In the book of 2 Samuel chapter 15, King David’s son Absalom decided to kill his father and take his crown. Absolom was not the firstborn, nor was he in line to rule Israel. But he was overly ambitious, handsome, popular, and disillusioned enough with his father to plot his ruin. In a four-year time frame he managed to form a loyal army of followers and recruit David’s top advisor, Athithophel, to his cause. So formidable was his rebellion that David was forced to flee for his life from Jerusalem.
When Absalom arrived in force in the city immediately he asked Athithophel for advice. The old counselor told him to sleep with his father’s concubines on the roof in the sight of the people. This would prove to everyone that there could be no reconciliation and strengthen the resolve of those who followed him. Next, Athithophel asked for 12,000 soldiers to immediately go after David and strike him down while he was both weak and vulnerable.
MEDITATION 2 Samuel 16:23—Now the advice Ahithophel gave in those days was like someone asking about a word from God—such was the regard that both David and Absalom had for Ahithophel’s advice.
Athithophel was a man with a prophet’s stature. Yet, when we evaluate his conduct with Absalom he is anything but a godly advisor. He openly encouraged Absalom to dishonor his father and commit adultery in the most egregious fashion. He betrayed David, the king he so loyally served, and eagerly sought to kill him. He was more than willing to help Absalom violate three of the Ten Commandments. What caused this man to turn and become so evil?
Perhaps like Absalom, Athithophel was deeply unhappy with David’s rule. He knew that when Absalom’s stepbrother, Amnon raped his sister Tamar, David did nothing to punish him. He remembered that David committed adultery with Bathsheba, impregnated her and then had her husband Uriah, murdered to cover his tracks. Clearly both Absalom and Athithophel mentally and emotionally justified their intent to destroy David. And in the process of studying them we gain valuable insight about choosing the right advice.
Advice is like rain. In the right amount and administered properly it nourishes the soil, promotes and sustains life. In the wrong amount, or administered improperly, it causes damage and is demoralizing. Here are some keys to remember in evaluating advice:
• If the advice violates God’s commands and sanctions wrongdoing it is ungodly.
• If the advice comes without prayer or seeking God’s will it may very well be presumptuous, self-centered, or infected with hidden agendas.
• An advisor’s record for providing superb counsel does not mean his or her current advice should be unquestionably followed.
• Whenever sin is justified the ability to discern good advice is compromised.
• If the immediate effect of advice causes harm expect that the second and third order effects will amplify that harm. Advising bad actions will not reap good results (2 Samuel 17 reveals what happened to Athithophel).
Choosing the right advice is the key to godly living so pay attention and gain joy!
©2014 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)