Posts Tagged ‘Ahithophel’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 71

His arrival was royally received. David had chosen the Levitical town of Mahanaim deliberately. It had been the capital of Saul’s son, king Ish-bosheth, and so it was already known as a royal city. Strongly fortified, it was the boundary between the lands of Gad and Manasseh, a strategic place to be for a king who did not want to divide his people. For David, it was also a sacred place, a town assigned to Levites back in the days of Joshua – a place where I can pray.

Grateful for the blessings of his journey so far, he thanked God for the people of the region. They had brought them every form of refreshment they needed; beds, basins, pottery, wheat, barley, flour, grain, beans, lentils, seeds, honey, curds, sheep, and cheese. The food was a welcome greeting after their journey through the wilderness.

Such generosity had followed them through their travels so far. In thanksgiving prayer David recalled the generosity of Ziba, the servant of Mephibosheth, while he had been on the Mount of Olives. And now Barzillai, an old and trusted ironsmith had also brought him supplies and weapons of extraordinary quality.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

It was Hushai who reported to Absalom. His news was disturbing. “Ahithophel has hanged himself.” Absalom seemed unperturbed and said absently, “Well, Ahithophel, … that was unexpected. It seems he does not take well to his new king refusing to take his advice. Bury him in his father’s grave, privately. Tell people he was ashamed of failing his king.”

As Hushai arranged for Ahithophel’s broken body to be buried without ceremony, he thought, You were once one of David’s closest counsellors, but now you will be remembered as a traitor. You have failed the king, but it is not Absalom. At times remorse pursues men relentlessly to their deaths.

In years to come the spirit of Ahithophel would enter a man called Judas as he greeted Jesus, the One called the Son of David, and betray him with a kiss. Judas would also hang himself.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Some days later Absalom crossed the Jordan with his huge army. It appeared as if all the men of Israel were with him. Absalom had chosen a man called Amasa to lead his army to face Joab. Amasa looked very much like Joab, tall and well-built. Amasa’s father had married the sister of Joab’s mother. Absalom had chosen him deliberately. Nephew against Uncle. Son against father. Brothers against brothers. They would camp at Gilead, in the mountains.

The day of reckoning has come, thought Absalom as he rode before his army, with a smile on his face. His army greatly outnumbered David’s. And his spies had discovered the position of David’s forces. My greatest goal will soon be achieved.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

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WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 70

Ahimaaz and Jonathan remained completely still, straining to hear as much as they could from the darkness above them. They were crammed into a small space inside a well in the middle of the courtyard. Eliana had placed a covering over the well and spread grain on it so that it looked like the place of threshing. They heard her say, “Can I offer you some food, sir” and knew that she was trying to entice someone away from their hiding place.

Something in her manner seemed to be unusual, but Paltiel could not pinpoint what it was. He had been here only once before, visiting Eliana’s husband, asking many questions about the people in the area. Since he had appeared to be friendly, her husband had welcomed him.

Eliana thought, If only Azriel were here now. They had long since assumed Paltiel to be one of Absalom’s spies. There were those in Bethurim who were very much against David. Many of them had agreed to be Absalom’s eyes and ears. When Ahimaaz and Jonathan had arrived she had the wisdom to have the road watched and the well ready for use.

As Eliana stood in the courtyard she could see the hate in Paltiel’s eyes. She had seen that same hate burning in the eyes of another man named Shimei. A hatred fired white hot and molten in the furnaces of Absalom’s war.

Not willing to move a muscle, Ahimaaz and Jonathan remained silent. They could hear the sound of their own breathing but nothing else. How long could they maintain their positions? Extremely uncomfortable they waited and the confinement of the well seemed to be pressing in on them with each minute that went by. They could hear nothing from above.

Then, when they were least expecting it, the covering of the well began to move. Suddenly, light flooded into to their hiding place, hurting their eyes and exposing their vulnerability. Ahimaaz could hear his pulse pounding in his ears as he felt a hand take hold of his wrist. He flinched but the grip was strong. We have been discovered!

