23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.
Most of us know of the death of Judas Iscariot in the New Testament Gospels. Out of remorse we read in Matthew 27:5, So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. If you look for another example of someone committing suicide by hanging, there is only one and it is our verse for today.
A few questions arise when looking at this verse. Who was Ahithophel? What was his advice that was not followed? And who was that did not follow his advice. And finally, why would that lead him to commit suicide? For some context if we look at 2 Samuel 15, this is a time of rebellion against King David by his son Absalom who sought to usurp David and make himself king.
As Absalom was building his army for the rebellion 2 Samuel 15:12 tells us, While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing. Now we know Ahithophel was a trusted advisor to David, but betrayed him to join Absalom’s rebellion. In verse 31 David is informed of Ahithophel’s betrayal, Now David had been told, “Ahithophel) is among the conspirators with Absalom.” So David prayed, “Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” David knew Ahithophel’s advice for Absalom would be good so he not only prayed his counsel would be turned into foolishness he asked Hushai the Arkite to do something for him. In verse 34 David asks him to deceive Absalom, [R]eturn to the city and say to Absalom, ‘Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. David feared Absalom following Ahithophel’s advice.
In chapter 16:23 we find out why David was so concerned about Ahithophel giving advice to Absalom, Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David) and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice. And in 17:1-3 Ahithophel gives his advice to Absalom, I would choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the kingand bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed. While Absalom liked the advice, he also asked for Hushai’s advice. Hushai suggested another plan which was accepted over Ahithophel’s advice and verse 14b tells us why, For the Lord had determined to frustrate) the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom. David’s prayer had been answered.
Now all of our questions but one has been answered, why did his advice not being followed lead Ahithophel to commit suicide? Because he believed Hushai’s advice would lead to a defeat for Absalom which it did. Without a doubt, Ahithophel was truly convinced Absalom would fail and then he along with others would be found guilty of treason as a collaborator. As such his life was surely going to be over so he hastened to put his house in order and took his own life rather than wait for execution by David.
With all of our questions answered what are we to make of Ahithophel’s suicide? For me it seems to have strong parallels to Judas’ suicide. Both were by hanging. Both betrayed their kings. And while the Old Testament does not contain any explicit evaluation of suicide there are verses that clearly indicate God does not approve, but Paul in Romans 8:38-39 shows nothing can separate us – the saved – from God’s love, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nonetheless, these two verses show God’s disapproval, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. And Ecclesiastes 7:17, Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Please keep from ever considering suicide and let me have a kind heart towards anyone considering suicide. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.RileyD, nwJRiley D. Driver – PastorCalvary Chapel of Daytonin Beavercreek