It is a natural human tendency to seek another opinion, be it the need for medical or surgical treatment, or obtaining a proper ‘diagnosis’ about a crumbling brickwork before commissioning the right builder, or simply where to go for your next holiday! It is also tempting at times to make a quick or hasty decision and not be obsessed with the outcome.
Ahithophel naturally felt that he had acted in a responsible manner. Here, as the sordid saga of David’s family continues, we find royal mismanagement, misguided advice and divided loyalties all coming to the fore. King David is still on the run fearful of his avenging son. Absalom’s desperate plight meant that it was difficult for him to be able to discern true counsel and the right course of action in relation to his father. Perhaps, it is one of those ‘should have’ moments that he needed to strike while the iron is hot!
Ahithophel’s shrewd advice was given in good faith and borne out of an experience of military manoeuvres. While trust is notably absent throughout the respective households, Absalom chose to seek a second opinion because of his own inadequacy and vulnerability. The narrative is terse: eventually Ahithophel’s rejection and shame led him to end it all! Was his suicide a responsible act, you might ask? Even in recent times, ending one’s life in such contexts might be deemed honourable.
However, there will be times when our Christian pilgrimage is tough. We will face prejudice, misunderstanding and will experience rejection not least because of the views and position that we might adopt. That should preclude, however, any hasty decision or drastic action on our part, where consequences could be hurtful or harmful to those whom we journey with.
Unbeknown to Absalom, Hushai had double-crossed him. This seeking of an alternative strategy ultimately cost him his life. As we had already read in 2 Samuel 12.10, the curse that the ‘sword shall never depart from your house’ is increasingly realised in David’s dysfunctional family, whose sole preoccupation was to seek vengeance and right succession to the throne.