At one point during David’s reign he and his administration actually had to flee Jerusalem (2 Sam. 15-18). Absalom, David’s son, had built up an army and was bent on taking the throne for himself. So David thought it best to leave the city. But David did appoint a spy to gather information from Absalom’s administration. The spy’s name was Hushai. At one point, Absalom listened to Hushai’s advice rather than the famous advisor Ahithophel’s advice (2 Sam. 17). It’s quite the story!
One question arises: why would Absalom listen to Hushai rather than the trusted Ahithophel? If you read the story it does cross your mind. But the narrator gives us a hint in 2 Samuel 17:14b: “The Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom” (NIV). In fact, not long before this David prayed that God would frustrate Ahithophel’s counsel (2 Sam. 15:31b). Again, it’s quite the story!
I like how Dale Davis comments on 2 Samuel 17:14b:
Hushai’s mix of apparent reason and graphic imagery works its magic. Absalom & Co. issue a revised decision: ‘The counsel of Hushai the Arkite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel’ (v. 14a; see v. 4). Hushai’s finesse, however, cannot account for this reversal. There is a secret behind it, and the writer shares it in verse 14b:
“Now Yahweh had ordained to nullify the good counsel of Ahithophel, in order that Yahweh might bring disaster upon Absalom.”
That is the explanation for the whole story, for all this which has occurred so naturally, so humanly, so freely. Yahweh had ordained it. That may raise some questions for you. But remember: Yahweh’s sovereignty is not meant to give you philosophical problems but spiritual comfort. And the primary characteristic of his sovereignty in this passage is its hiddenness. There are no trumpets, no turmoil, no billboards or bumper stickers. No glitzy, frenetic commercials like car dealers blast out on television. Only this quiet text, this discreet aside (v. 14b). The plot against Yahweh’s king has gone to pot. Why? Yahweh had ordained it.
More often than not that is the manner of God’s work. His sceptre is unseen, his sovereignty hidden behind the conversations and decisions and activities and crises of our lives. We see only grocery lines and diaper changes and school assignments; but through and over and behind it all Yahweh rules. He is not absent but neither is he obvious.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015