2 Samuel 15:31
Now someone told David: "Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom." So David pleaded, "O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!"
ConspiratorsW. Birch, jun.2 Samuel 15:31
Prayer for the Defeat of Chose Who Attempt to Subvert Good GovernmentN. Emmons, D. D.2 Samuel 15:31
The Counsel of AhithophelB. Dale 2 Samuel 15:31
A Struggle for a CrownSpurgeon, Charles Haddon2 Samuel 15:1-37
Absalom: a StudyS. Cox, D. D.2 Samuel 15:1-37
Absalom; Or, the Fast Young ManA. H. Charlton.2 Samuel 15:1-37
Absalom's RebellionMonday, Club Sermons.2 Samuel 15:1-37
Absalom's RebellionJ. Hall, D. D.2 Samuel 15:1-37
Ambition2 Samuel 15:1-37
An Ungrateful SonJ. R. Campbell.2 Samuel 15:1-37
David and AbsalomG. J. Coster.2 Samuel 15:1-37
The Rebellion of AbsalomC. S. Robinson, D. D.2 Samuel 15:1-37

2 Samuel 15:31. - (MOUNT OLIVET.)
Turn, I pray thee, the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness, O Jehovah. (References: 2 Samuel 15:12, 34; 2 Samuel 16:15, 20-23; 2 Samuel 17:1-7, 15, 23; 1 Chronicles 27:33.) While ascending the Mount of Olives, David received intelligence that his counsellor, Ahithophel the Gilonite, had gone over to Absalom. He was the wisest statesman in Israel, and nothing was more adapted than his counsel to ensure the success of the revolt. The effect which his defection produced upon David is evident from the prayer (suggested probably by his name, "brother of a fool") that forthwith broke from his lips. As he continued his, journey, he, perhaps, reflected on the former course of Ahithophel (the Old Testament Judas) in the light of present knowledge, and indulged some such sentiments as are expressed in Psalm 41., 'The comfort of the afflicted and betrayed;' Psalm 55, 'Prayer against a treacherous friend;' Psalm 69., 109. Observe that -


"Also my friend [literally, 'man of my peace'], whom I trusted,
Who did eat of my bread,
Hath lifted up his heel against me."

(Psalm 41:10; John 13:18.)

"For it is not an enemy, etc.
But thou wast a man on an equality with me,
My companion and familiar friend," etc.

(Psalm 55:13-15.) The motives of Ahithophel are not expressly stated; but they were probably:

1. Dislike of the religious earnestness and theocratic policy of David.

2. Ambition to be the sole adviser and prime minister of Absalom. "There may have been jealousy of Joab, or the natural tendency to worship the rising instead of the setting sun, or the impatience of a hypocrite at the round of religious services in which he was compelled to bear a part, affecting a devotion he did not feel, Psalm 55:13, 14" (Plumptre).

3. Revenge "for the dishonour done to his family in the person of Bathsheba, which no subsequent marriage could repair or efface" (Delany). "He was urged by the desire of punishing David's greatest crime, if he were not at the bottom of the movement. It is but reasonable to trace in the conspiring Ahithophel one of the intricate methods by which the judicial providence of God works out its own ends; suffering a great offender, notwithstanding his penitence, to eat the fruit of his deeds; yet reserving for treachery in time its reward" (R. Williams). "This text is a glass wherein God's justice is plainly to be seen. David had formerly forsaken Uriah, and now God suffers Ahithophel to forsake David.

(1) Let us learn, when our friends forsake us, to enter into a serious scrutiny with our own souls.

(2) The most politic heads have not always the faithfullest hearts.

(3) False friends will forsake thee in times of adversity" (T. Fuller). "My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook," etc. (Job 6:15; Jacox, 'Stray Side-Lights on Scripture Texts').

II. GREAT GIFTS ARE SOMETIMES PERVERTED TO UNGODLY USES. "That oracular wisdom which made his house a kind of shrine (2 Samuel 16:23) seems to move the spirit of the sacred writer with an involuntary admiration" (Stanley). "His great crimes were enhanced by his immense talents, of which God gave him the use and the devil the application." His criminality appears not only in

(1) his sanctioning and promoting rebellion against the authority of the king; but also in

(2) his lawless and shameless advice against his honour (2 Samuel 16:21, 22), whereby he sought to make reconciliation and compromise impossible in the view of all, and to gratify his revenge in the most effective and significant manner (2 Samuel 11:2, 4, 11); becoming, consciously or unconsciously, an instrument of retribution. "This cursed policy showed him rather an oracle of the devil than of God" (Matthew Henry).

