King David’s relationship with his son Absalom, had been strained for several years, after Absalom killed his half brother Amnon (2 Samuel 13). And now, in 2 Samuel 15, we find David and a large group of loyal followers leaving Jerusalem when the king receives word that his son has launched a rebellion and is on his way to the city to overtake the throne. Once again David is running for his life, this time from his own child (2 Samuel 15-18).
After Absalom arrives in Jerusalem and discovers his father is gone, Absalom begins to plot how to find and kill him. One of David’s trusted advisors, Hushai, has stayed behind under the pretense of switching allegiance to Absalom, but undercover, he is relaying Absalom’s intentions and actions as they unfold, to David, by messenger.
Ahithophel, Absalom’s top chosen advisor, recommends rallying troops to go after David immediately, but after Absalom listens to Hushai’s counsel, he decides to follow his plan instead. After all, Hushai has been a close and trusted friend of King David and would have knowledge of the King that no one else does and Absalom, at this point, has no indication to distrust Hushai’s intentions.
Behind the scene, God is using Hushai to reverse Ahithophel’s strategy (which actually was the best one for defeating David) to bring disaster down on King David’s rebellious son, Absalom.
How it all ends is not the most important point of this drama. Let’s spotlight on this scripture for a minute – 2 Samuel 17:23:
“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.”(NLT)
Wow! When I read this I had to stop and consider, how many times in my own life, would I rather been dead than have my opinion rejected, ignored, overlooked? Maybe not literally dead, but the, “You don’t like what I believe or say so I’m going to pack myself up and cut myself off from you and anyone else who does not value what I think,” kind of dead.
This mindset is a growing norm in our society. People are polarizing around issues of government, politics, religion, ethics, morals, lifestyles and behavior. Everyone wants to be heard, be right, and all who disagree, on either side of the divide, are considered intolerant, hateful and narrow minded. It’s an all out, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” continuous brawl!
Many years ago, Mike went to visit a church member who was in a mental ward. As this guy shared his plight, he confessed there were things in his past he couldn’t let go of because he was right and “those people” were wrong. Mike asked him, “Would you rather get out of here or be right?” The man’s reply was, “I’d rather be right.” That man could still be in that psyche ward; maybe he died in there for all we know. Sometimes there’s a high price for always needing to be right.
Back in the narrative of 2 Samuel – Absalom thought he had a right to the crown but he died in the war that ensued as he tried to escape from some of David’s men that came upon him. They found Absalom hanging by his long, thick hair that tangled in a fat tree branch after his mule kept going and left him dangling there. And his big-ego counselor, Ahithophel, needed to be right so much, that he hanged himself all because his opinion went unheeded!
The only one really in the right here was David, who had already learned the hard way that being so is not more important than being king, being cast from God’s presence or falling out of relationship with a son or friend. Just a read through the Psalms of David allows us to see how he experienced the lessons of pride, humility, exaltation, brokenness, reliance upon self or trust in God.
Jesus laid down his rights to be right and died for us. Before doing so, He told us to love one another as He loved us (1 John 3:16). That’s a colossal assignment
When being right and having the last word becomes more important than relationships with people, God, or living a life of peace and contentment, serious trouble is brewing.
Don’t get ‘hung up’ on always being right. I’m painfully and slowly learning it’s better to humbly die to self, than be dead right; cut off from the Spirit of God in my life and those I am called to love and serve!
That’s way too great a price and one I’m not willing to pay, anymore.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite [humble] spirit.
Philippians 2:3-8 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
John 10:17-18 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life…No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.