam 17:2 And I will come upon him while he is weary and weak
handed, and will make him afraid: and all the people that are
with him shall flee; and I will smite the king only:
2 Sam 17:3 And I will bring back all the people unto thee: the
man whom thou seekest is as if all returned: so all the people
shall be in peace.
2 Sam 17:4 And the
saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel.
Ahithophel had made himself important in Absalomís cabinet.
The last verse of chapter 16 notes that he was esteemed as if he
were the word of God by Absalom and his party. Ahithophel
came up with further advice for Absalom. His plan was
simple. Strike while the iron was hot. He tells Absalom to
pursue after David while he was tired and did not have the
wanted to take 12,000 men
and overwhelm David that very night. He clearly hinted that he
would kill David and then his followers would melt away and
Absalom by default would be the unchallenged king.
Ahithophelís advice was good. It probably would have worked as
planned. But God had other plans. He providentially hindered the
plan of Ahithophel.
Vernon McGee pointed out that this counsel was in direct
contrast to Hushai.
As we have been
following the different experiences of David, we saw first his
triumphs, and now we are seeing his troubles. In fact, he is
really in trouble right now. Davidís own son Absalom, whom I
believe he loved above everything else in this world, is leading
a rebellion against him. This was a heartbreak to the king.
David withdrew from Jerusalem because he did not want it to
become the scene of a battle and possibly be destroyed. Instead,
David left his beloved city. He sent Hushai back to Absalom so
that he might give him counsel that would be to Davidís
advantage. Ahithophel, who had once been an advisor to David,
had defected to Absalom. In chapter 17 these two advisors are
giving Absalom contradictory counsel about whether or not to
attack his father at this time.
2 Sam 17:5 Then said Absalom, Call now Hushai the Archite also,
and let us hear likewise what he saith.
2 Sam 17:6 And when Hushai was come to Absalom, Absalom spake
unto him, saying, Ahithophel hath spoken after this manner:
shall we do after his saying? if not; speak thou.
Perhaps out of courtesy and certainly by Godís providence,
Absalom decided to get another opinion from Hushai.
Absalom rehearsed the advice of Ahithophel to Hushai and
essentially asked, now what do you think.
2 Sam 17:7 And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that
Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time.
2 Sam 17:8 For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his
men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds,
as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a
man of war, and will not lodge with the people.
2 Sam 17:9 Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other
place: and it will come to pass, when some of them be overthrown
at the first, that whosoever heareth it will say, There is a
slaughter among the people that follow Absalom.
2 Sam 17:10 And he also that is valiant, whose heart is as the
heart of a lion, shall utterly melt: for all Israel knoweth that
thy father is a mighty man, and they which be with him are
2 Sam 17:11 Therefore I counsel that all Israel be generally
gathered unto thee, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that
is by the sea for multitude; and that thou go to battle in thine
2 Sam 17:12 So shall we come upon him in some place where he
shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on
the ground: and of him and of all the men that are with him
there shall not be left so much as one.
2 Sam 17:13 Moreover, if he be gotten into a city, then shall
all Israel bring ropes to that city, and we will draw it into
the river, until there be not one small stone found there.
2 Sam 17:14 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.
As he had planned, Hushai stepped in to try and thwart Absalom
and Ahithophel. He objected to Ahithophelís plan hoping to
buy time. Hushaiís advice was clearly a stalling tactic. He
hoped that David could escape farther and gather enough
followers to defend himself. Therefore, he tried to talk Absalom
that purpose in view, Hushai counseled ďthat
all Israel be generally gathered unto thee,Ē
Though Hushai had a grandiose plan, it was actually a stalling
tactic. Dan was the northern extremity of Israel. Beersheba
was the southern extremity. It would take some time to send
messengers from one end of the country to the other and then
have delegates gather for a conference on the matter. That is
exactly what Hushai hoped would happen. It would allow David
time to further distance himself and consolidate his military
In verse 14, we find the clear providential working of God at
God providentially put it in the hearts of Absalom and his privy
council to accept Hushaiís advice. Moreover, the intentions of
God are made clear: ďthat the LORD
might bring evil upon Absalom.Ē That He would.
Prov 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I
Prov 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
Prov 8:16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of
Sam 17:15 Then said Hushai unto Zadok and to Abiathar the priests,
Thus and thus did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of
Israel; and thus and thus have I counselled.
Sam 17:16 Now therefore send quickly, and tell David, saying, Lodge
not this night in the plains of the wilderness, but speedily pass
over; lest the king be swallowed up, and all the people that are
2 Sam 17:17 Now
Jonathan and Ahimaaz stayed by Enrogel; for they might not be seen
to come into the city: and a wench went and told them; and they went
and told king David.
we look back in the prior chapters, we will recall that Zadok and
Abiathar the priests remained loyal to David.
II Samuel 15:35-36, David had directed that they remain in Jerusalem
to gather intelligence of what was going on and send word to him
thereof. Hushai was aware of that and thus informed them of what
had transpired. His advice to David was to get as far from
Jerusalem as soon as possible. Therefore, upon reaching the Jordan
River valley and its flood plain, David ought to cross the river and
keep on going. Absalom could pursue at any time. Though Hushai
had counseled Absalom to delay action, he advised David the exact
verse 17, we find Jonathan and Ahimaaz were the young and
swift sons of the priests. Enrogel was a suburban area
immediately north of Jerusalem. There, the priests sons had laid
low awaiting information to take to David. The reference to a
simply old English for a maid servant. The priests sent word
out to Enrogel via one of their young maids.
They in turn made haste to catch up to David with the counsel of
Sam 17:18 Nevertheless a lad saw them, and told Absalom: but they
went both of them away quickly, and came to a man's house in Bahurim,
which had a well in his court; whither they went down.