(3) His malicious and cruel proposal to take away his life (2 Samuel 17:2). None but a man devoid of all moral and religious principle could have given such counsel. A powerful intellect is, alas! too often united with a depraved heart. "It is often found true by experience that persons of superior penetration and wisdom are of bad intentions; they see further than other men, and are under a temptation to turn their minds to the overreaching of others, and effecting mischief; their ability in accomplishing wickedness is a snare and a temptation to them; they find they can do it, and therefore are ready and willing to do it" (W. Jones, of Nayland). "This man, while he was one of David's deep counsellors, was one of David's fools, that said in their hearts, 'There is no God;' else he could not have hoped to make good an evil with worse, to build the success of treason upon incest." "Oh the policy of this Machiavelli of Israel, no less deep than hell itself! Oh the wisdom of the Almighty, that can use the worst evils well, and most justly make the sins of man his executioners!" (Hall).

III. GOD IS ABLE TO FRUSTRATE THE CRAFTIEST COUNSELS. "Turn," etc., "either infatuate him, that he may give foolish counsel; or, let his counsel be rejected as foolish, or spoiled by the foolish execution of it" (Poole). "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness," etc. (Job 5:13; 1 Corinthians 3:19). Of this David was persuaded from:

1. His supreme and infinite wisdom, in comparison with which the highest human wisdom is foolishness.

2. His abundant and varied resources for the direction and control of men's purposes and actions, so that they are made of none effect, or turn out contrary to what was intended and expected.

3. His frequent and extraordinary interpositions for that end. History is full of such instances (Acts 4:28). So are individual lives (1 Samuel 23:24-28). "Though Ahithophel spoke as an oracle of God (as we often see statesmen wiser than priests), yet as he turned to treachery his counsel turned to foolishness."

IV. A GOOD MAN HAS AN UNFAILING RESOURCE IN EVERY TROUBLE, viz. sincere, believing, fervent prayer. "Call upon me," etc. (Psalm 1:15).

1. However beset by the craft and power of his adversaries, he cannot be deprived of this privilege, but has access to God in all circumstances, at all times, and in all places (ver. 32). "A Christian cannot always hear, or always read, or always communicate, but he may pray continually. If he be on the top of a house with Peter, he may pray; if he he in the bottom of the ocean with Jonah, he may pray; if he be walking in the field with Isaac, he may pray when no eye seeth him; if he be waiting at table with Nehemiah, he may pray when no ear heareth him; if he be in the mountains with our Saviour, he may pray; if he be in the prison with Paul, he may pray; wherever he is, prayer will help him to find God out. Every saint is God's temple; and he that carrieth his temple about him, saith Austin, may go to prayer when he pleaseth. Indeed, to a Christian every house is a house of prayer; every closet a chamber of presence; and every place he comes to an altar whereon he may offer the sacrifice of prayer" (Swinnock, 'The Christian Man's Calling').

2. The depth of his helplessness and peril is an incentive to higher earnestness and an argument for the fulfilment of Divine promises. "Ejaculations are short prayers darted up to God on emergent occasions. When we are time bound, place bound, or person bound, so that we cannot compose ourselves to make a large solemn prayer, this is the right instant for ejaculations, whether orally uttered or only poured forth inwardly in the heart" (T. Fuller).

3. And his prayer is not offered in vain. Sometimes while he is "yet speaking" (Isaiah 65:24) the answer comes (ver. 32). "In answer to a single emphatical ejaculation the counsel of the prudent is carried headlong" (Scott).

"As for me - unto God will I cry,
And Jehovah will save me.
Evening and morning and at noon will I complain and groan,
And he will hear my voice.
Cast thy burden upon Jehovah,
He - he will sustain thee."

(Psalm 55:16, 17, 22.) D.

O Lord, I pray Thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.
Unfortunately for mankind the time of religious conspirators is not at an end. Under the fair robe of Christianity, there are men who are plotting to take away from us the liberty of conscience. There is steadily growing in number and power a party whose object is to play into the hands of that church which proclaims itself to be infallible. Let us mention that great conspirator whose name is temptation. Mr. Ruskin says that the human soul is not a machine, the wheels of which you can scrape and polish, and set it going at the rate of, twenty or thirty miles an hour. The human soul is not a machine; it is a living thing which has to grow. Converts who begin to turn over a fresh leaf and to serve the Lord Jesus are often much distressed because they are still inclined to their old sins. Let all such young believers bear in mind that they are not a perfected machine, but are rather like a seed which has to grow, or a child that has to be trained. Like the conspirators who would hand our free country over to the chains of Rome, so the tempter in your heart, is working very gradually. When I was a boy I tried to light a thick piece of wood with a match, but failed to do so. Had I taken some shavings and lit, them, and then a few chips and placed them against the log it would soon have been in a blaze. So the inward conspirator works on, little by little. If we could see the devil in every temptation, no doubt we should act as old Dunstan is said to have done; but we have a tendency to sin, and when the inward conspirator makes our besetting sin very tempting, none of us can resist it without the grace of God.

