Vol.X No.V Pg.1
July 1973


Robert F. Turner

Ahithophel was a statesman and counselor of kings, who enjoyed such great fame and popularity that his advice was as if a man inquired at the oracle of God. (2 Sam. l6:23) But Ahithophel was an opportunist. He had been advisor to King David, until Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel (15:6), and then he gave his allegiance to Absalom, apparently in the belief that he would overcome David, He conspired with Absalom, so that David prayed, Oh Jehovah... turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. (15:31)

It was Ahithophel who advised Absalom to spread a tent upon the top of his house, and to go in unto thy fathers concubines before all Israel— i.e., to publicly insult David, and ridicule decency and honor (16:20-f.). This was a bit of psychological warfare. Then, as if that were not foolishness enough, he seemed to forget the strong-hearted character of David, and advised a military operation that promised to frighten and overcome David, and bring his followers to their knees before Absalom. He was shooting for the big one now, and he had the court smiling and nodding at his brilliance. (17:4)

But David had a friend among the court counselors who said, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given this time is not good. He reminded them of Davids strength, and the unlikeliness of catching him off-guard. And he urged Absalom to personally lead a force against David. More intrigue, but thats another story. (2 Sam. 18:)

And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass and arose and got him home unto his city, and set his house in order, and hanged himself.. . (17:23) He is the only suicide mentioned in the 0. T., except those in warfare. He was apparently a childish, unstable person; trying to play the odds to elevate himself and feed his pride, with little regard for moral principles of right or wrong. He flashed across the pages of history, misusing his talents, dying in shame. And his name means Foolish.

I got the idea for this article while watching Watergate testimony.