Sam 17:19 And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's
mouth, and spread ground corn thereon; and the thing was not known.
Sam 17:20 And when Absalom's servants came to the woman to the
house, they said, Where is Ahimaaz and Jonathan? And the woman said
unto them, They be gone over the brook of water. And when they had
sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
Sam 17:21 And it came to pass, after they were departed, that they
came up out of the well, and went and told king David, and said unto
David, Arise, and pass quickly over the water: for thus hath
Ahithophel counselled against you.
2 Sam 17:22 Then David arose, and all the people that were with
him, and they passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked
not one of them that was not gone over Jordan.
young man evidently loyal to Absalom saw them leave in haste and was
immediately suspicious. Bahurim was a town on the east side of the
Mount of Olives on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
Jonathan and Ahimaaz likely knew that David had headed in the
direction and may have learned that David had paused there as noted
in chapter 16. However, it is evident that they were aware they
had been spotted and needed to hide. Upon arriving at Bahurim,
they found a man loyal to David and sought refuge. He had a
well within his courtyard which evidently only had a board covering
over it. Therefore, his wife placed these two young men therein,
covered it over, and then spread grain on top of it to conceal it.
No one was the wiser. The lady of the house misled them,
intimating that they had headed for Jordan and crossed it.
Absalomís men could not find them so they returned.
verse 21, after the danger passed, the young men climbed out of the
well and ran to Davidís encampment.
They urged him to cross the Jordan lest Ahithophelís plan be adopted
after all. David therefore paid heed to the warning of his friend
dawn, he and his party had completely crossed the Jordan River to
safer territory to the east.
Henry said this in his notes:
We must now leave
Davidís enemies pleasing themselves with the thoughts of a sure
victory by following Hushaiís counsel, and sending a summons, no
doubt, to all the tribes of Israel, to come to the general
rendezvous at a place appointed, pursuant to that counsel; and we
next find Davidís friends consulting how to get him notice of all
this, that he might steer his course accordingly. Hushai tells the
priests what had passed in council, v. 15. But, it should seem, he
was not sure but that yet Ahithophelís counsel might be followed,
and was therefore jealous lest, if he made not the best of his way,
the king would be swallowed up, and all the people that were with
him, v. 16. Perhaps, as he was called in to give advice (v. 5), so
he was dismissed before they came to that resolve (v. 14) in favour
of his advice, or he feared they might afterwards change their mind.
However, it was good to provide against the worst, and therefore to
hasten those valuable lives out of the reach of these destroyers.
Such strict guards did Absalom set upon all the avenues to Jerusalem
that they had much ado to get this necessary intelligence to David.
1. The young priests that were to be the messengers were forced to
retire secretly out of the city, by En-rogel, which signifies, as
some say, the fountain of a spy. Surely it went ill with Jerusalem
when two such faithful priests as they were might not be seen to
come into the city. 2. Instructions were sent to them by a poor
simple young woman, who probably went to that well under pretence of
fetching water, v. 17. If she carried the message by word of mouth,
there was danger of her making some mistake or blunder in it; but
Providence can make an ignorant girl a trusty messenger, and serve
its wise counsels by the foolish things of the world.
Sam 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not
followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his
house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged
himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father.
Sam 17:24 Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over
Jordan, he and all the men of Israel with him.
Meanwhile, back in Jerusalem,
when Ahithophel saw that his counsel
was not followed, he went home, put his house in order and hanged
conceit of this man is evident.
Because his advice was passed over, he was so humiliated that he
committed suicide. Pride is a terribly destructive force. In
verse 24, we find David coming to the city of Mahanaim. Mahanaim
was a town on the east side of the Jordan River, north of Jericho,
and some miles inland in the greater region of Gilead. Absalom
organized his forces and went in pursuit of his father.
Prov 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and
arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
Prov 8:14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I
II. Absalom Pursue David
Sam 17:25 And Absalom made Amasa captain of the host instead of
Joab: which Amasa was a man's son, whose name was Ithra an
Israelite, that went in to Abigail the daughter of Nahash, sister to
Zeruiah Joab's mother.
2 Sam 17:26 So Israel
and Absalom pitched in the land of Gilead.
Some details of Absalomís primary general are noted. Absalomís
Ďchief of staffí was Amasa.
noted, Joab (Davidís general) and Amasa were cousins and David was
the uncle of them both.
civil war about to develop certainly would be a mutually destructive
fight. Absalom and his forces therefore also encamped in the
region of Gilead in preparation for battle.
Sam 17:27 And it came to pass, when David was come to Mahanaim,
that Shobi the son of Nahash of Rabbah of the children of Ammon, and
Machir the son of Ammiel of Lodebar, and Barzillai the Gileadite of
Sam 17:28 Brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat,
and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles,
and parched pulse,
2 Sam 17:29 And honey,
and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David, and for the
people that were with him, to eat: for they said, The people is
hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness.
Three friends of David from the region of Gilead, upon hearing what
had happened, immediately began to bring supplies and provisions for
David and his forces.
Noted are Shobi from Ammon, Machir from Lodebar, and Barzillai from
Rogelim. They brought bedding and all manner of foodstuffs for
David and his camp. Once again, the providential hand of God is
apparent. David was supplied with all that he needed in the
It is to the comfort of all who fear God the
fact that He has an over ruling hand in all counsels and a strong
voice in all resolves of the just and the unjust.
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Practice Random Acts of Kindness. Each act spreads, and many will
J. Vernon McGee, Thru
the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos
Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981
by J. Vernon McGee.
Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA:
Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.