(W. Birch, jun.)

I. BRIEFLY DESCRIBE A GOOD GOVERNMENT. Some suppose that one form of government is as good as another, provided it be equally well administered. If this opinion could be admitted all observations upon this head would be entirely superseded. But there is no foundation to imagine that the goodness or badness of any government depends solely upon its administration. It must be allowed that the ultimate design of civil government is to restrain the corruptions of human nature. And since human nature is the same at all times and in all places, the same form of government which is best for one nation is best for all nations, if they would only agree to adopt it. Hence politicians may arrive at as great perfection in the art of government as in any other art which is founded on the principles of human nature. A civil constitution ought to resemble a good time-piece: A good clock, for instance, will constantly and regularly move of itself, if it be only wound up, from day to day, or from week to week. So a good constitution will support itself, without requiring anything more of the people than barely their setting it in motion, and choosing their own rulers, at a prescribed time, and in a prescribed manner.

II. TO INQUIRE WHO MAY BE SAID TO BE AIMING TO OVERTHROW A GOOD GOVERNMENT, There is such a great diversity in the natural abilities, acquired knowledge, local situations, and temporal interests of mankind, that it is not to be expected they should be perfectly agreed in their political sentiments. Individuals, therefore, may be good subjects of a good government, though they should really think that its constitution is not so perfect as it might be; or that those in administration do not in all cases conduct public affairs so well as they might conduct them. But we may justly consider those as aiming to subvert the government, who endeavour to alienate the affections of the people from it. This was the method which Absalom pursued, in order to take the kingdom out of his father's hands into his own. Accordingly, when we find any description of men insidiously endeavouring to alienate the affections of the people from their government, we have no room to doubt of their malevolent and traitorous designs. They are certainly seeking the power of bringing about a revolution of government; and should they attain that power, we may presume they will employ it for that purpose.


1. That the subversion of a good government is one of the greatest calamities than can fair upon a people. A good government is the security of everything which they hold most dear and valuable in life. It protects their persons, their property, and all their civil and religious privileges. And if this foundation of their public safety and happiness should be taken away they would be completely ruined. Hence David demands, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

2. It is the prerogative of God to frustrate the most secret and destructive counsels of men. He knows their down-sittings and up-risings. He understands their thoughts afar off. He looks on their hearts and ponders all their purposes. They cannot conceive an evil thought nor concert a malignant design which he cannot perfectly penetrate and comprehend. He is able therefore to discover and disconcert the most subtile and secret counsels against the peace and prosperity of any people. This the inspired writers firmly believed and abundantly taught.

3. That God has often defeated the most destructive and deep-laid designs of men, in answer to prayer. David entreated God to confound the designs of Ahithophel. "O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness." This prayer was graciously heard and answered.

(N. Emmons, D. D.)

Abiathar, Absalom, Ahimaaz, Ahithophel, Aram, Arkite, Cherethites, David, Gittites, Hushai, Israelites, Ittai, Jonathan, Kerethites, Levites, Pelethites, Zadok
Aram, Gath, Geshur, Giloh, Hebron, Jerusalem, Kidron, Mount of Olives
Absalom, Ab'salom, Ahithophel, Ahith'ophel, Ahithophel's, Conspirators, Counsel, David, Declared, Foolish, Foolishness, Joined, O, Please, Prayed, Saying, Someone, Turn, Wisdom
1. Absalom, by fair speeches and courtesies, steals the hearts of Israel.
7. By pretense of a vow, he obtains leave to go to Hebron
10. He makes there a great conspiracy
13. David upon the news flees from Jerusalem
19. Ittai will leave him
24. Zadok and Abiathar are sent back with the ark
30. David and his company go up mount Olivet weeping,
31. He curses Ahithophel's counsel
32. Hushai is sent back with instructions