“You can come out now”, Eliana said, with music in her voice, “They’re gone.” Both of them breathed a sigh of relief as they were assisted from the well. They were cramped and aching from the confined space. A smile radiated from a red and bruised face as they departed. This brave woman had risked her own life to save theirs.

The search had apparently continued for some time but to no avail. Eventually, frustrated and angry, Paltiel and his men had returned to Jerusalem.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

David’s men recognised Ahimaaz and Jonathan at the ford and they were ushered into his presence. They were both breathless as they gave their warning, “You will need to cross the Jordan immediately! Ahithophel has counselled against you.”

David spoke with Joab,

“We will head towards Mahanaim.”

“Yes, my lord. I shall speak with the other leaders.”

“No. Tell them only one part of our journey at a time. Absalom may have spies among us and I don’t want to risk the lives of so many people.”

David mobilised his people immediately and by dawn, they had all crossed the Jordan.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 69

After losing Absalom’s spies, Hushai spoke with Zadok and Abiathar the priests. He related everything that Ahithophel had counselled as well as his own advice to Absalom.

“Because I was sent out of the room before the decision was made, you will need to send a message to David immediately telling him not to spend the night at the fords. Tell him to cross over at once. He and all the people with him are in danger of their lives. As you know, Absalom’s spies are everywhere. How do you intend to get through to David without arousing suspicion?”

Zadok said, “Our sons, Jonathan and Ahimaaz are staying outside the city at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving Jerusalem. We will send a servant girl to them with your message and they will go to king David.” The plan seemed acceptable to Hushai.

 Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

“My lord, a man from En-rogel is here. He says he needs to speak with you immediately.”

Absalom instructed his servant to let the man in. When Paltiel had been instructed to watch Ahimaaz and Jonathan like a hawk, Absalom had said, “They may be used to get a message to David. Report anything you see that may seem unusual.”

“What news do you have?” Absalom asked.

Paltiel replied, “They met with a servant girl from the city and then headed towards Bahurim, my lord. I know that they have friends in Bahurim but they seemed to be in a hurry. This is also the first time they have moved from the house. It is as if they were waiting for the servant girl to arrive. It may be nothing, but it seemed suspicious to me.”

Absalom said, “Well done. Now take some of my servants with you and intercept them immediately. Bring them here for questioning.”

The man smiled. “Yes my lord”, he said.

Paltiel was the man to whom King Saul had once given his daughter, Michal, in marriage. She had been David’s wife, but when David was forced to flee, he had left her behind. David had demanded her to be returned as part of his negotiations with Abner. This had devastated Paltiel for he had been deeply in love with Michal.

Serving Absalom was Paltiel’s way of dealing with the injustice of this event. His name, Paltiel, meant God has delivered. “I intend to see my wife delivered from David’s clutches as decisively as she had been wrenched from mine,” he had told Absalom.

A contingent of men was chosen and Paltiel was on his way. When they arrived at the house in Bahurim, Paltiel stationed his men. A woman greeted him at the door and though he recognised her, he said abruptly,

“Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

“They are not here.” Paltiel struck the woman across the face with the back of his hand. He didn’t have time to waste.

“I know they have been here”, he said, “Now tell me where they are!” The woman held her face and was visibly shocked by Paltiel’s aggression.

“They are not here.” Her voice was quivering but indignant, “They have gone over the brook.” Paltiel gave his orders, “Search the brook and the house. They cannot have gone far.”

As some of the men searched the house, he strode out into the courtyard. His quick eyes surveyed the area. The woman followed him out. She felt a tense knot forming in her stomach but tried to hide any evidence of her fear and her deception from her face.

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 68

“But it is not enough simply to humiliate David and destroy his reputation.” said Ahithophel, “We must also destroy him!”

Absalom said, “Go on.”

There is only one way to destroy David now,” said Ahithophel. I know David’s tactics. If we give him any time to think, he will devise a plan to win back his kingdom. Let me choose 12,000 men and I will pursue David tonight. He will still be exhausted from his rapid retreat out of Jerusalem. If we attack him while he is least expecting it we will decimate his army. Most of the people with him will flee for their lives in the confusion. Those who remain will be scattered. Before he can regather his army I will strike him down. Then we can return with the people he has taken with him. They will refuse to return unless he is dead. They will accept you as king if he is dead because you are his son. Then and only then will there be peace. 

