2 Samuel 16:15-17:23 – Advisors Battle


2 Samuel 16:15-17:23


Ahithophel, who supported Absalom, and Hushai, who secretly supported David, give conflicting advice to Absalom on how to secure his position and how to pursue David. Absalom chooses to follow Hushai’s misleading advice, which costs him the opportunity to apprehend a fleeing David.


Battling advisors is a classic tale type, where one advisor gives good advice, and another advisor intentionally gives advice that will hamper the monarch’s goals. Here, Hushai professes loyalty to Absalom, but secretly works to give David time to escape and raise an army to retake the kingdom. Had Absalom followed the advice of Ahithophel, they would have surrounded David’s men and secured the kingdom. But God ordains the people to listen to Hushai instead. 

The issue of advisors giving conflicting wisdom will return shortly to David’s family. His grandson, Rehoboam, will listen to foolish young men instead of his seasoned advisors. Like Absalom here, following the wrong advisor would cost Rehoboam his kingdom, though not his life (1 Kings 12). Much of the rest of the royal history cycle will be about kings who take good advice (Hezekiah and Josiah, among them) and most of the rest, who do not.