Ahithophel served as King David’s counselor… until he betrayed him to join in Absalom’s rebellion, and became Absalom’s advisor.
Ahithophel was evidently more than an advisor to David, too; he was a trusted advisor… for many years! His son, Eliam, was even listed among David’s Mighty Men (2Sam. 23:34).
Ahithophel was a straight-line thinker whose suggestions were practical, efficient, and direct… seemingly everything you would want in an advisor. But, when Absalom staged his rebellious coup, Ahithophel chose to switch sides against David. He failed to consider, though, that God Himself would be working against him (2Sam. 7:14)… so his counsel came to nothing.
David sent his friend, Hushai, back to Jerusalem, to act as a mole inside Absalom’s inner circle… tricking Absalom into thinking he was giving him good advice when – all the while – he was leading him into error. Against the advice of Ahithophel, Hushai convinced Absalom not to pursue David’s fleeing forces immediately, and Absalom’s error allowed David to escape.
This rejection of Ahithophel’s counsel was to great a shame for Ahithophel to bear. He was used to his plans being followed without question. So, when his counsel was rejected by Absalom in favor of Hushai’s counsel, Ahithophel couldn’t handle it. He calmly returned home, ordered his affairs, and committed suicide by hanging himself.
Ahithophel’s life demonstrates that no one, no matter how educated or experienced, is wise enough to overcome the will of the Lord. It’s easy to get to the point where we think we know it all, and to begin to rely on ourselves to make good decisions… rather than relying on God and seeking His will.
* Good plans are not necessarily God’s plans… and God’s plans are always the best plans.
You can read Ahithophel’s story in 2Samuel 15-17.