The elders thought that this plan was good. Absalom agreed except he would have liked to have been there to see David die. Just as he took delight in watching his brother die, so too he saw in his mind the death of his father. Still, something didn’t appear right about this. It seemed too simple. He said, Your plan is good but I want to hear what Hushai the Archite has to say. Bring him back to me and explain your plan to him. 

Ahithophel felt confident about this request and left immediately to bring Hushai to Absalom. Along the way, he spoke to Hushai and told him to affirm his plan. Hushai listened carefully and came before Absalom.

Ahithophel has a plan to decimate the army of my father. Absalom said. Once more the plan was outlined to Hushai and Absalom said, What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

The room was silent as Hushai looked at Ahithophel and then back to Absalom. In that brief moment, he prayed fervently that the Lord would help him to thwart the counsel of Ahithophel, and give him the right words to say that would bring disaster on Absalom. He was not used to public speaking but his deep resonant voice rang in each person’s ears as if it had been amplified by the Spirit of God himself. He said, “With due respect to Ahithophel, this time, I can’t agree with his advice.” 

Ahithophel’s eyes narrowed and he frowned as Hushai continued speaking directly to Absalom. You know your father and his men. They are as fierce and mighty as a bear robbed of her cubs. Your father is an expert in strategic warfare. He knows that country like the back of his hand. He won’t spend the night with the people. He has most likely hidden in a cave or in some other place suitable for an ambush. 

This is not a good way to begin your campaign; with little organisation and only 12,000 men. The whole of Israel will say that you sent these men to their slaughter. After that, it won’t matter how valiant your soldiers are. They will lose heart completely. 

Your father has a reputation for being a mighty man and those who are with him are very experienced and valiant warriors. This action will only increase his reputation and make you weak in the sight of all Israel.

My counsel is to take time to gather all the men of Israel from Dan as far as Beersheba so that you have an army which will be like the sand of the sea. They will be so abundant that you will not fail to reach your objective. Then I would suggest that you personally lead them into battle. When you find your father, you will decimate his army so completely that not one of them will remain alive. If a city opens its gates to him, then we will drag that city into the valley until not one stone is left standing. By this time, Hushai’s voice had reached a crescendo and his argument had been very convincing. He could see that Absalom was in agreement, but both he and Ahithophel were ushered out of the room before the decision was made.

Ahithophel said to Hushai on the way out, If your advice is taken then this day you have betrayed Israel! Hushai remained silent. It was amusing to him that a traitor to king David would accuse him of betrayal. He prayed fervently as he then made his way undetected by Absalom’s spies to his first rendezvous with the priests Zadok and Abiathar.

Absalom was convinced and came to the point. He said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than Ahithophel’s counsel. The elders were in agreement. Absalom would continue his celebrations while Hushai’s plans were being put into operation. It would take some days to gather his full army.

Absalom looked out at Jerusalem. It was on this same roof that David had once looked upon Bathsheba. That afternoon and in the days to come, as the wine flowed and the celebrations became raucous, David’s concubines were brought into Absalom presence. Each of them had been used like slaves serving Absalom’s men at the tables. In his drunkenness and thirst for more power over David, he brought each of them forcefully onto his rooftop balcony and sexually abused them. He wielded his dagger and threatened them with death until they were too afraid to resist. News of Absalom’s perversion spread quickly as his army was gathered from every corner of Israel. Hushai could do nothing. He thought, In broad daylight he brings shame to the family of Davidbut most of all he is bringing shame upon himself.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 67

David’s concubines were paraded before Absalom’s men as slaves and humiliated into serving them.

Absalom had called Ahithophel into his conference room with his elders. They were both intoxicated from the celebrations. But Absalom was far from satisfied. He threw his cup against the wall in frustration and said to Ahithophel, “How can I establish my authority as the new king when my coward father is not even willing to fight?” The years of bitterness demanded overt expression. I despise you, father? He looked at Ahithophel with both helplessness and hatred in his eyes, “I need your advice. Tell me what I can do next to decimate the kingdom of David?”

