“Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.”” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Good counsel is hard to find. The best counsel is rooted in reality, not what we wish would happen. It cares little for our heart’s desire, but understands fully the facts of the situation we are in or facing. It isn’t always going to lead us in the easiest or most convenient direction, but it will always point us toward the quickest way to our desired outcome. Indeed, good counsel is hard to find. It’s even harder to distinguish from counsel that’s merely flattering.
Ahithophel was widely recognized as a good counselor. That’s not necessarily to say he was a godly man at all. His wisdom was worldly, but it was sound. Perhaps a better way to say it is that he was an expert tactician. He could read an enemy’s situation and point his leader in the direction that would almost certainly lead to victory.
In this case, that’s exactly what he did. David and his men were exhausted and demoralized. A quick, decisive strike would have found them disorganized and unprepared. They could have easily gotten to David, taken him out, and marched back with his head to celebrate Absalom’s formal ascension to the throne. His plan almost certainly would have worked.
There was just one problem: there was no glory in this plan. Absalom just sat there at home, playing king with his father’s concubines, waiting for Ahithophel and his forces to return. Here’s the thing: you don’t make a move on your father’s throne like this without a certain (high) amount of egoism burning in your gut. You have to get to the mental place where you not only think you could do a better job, but that your kingship is of significant importance to the nation that you need to take the job now while he still has it. Ahithophel’s advice was sound, but it didn’t play into Absalom’s ego at all.
God used this weakness—a little self-confidence is a strength, ego is a weakness—to lead him to seek the advice of Hushai, David’s inside man, who gave Absalom the advice he wanted to hear, framed in such a way as to allow his lord and his men to complete their escape and regroup for the battle that was ahead of them. He painted a scenario in which Absalom rode out ahead of a massive army that would completely overwhelm David and his men, wipe them out entirely, and march back to Jerusalem in a great victory parade. With his ego thus massaged, Absalom went with Hushai’s plan instead of Ahithophel’s and sealed his fate.
Pride is dangerous stuff. A little bit of the right kind of pride (pride in another person such as our children, for instance) can be a healthy and good thing. But the moment we start thinking we are better than someone else and don’t need God to make it through life, or perhaps that we are deserving of power and influence, of prestige and renown, we set ourselves up for a rather painful run-in with the walls of reality.
If you’ve got pride in your heart—and the odds are exceptionally high that you do—root it out with the Spirit’s help. There are lots of ways pride can manifest itself in our lives, many of them are so deceptive that not even we recognize it unless we are watching very carefully. Ask the Lord to give you the eyes to see yourself for who you really are (brace yourself first), and resubmit yourself to Him in all the places where pride has stopped you from doing it. The alternative is a painful road of destruction until humility comes back to bear on your life. Better to receive it on your own terms than to have it given to you by someone else.