What caused Ahithophel to suddenly turn traitor on his best friend?
It seems difficult to understand how this close friend and confidante of David could turn a traitor. But a study of God’s Word reveals some enlightening information.
There is always a reason that people develop a bitter spirit. It may have been an abuse, a mistreatment or an unrequited love. There can be many reasons.
We discover Ahithophel had a reason. We read in 2 Samuel 11:3 “And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
Knowing who Eliam is will be key to understanding this very sad turn of events. In 2 Samuel 23, we see a list of David’s mighty men. Observe the mighty man listed in the last part of 2 Samuel 23:34: “…Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite.”
Ahithophel is Bathsheba’s grandfather! His family was devastated by this act of David the king.
This adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah by David was despicable to the extreme. Ahithophel was furious. Uriah was in the grave; his lovely Bathsheba had been seduced. Incensed, Ahithophel left David, saddled his donkey and went back to his home in Giloh.
What a blow it had to be to learn of David’s betrayal of him and his family. Ahithophel had served with honor and distinction, had given his son to the fight, and had even given his son-in-law as well (for Uriah was one of the mighty men of David too).
The subsequent story of David's bitter repentance only hardened Ahithophel's heart. Could tears bring back the dead Uriah? Could tears remove the stain from the soul of a seduced girl? Never!
Ten years later when Ahithophel heard of Absalom's treachery, he saw this as an opportunity to get even.
Absalom knew that Ahitophel harbored this bitterness and so we read in 2 Samuel 15: 2, "And Absalom sent for Ahithophel . . . to come from Giloh. And the conspiracy was strong”.
And in 2 Samuel 16:20 we read that he now became Absalom’s counselor: “Then said Absalom to Ahithophel, “Give us your advice. What should we do?”
Jay Adams mentions that there are two wrong responses to someone’s wrong actions against you. Either you “blow up” or you “clam up.” When people “clam up” instead of dealing with their anger, the sad reality is that they eventually will “blow up” later. This is likely what happened to Ahithophel.
Ten years he waited. This bitterness grew inside of him like a cancerous growth and eventually killed him.
Ahithophel made an unforgivable error of judgment in the hope of extracting vengeance on David for the seduction of Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah. He should not have allowed bitterness to enter his soul.
Are you nursing a grudge against someone for many years? Don’t allow it to become a cancerous growth inside of you and kill you.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it's stored than to anything on which it is poured” - Mark Twain
Lord, help me never to harbor a grudge against another, for whatever wrong they may have done, because I realize it does not kill them, but it kills me. Amen