Ahithophel mumbled something as he observed what was happening through drunken eyes. Speaking slowly so as to make his point and with too much animation he said, “What you have done there,” He pointed to the concubines, “will have the advantage of sorting out the loyalty of your followers. If you humiliate David you will ‘make yourself strong’ in their eyes and they will have even greater resolve to establish you as David’s successor. Your reputation as one who despises anything to do with David will be quickly broadcast throughout Israel.”

In the past, the advice that Ahithophel had given had been regarded by David and Absalom to be prophetic. He was a very learned man. He knew the Word of God as given by the prophets, and studied the written documents religiously. Hushai, who stood near the door thought, How can this proud, arrogant fool apply God’s Word to his decision-making when his thinking is distorted with wine?

In his intoxicated state Ahithophel was rambling about the past. He was remembering his granddaughter, Bathsheba when he said, “When David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered my son-in-law to cover it up, Nathan the prophet came to David with a prophecy. Do you remember?”

The words of Nathan’s prophecy now rang in Ahithophel’s memory. Both Ahithophel and Absalom had been in the room as Nathan had said to king David, “This is what the Lord says: ‘From one who is very close to you I will bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes, I will take your wives and give them to one who is very close to you, and he will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but this thing will take place before all Israel.'”

Ahithophel now saw Absalom as the fulfilment of that prophecy. It all made sense. He said to Absalom, “If you really desire to make yourself offensive to your father then you will fulfil the prophecy of Nathan and establish yourself in the way of kings gone by. Make these concubines yours.”

“They are mine!” said Absalom.

“Then sleep with them and let it be known in broad daylight that you are humiliating the name of David!” He waited for his words to have effect upon Absalom. Absalom knew of this practice. His thoughts immediately went back to his childhood.

But each one of these women was old enough to be his mother. He had grown up with their children, Shammua, Shobab, Nathan and the others. I despise you all! he thought, All of you are threats to my kingdom. What better way to express my power over you, father?

A kind of perverted vengeance rose up within him. Sleeping with these women would extinguish the very seed of king David. It would make his own seed dominant and declare all that is of David to be his. He said in a whisper that could have come from Satan himself, “I have captured your kingdom and I will destroy your seed. Any children now born in this kingdom will now come through me!”

Absalom said under his breath, “Like Abner.” Ahithophel thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, like Abner.”

The incident had happened as Absalom was growing up as a young prince in David’s court. Abner had once been king Saul’s leading general in the North. He had been accused of sleeping with Rizpah, a concubine of Saul. This had sent shock waves all over Israel. Rumours were rife. It was well known that if someone wanted to indicate defiance to the king then this was the ultimate statement of rebellion. The words used to describe this were, to make yourself strong. In Absalom’s mind, it was the perfect way to express his utter contempt for his father and make himself strong in the eyes of all Israel.

Proceedings seemed to be winding up so Hushai took the opportunity to take his leave.

But Ahithophel was not finished.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties for the e-book, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 64

When Ahithophel arrived in Hebron, Absalom was already offering sacrifices. The animals had been taken from the royal flock. Absalom saw each animal as a symbol of all that he would make his father sacrifice to fulfil his own destiny. More blood is yet to be spilled.

As soon as he discovered that Absalom intended a military coup, Ahithophel pledged his allegiance. The conspiracy grew stronger. Men of Israel had only praise as they spoke of this handsome young king and they continued to spread the word about Absalom.

The trumpets blew and the crowds gathered. Some thought that David himself was announcing his son as king and that Absalom had his blessing, but for whatever reason, they began to flock to Hebron – the innocent sheep of Absalom’s sacrifice.

No-one noticed the man who returned secretly to Jerusalem to report to Hushai. Hushai warned David of the conspiracy immediately.