Dictionary of Bible Themes
2 Samuel 15:31

     5780   advisers
     5817   conspiracies

2 Samuel 15:31-34

     5779   advice

A Loyal Vow
'And the king's servants said unto the king, Behold, thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my lord the king shall appoint.'--2 SAMUEL xv. 15. We stand here at the darkest hour of King David's life. Bowed down by the consciousness of his past sin, and recognising in the rebellion of his favourite son the divine chastisement, his early courage and buoyant daring seem to have ebbed from him wholly. He is forsaken by the mass of his subjects, he is preparing to abandon Jerusalem, and to flee as an
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Ittai of Gath
'And Ittai answered the king, and said, As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be.'--2 SAMUEL xv. 21. It was the darkest hour in David's life. No more pathetic page is found in the Old Testament than that which tells the story of his flight before Absalom. He is crushed by the consciousness that his punishment is deserved--the bitter fruit of the sin that filled all his later life
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Pardoned Sin Punished
'And It came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2. And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel. 3. And Absalom said unto him. See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Loyal to the Core
On the other hand, look at Ittai, perfectly free to go, but in order to end the controversy once for all, and to make David know that he does not mean to leave him, he takes a solemn oath before Jehovah his God, and he doubles it by swearing by the life of David that he will never leave him; in life, in death, he will be with him. He has cast in his lot with him for better and for worse, and he means to be faithful to the end. Old Master Trapp says, "All faithful friends went on a pilgrimage years
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 26: 1880

Following Christ
"And Ittai answered the king, and said, as the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be."--2 Samuel 15:21. SOME men have a very remarkable power of creating and sustaining friendship in others. David was a man brimming over with affection--a man, notwithstanding all his rough soldier-life, of an exceedingly tender heart--a man, I was about to say--the word was on my tongue--a man of vast
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 62: 1916

The Will of God
"Here am I, let Him do to me as seemeth good unto Him."--2 Sam. xv. 26. G. Ter Steegen. tr., Emma Frances Bevan, 1899 Thou sweet beloved Will of God, My anchor ground, my fortress hill, The Spirit's silent fair abode, In Thee I hide me and am still. O Will, that willest good alone, Lead Thou the way, Thou guidest best; A silent child, I follow on, And trusting, lean upon Thy Breast. God's Will doth make the bitter sweet, And all is well when it is done; Unless His Will doth hallow it, The glory
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen and Others (Second Series)

A Light to Lighten the Gentiles
P. G. 2 Sam. xv. 19-22; John xii. 26 "Wherefore goest thou with me?" Said the king disowned-- Said the king despised, rejected, Disenthroned. "Go, return unto thy place, To thy king of yore-- Here a pilgrim and a stranger, Nothing more. "Not for thee the cities fair, Hills of corn and wine-- All was portioned ere thou camest, Nought is thine. "Wandering forth where'er I may, Exiled from mine own, Shame, rejection I can grant thee; That alone. "Turn and take thy brethren back, With thy people
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

The Daily Walk with Others (iii. ).
Thrice happy they who at Thy side, Thou Child of Nazareth, Have learnt to give their struggling pride Into Thy hands to death: If thus indeed we lay us low, Thou wilt exalt us o'er the foe; And let the exaltation be That we are lost in Thee. Let me say a little on a subject which, like the last, is one of some delicacy and difficulty, though its problems are of a very different kind. It is, the relation between the Curate and his Incumbent; or more particularly, the Curate's position and conduct
Handley C. G. Moule—To My Younger Brethren

And V the Kingdom Undivided and the Kingdom Divided
THE HISTORICAL BOOKS: I and II Samuel. I and II Kings. I and II Chronicles. NOTE.--As these three pairs of books are so closely related in their historical contents, it is deemed best to study them together, though they overlap the two divisions of IV and V. I. CHARTS Chart A. General Contents +--+ " I AND II SAMUEL " +-------------+-----+------+ "Samuel "Saul "David " +-------------+-----+------+----------+ " " " " I AND II KINGS "NOTE.--Biblical
Frank Nelson Palmer—A Bird's-Eye View of the Bible

That Whereas the City of Jerusalem had Been Five Times Taken Formerly, this was the Second Time of Its Desolation. A Brief Account of Its History.
1. And thus was Jerusalem taken, in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, on the eighth day of the month Gorpeius [Elul]. It had been taken five [34] times before, though this was the second time of its desolation; for Shishak, the king of Egypt, and after him Antiochus, and after him Pompey, and after them Sosius and Herod, took the city, but still preserved it; but before all these, the king of Babylon conquered it, and made it desolate, one thousand four hundred and sixty-eight years and
Flavius Josephus—The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem

King of Kings and Lord of Lords
And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, K ING OF K INGS AND L ORD OF L ORDS T he description of the administration and glory of the Redeemer's Kingdom, in defiance of all opposition, concludes the second part of Messiah Oratorio. Three different passages from the book of Revelation are selected to form a grand chorus, of which Handel's title in this verse is the close --a title which has been sometimes vainly usurped by proud worms of this earth. Eastern monarchs, in particular,
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book[1] of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate,
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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