Not wanting any bloodshed, King David decided an immediate evacuation of the city. Hushai remained in Jerusalem waiting for further information on Ahithophel from a second messenger. He was still there when all who had chosen to follow king David left the city. Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

David wept. As he had approached the summit of the Mount of Olives, head covered and barefoot he had looked across to the city of Jerusalem and could no longer contain his tears. He spoke prophetic words that found their truest expression many years hence in the voice of the Son of David, Jesus, who stood in the same place and wept over the city.

This day it seemed that both voices, centuries apart, cried in unison, “Jerusalem, Oh, Jerusalem, who kills her prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together, the way a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate. For I say to you, from now on you shall not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

The presence of God descended upon this place of worship and all the people who were with the king covered their heads and wept also.

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

On the Mount of Olives, Ziba met David with a couple of saddled donkeys. David could not see Mephibosheth and so he had asked, “Where is your master?”

“He has decided to stay in Jerusalem, I could not convince him to come with me, my lord king. He kept saying, ‘Now that David is gone, Israel will restore my father’s kingdom to me.'” Ziba looked embarrassed. David was annoyed. I treated him well and he repays me with such disrespect.

King Saul’s son, Jonathan, had proved to be David’s most faithful, trusted and loved friend. It had been an honour to show kindness to his son, Mephibosheth. The land that belonged to king Saul was given to him and Ziba had been instructed to cultivate it. Mephibosheth ate at David’s own table.

“My lord, I have brought you some of the produce of my master’s land.” Ziba proceeded to unload the donkeys. He had brought two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred clusters of raisins, a hundred summer fruits, and a jug of wine. “The donkeys are for the kings family to ride, and the bread and summer fruit for the young men to eat. The wine is for those who become faint in the wilderness.”

Although David was disappointed with Mephibosheth, he was grateful for the supplies. “Because you have shown me kindness despite your master’s unfaithfulness to me, all that belongs to Mephibosheth is now yours.” Ziba could not believe his ears. He prostrated himself on the ground to show his gratitude and loyalty.

“Let me always find favour in your eyes, my lord, the king!”

It seemed as if Hushai had entered into a sanctuary as he walked into camp that day and made his way through the guards to David. He presented himself by prostrating himself before the king. As a sign of his grief for his king, he had torn the top section of his garments and put the dust of the road upon his head. David took him by the hand and raised him up, giving him the hug of a respected friend. Hushai said, “My lord, it has been confirmed that Ahithophel is one of the conspirators with Absalom.” David turned again towards Jerusalem and said, “O Lord, I pray, make Ahithophel’s counsel be foolishness.”

David trusted Hushai and wasted no time in giving him a special mission for the sake of intelligence. He said, “You will be of no use to me here, Hushai. Go back to Jerusalem. You must thwart the counsel of Ahithophel in whatever way you can. Be my ears. Whatever you hear from the king’s house, report it to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. Their two sons, Ahimaaz and Jonathan, will be your feet and will send me everything that you hear.”

Hushai left immediately and found another way back to Jerusalem so as not to arouse the suspicion of Absalom’s spies. He walked into Jerusalem just before Absalom arrived.


 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 63

“I believe Absalom is going to declare himself king when he arrives in Hebron”, he said to Ahithophel bluntly. Not being one to waste time, Hushai had come to Ahithophel to give his report and discuss what advice should be given to king David.

A quiet and unassuming man, Hushai went about his business largely unnoticed. He could blend in to any situation, reporting regularly to Ahithophel and sometimes to king David himself. In fact, his wisdom made him a trusted friend of David.

“The rumours are growing stronger. People are saying that Absalom is the natural choice and that he will certainly bring justice to the nation.”

Ahithophel was a little annoyed. “I am aware of the rumours but we can’t simply act on hearsay. We don’t have enough facts. The king would regard us as foolish. …Besides Absalom may well be the next king, one day.” Where do you stand Hushai? thought Ahithophel. Where are you going with this? I can’t afford to get on the wrong side of Absalom now.

Hushai was a little surprised by Ahithophel’s response. He said, “You approve of Absalom’s actions?”

“This young man has shown himself to be a man of justice. He is well liked and has developed a huge following. I think we may well be seeing our next king.” Ahithophel repeated.

Deciding to explore what Ahithophel was thinking rather than argue, Hushai said,“Perhaps you are right. But what should we tell the king about Absalom? It won’t be long before he arrives in Hebron.”

“We will tell him nothing … and continue to watch Absalom’s movements.”

Hushai said nothing more. He already had a man watching Absalom. Although he felt very uneasy about Ahithophel’s advice, he felt it wise not to pursue the topic further with a man so greatly respected by king David. They were interrupted by a messenger just as he was about to leave.

The message was from Absalom, asking if Ahithophel would join him in Hebron. Surprised, but pleased that Absalom had sent for him, Ahithophel had responded quickly, without the king’s permission to take leave. He gave Hushai orders.

“Stay in Jerusalem and be on hand should the king want assistance, but do not tell him of my whereabouts. I will personally gain knowledge of Absalom’s intentions and we will decide our next move when I return,” he said. “If Absalom is declaring himself as king, so be it. But don’t speak of this before the king yet. It’s not time.”

On numerous occasions now Ahithophel had spoken to Hushai about Absalom. He had wanted to suggest to the king that Absalom becomes a chief judge in the court but was waiting for the right moment. Since Hushai had kept silent on the issue, Ahithophel had interpreted his silence as agreement. Hushai could see that he was blinded by the strange power of persuasion that Absalom had over people.

The two hundred men who went with Absalom from Jerusalem had little idea of what Absalom’s intentions were. One man, however, stayed as close as possible to Absalom, watching every move that he made, listening to every word he could possibly hear without looking too suspicious and waiting for the right moment.

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 61

Ahithophel was on the defensive. He had deliberately stalled the report of these rumours from David until the right moment, but now he was being summoned to the court by the king because Joab had been probing into the reports concerning Absalom. He arrived at court as Joab was expressing his concerns to the king.

After the formalities, David said, “I rely your advice as my chief of intelligence, but I find there has been much talk in the kingdom suggesting I appoint Absalom as Judge of Israel. Apparently some are saying that I intend to announce Absalom as King. I intend no such thing. Why haven’t I heard you speak about this?”

“My lord, it is merely gossip. I saw no need.”

David pursued the issue. He was annoyed and said, “Give me your thoughts on this gossip.”

This was a welcome opportunity. Expressing his ideas freely but carefully, Ahithophel made a case for Absalom as Judge of Israel, showing that he had thought through the issues well, as usual. He wove his words together skilfully and ended by saying, “He certainly seems well qualified for the position…”

Joab, who had stood by with a scowl on his face could stand it no longer. He interrupted in his harsh, deep, rasping voice, “Just because he rides around on that chariot like some kind of glorified champion of the people doesn’t mean he has the ability to be the Judge of Israel.”

“Be careful with your words, Joab!” David was willing to discuss matters concerning the security of the kingdom but he would not have anyone underestimate the abilities of any of his sons, nor speak of them disrespectfully.

Joab ignored the warning and said, “This is ludicrous, my king! Absalom has already killed Amnon, his own brother! He is a dangerous young man who always gets what he wants!” Without pause Joab turned to Ahithophel and said, “Now you want him appointed as Judge of Israel! Is that your idea or his?”

David said, “Enough! You dare speak of Amnon when you have Abner on your conscience.” He had been tempted to speak further of Joab’s murder of Abner but a fleeting thought of Uriah the Hittite made him hold his tongue.

“Are you completely blind?” shouted Joab, overstepping his authority completely.

“Get out! Your insolence is not helpful!” Joab, you and I are both blinded by our past. 

When Joab was gone David turned to Ahithophel, obviously annoyed and a little embarrassed. After a time the king spoke carefully and with deliberation. “I agree with Joab,” he said. “This time I am not willing to heed your advice, Ahithophel. I will not appoint Absalom as Judge in Israel. I am amazed at your lack of discernment. You have been influenced too much by my son and by what people are saying.”

David did intend to re-instate Absalom as one of his counsellors along with his other sons, but certainly not in the high office of Judge of Israel. Solomon perhaps, but not Absalom. He said nothing of this to Ahithophel. “I want you to work alongside Absalom and give balance to his counsel, not come under his influence. It will soon be 40 years since Samuel anointed me as king. I will have some important announcements to make then. In the meantime try to bridle my son’s ambitions.”

Ahithophel was astounded. You tell me that my counsel is like that of a prophet, yet you reject it! You are being foolish, he thought. His counsel had rarely been rejected. He was unable to say anything but “Yes, my lord”. He left the court deeply offended, only to find Joab was waiting for him.

“I have nothing to say to you.” Ahithophel said as Joab stood in his way, but the imposing figure of this man gave him no choice but to pause.

“Absalom is a dangerous man, Ahithophel. You would do well to be careful.”

Ahithophel turned and walked down the steps without making a comment. Dangerous indeed. Absalom is one of the few people who has any common sense around here! he thought. Even Hushai did not seem as open as Absalom was with him. It is not of Absalom of whom I must be careful.

Ahithophel felt the final ties of allegiance to king David gradually falling away. How could you sacrifice my advice for that of Joab’s so easily, and accuse ME of a lack of discernment?

“You speak of discernment” he muttered, remembering his granddaughter, Bathsheba, and the shame of adultery that had been displayed openly like an unbandaged, festering sore when Nathan gave his now famous prophecy in court. Discernment isn’t one of your best attributes. Your immorality is now part of the history of your kingdom, giving your enemies cause to blaspheme God!

Absalom acted with justice when Amnon had raped Tamar. Amnon’s so-called murder was the will of God. Yes, I will have to be careful, but not of Absalom.

Ahithophel neglected to mention his meeting with the king to Absalom.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 60

A thin, business-like man, Ahithophel could only think of life in practical terms. He had no sense of humour and always had an opinion. He knew most of what was going on in the kingdom through David’s intelligence system, headed by a man called Hushai.

Aware of Absalom’s rise in popularity, Ahithophel thought that it was useful to associate with him. Kings and kingdoms meant little to Ahithophel but he had worked hard to get into a position of authority with David and he was gratified by his achievements. Never-the-less, he had been secretly critical of David’s actions in the past.

Why does David tolerate you, you self-righteous old fool, thought Absalom at first. Gradually he came to see Ahithophel as a man of great common sense. He was fastidious in collecting intelligence and could decipher evidence skilfully. His advice was consistently balanced and helpful, no matter how difficult the problem. His only weakness appeared to be his pride.

You are certainly a man to have on side, Absalom thought. He was careful to tell Ahithophel only the things he had wanted to hear in order to gain his friendship.

It seemed to Absalom that David had tried to fawn over Ahithophel by making him chief counsellor, but actually David respected him greatly. Although he was a very proud man, David confided in him because he saw him as a man of integrity. His ability to give wise advice was acknowledged. On a number of occasions David had said, “Ahithophel. I trust you as if you were a prophet giving me a word from the Lord.”

Secretly, Ahithophel had doubts about David’s integrity and received his praise with a measure of reserve. His doubts became stronger as he associated himself with Absalom.

One evening as they spoke, Ahithophel said absentmindedly and sarcastically, “The king has shied away from hearing cases of judgement since the time when Nathan…” He looked embarrassed, not willing to finish what he was thinking in front of the king’s son. He had stepped over the line conversational etiquette and had almost said: “…since the time when Nathan the prophet scolded him for his sin of adultery with my granddaughter.”

Absalom saw his opportunity and had finished the thought. “Yes. He has been reluctant to give judgements because his conscience seems to get in the way of his decisions. He really should appoint an independent judge. Perhaps someone like you.”

This thought took Ahithophel by surprise. He had blushed and said, “No my lord, I am not equipped for the office of a judge”, but feeling more relaxed to speak his mind, he said, “but I can’t help agreeing with you that the king would do well to consider placing someone in that role. I would still be able to give him counsel regarding matters of the kingdom while he would be free from the challenging decisions that need to be made.” Another seed planted.

Absalom had said, “Why don’t you suggest it to him? I am sure he would be more than receptive.”

Ahithophel thought for a while. Of course, he would not be so presumptuous as to mention anything of this conversation to David, but it didn’t hurt to explore the issue. “It would need to be someone who knows the needs of the people well and one who is well acquainted with and respected by the everyone. Someone who cares and who has insight and wisdom into what is happening in Israel.” thought Ahithophel.

The conversation had gone on for some time until it had become obvious to Ahithophel that David had no other choice but to appoint Absalom himself to such a position. Why didn’t this occur to me before this time. He was not surprised that many others agreed.

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration which doesn’t avoid the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 58

The plan had taken months of preparation and even before his triumphal entry back into David’s presence, Absalom knew the pathway he intended to take. Firstly he had to gain for himself a reputation as one who cared for the people. Easy enough. It may take some time, but it will be worth the effort.

His father, the king, refused to see him face to face. As he had walked home, fuming with revenge, he devised an additional strategy. It was simple but effective, and fetched the faint flicker of a smile to his otherwise dark demeanor.

Absalom went immediately to the Tent of Meeting, his long hair blowing in the breeze and a good size crowd gathered out of curiosity. They had all heard of his return and he was now a celebrity.

As he stood before the priest he asked for the razor and the kings scales to be brought. He was there to complete his Nazirite vow but so much more interested in symbolising his father’s injustice. “My banishment is at an end!” he shouted and the atmosphere was electric with cheering and well wishes.

Some of the women were crying as Absalom presented offerings as if he was presenting them to the Lord: a lamb without defect, a ewe-lamb without blemish and a ram without fault, as the law required. He saw these animals not as sacrifices but as symbols of himself. Flawless. I am the innocent victim of your injustice, father, and you will pay! “Behold, the sacrifice!” he shouted. He was handsome and without guile and the people saw him as a hero returned, and many thought he was despised unjustly by his father the king.

Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, he shaved off his hair and weighed it according to the Royal standard of king David before the people, as a measure of his humiliation. It was then burned in the fire as a sacrifice. It was a very moving event. It worked. It gave him much favour in the eyes of the people. His hair weighed about 200 shekels worth of pity by the kings own scales.

He felt like Samson, shaved of his hair and now imprisoned in his own house, blinded to the sight of his father’s favour. And like Samson, he determined to get his revenge. You will pay, father. You will pay.

Another vow was made that day. His hair began to grow again, along with his popularity, but for him, each inch represented the growing resentment he felt towards his father. He endured two full years in Jerusalem, without any contact.

Absalom took great pains to associate himself with the important people of David’s court and spent time building relationships. Ahithophel was a key target, since he was the grandfather of Bathsheba.

Although David had apologised to Ahithophel for the disgrace brought on his family through adultery with his granddaughter, Surely, you want revenge, thought Absalom, to avenge the loss of reputation. What about the murder of your son-in-law? Absalom knew he could work on these areas of hurt.

Rising early each morning, Absalom stood beside the road that led to the city gate. He was here to greet anyone who came to the city with a case to be heard by the king for judgement. Most of them knew who he was, so his attention to them in a time of need made them feel important and cared for.

Those who recognised Absalom immediately came and prostrated themselves on the ground before him. He reached down and lifted them up, hugged and kiss them in the warm greeting of an equal and a friend.

“What city are you from?” he asked, because he was only interested in those who were from Israel. If they were, he questioned them about their case and showed great interest in what they had to say. Then he added, “I can see that your claims are valid. As you are probably aware, I am a man who has been trained through the hard process of justice. If you know anything of me you will know that to be true. But my journey so far has made me well acquainted with the law. You have a very good case but I’m not sure that you will get the justice you deserve. It’s a pity that you have no advocate before the king.”

It worked each time. The man would look to him and say, “My lord, are you not able to defend me before the king?”

Absalom would laugh and then look seriously at the man. He would say, “If only what you are saying could be done. If I were appointed as judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me, and believe me, I would give him the justice he deserves.” And so the scenario had been repeated each day.

I have stolen the hearts of the men of Israel from you, father. He was seen as a man of justice and great wisdom, but also as a friend. Now the deception was almost complete.

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration which doesn’t avoid the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”