Date: January 29, 2019 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Eight
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Have you ever known that feeling of shock, dismay, anger and puzzlement? You asked, “What happened? We were friends. Why would they do this?” Today we are going to study someone in the Bible who was betrayed by a friend. It is one of the deepest hurts you can feel. Why is that? When you have been betrayed by a friend, you have had a relationship with someone, trusted them, confided in them, and walked along beside them. You thought you knew what they were like and what they would do. Maybe you even tried to help them a lot or made sacrifices to help them. Maybe you did everything you could to help them and then they turned on you. It is a very hard and very sad thing, but it can happen to anyone at any age.
(Look at these pictures: There is a man who has been betrayed and devastated. There is a young woman who was betrayed and she does not know what to do. One of the hardest situations is when you have lived a lot of years and you ask, “How could this happen?” It can happen to anyone. Look at the young man who has been betrayed. It can happen to children. It can happen to anyone.)
Where does betrayal occur? It happens where you live, where you work, where you walk, and with people you know. It can happen in your marriage. It can happen a lot in your job because people may not care who they step over to get to where they are going. They might use you for awhile and then at the right moment, they will drop you. That is a story throughout the Bible. This one particular story is really sad. What is the background and who am I talking about? I am talking about a man named Ahithophel. He was the trusted adviser of King David. He was an older gentleman. He had a lot of wisdom. He made a really bad mistake. He betrayed David.
What was Ahithophel like? The Message Bible says, “The counsel that Ahithophel gave in those days was treated as if God himself had spoken.” That was the reputation of Ahithophel’s counsel to David. When he betrayed David, it was the same counsel that he had with Absalom, David’s son. Absalom had a lot of problems. David never corrected his children. David did a lot of wonderful things. We would not have the Psalms without King David. We would not know how to have intimacy with God without the beautiful words of the Psalms. David was a mighty warrior who did great things. He defeated God’s enemies and was a man after God’s own heart, but he made a serious mistake with Bathsheba. He had an affair with her. She got pregnant and had these children. He did not discipline his children. Maybe it was because he felt guilty over what he had done, but we do not know that for sure. His son, Absalom was very handsome and he had rebellion. The Bible says in Proverbs “Rebellion is bound up in the heart of a child” and you have to discipline it out of them. If you do not discipline your children while they are young, they will break your heart when they are old. In Proverbs, you get wisdom for raising children. There are 31 chapters of Proverbs and 31 days in the month. Whatever the day of the month is, read that chapter of Proverbs. You will get wisdom for how to raise your children, and you will get a lot of wisdom for your whole life and a lot of common sense because God is so wise. David did not pay attention to what God taught in this one area and it brought him so much heartache.
Absalom wanted to be the king. Solomon was chosen by God to be the king. He was the next king, but Absalom wanted to be the king. He was determined to do it and he came up with a plan. He was a schemer and conniver. Besides being rebellious, he was deceitful. The Bible says Absalom would go and sit by the gate. When people would come in to bring their request to the king, Absalom would tell them to tell him about it. Then he would say “If I were a judge and if I were in charge I would certainly help you.” Then when the person would bow low before Absalom, he would reach out and take his hand and kiss it and say “You are my friend.” The Bible says “He stole the hearts of the people away from David.” That is betrayal, too. That is betrayal by your child. How bitter that must be.
Who was Ahithophel? He was from an area called Gilo. He was one of David’s most intimate and trusted friends. Why did David trust him so much? Because he was so wise and when he spoke it sounded like God speaking. People can be like that. They can really be wise and speak for God, but their hearts can be turned away from the truth and from what is right. You have to always have discernment going on.
Why did Ahithophel depart from David? You will be surprised to know. I was very surprised when I began to study this and I thought “No one has ever preached this in a sermon. Why don’t we ever hear about this?” Ahithophel had a son named Eliam and Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba. Did you ever wonder how David knew about Bathsheba? Did you think she was just a beautiful woman walking around and he happened to see her one night when she was taking a bath? She was the granddaughter of his most trusted advisor and the daughter of one of his mighty men. She was not a stranger. She was someone who had been seen around the palace. It was not a random occurrence. The chapters leading up to the chapters II Samuel 15 and 16 tell about David’s affair with Bathsheba. That is probably what made Ahithophel leave David and go with Absalom. It could have been bitterness, disgust or anger. He might have thought, “You have messed our family up so much, and I admired you and trusted you so much. I honored and helped you; and look what you have done.”
But Ahithophel betrayed David. You can see what doing the wrong thing brings about. See how sin can cause so many problems. Ahithophel went over on the side of Absalom. When David found out about it, he was broken hearted. You will remember that David repented about Bathsheba and God forgave him. He did have some seeds to sow from it; you always do. God had forgiven him and he was walking with God again. Yet, his enemies were coming after him right and left, trying to destroy him and to take the kingdom. One of them was his own son. David loved his son and he loved Ahithophel because they had been through so much together. However, Ahithophel went on the side of Absalom, the enemy to God’s work and God’s plan. He was a man who spoke and it sounded like God Himself talking. That means he listened to God and he had wisdom, but he did not this time. He went the way of Absalom. He did not go God’s way and it really caused the camp to break up. Actually, it cost Ahithophel his life.
This betrayal was increasing behind David’s back. He really did not know it was going on, and all the while it was increasing and getting bigger and bigger. It says in II Samuel 15:12, “While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel, the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Gilo, his home town. So the conspiracy gained strength and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.” The pressure on David’s life and kingdom was intense and when he was told “Your friend has betrayed you” it wiped him out. In II Samuel 15:13 and then in verse 30, the Bible says “A messenger came and told David ‘The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom’” and David had to leave. He was told he had to leave and go where it was safe because they could try to kill him. David and the people that were with him left devastated. It says “The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by going with David.” Think about how that sounded. The whole countryside wept aloud. “David continued up to the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went.” He was brokenhearted and betrayed by his trusted friend and betrayed by his son. “His head was covered and he went barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads, too, and they were weeping.” It was one of the saddest days in the life of Israel. II Samuel 15:31 also talks about it. “Now David had been told ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” He was betrayed by two people that were close to him and they were in the betrayal together. This was just a really bad day for David.
Have you ever been through anything like that? I have and I was just shocked. I thought the person was my friend. I thought I was helping her and she was helping me and that we were working together. However, all of that time, behind my back, really bad and horrifying things were being done. I had no idea because the friend smiled and said all the things she thought I wanted to hear. I was not aware that it was going on. Sometimes when betrayal occurs, you can look back later and wonder why you did not pick up on it. You did not because it was hidden and there is no way you can know until God brings it to light. Why is it so bad when this happens to you and how does it feel? You feel disillusionment. You had trusted that person and you felt safe with them and you were open. If you are not careful, the betrayal can hurt so much that you might say “I will never trust anyone again.” That is making an inner vow that will hurt you. It does not help you to say that. There are people who can be trusted. They will stand by you no matter what, the same as you will stand by them. You have to be able to trust people. You cannot live in this world by yourself. John Dunn said “No man is an island.” You have to trust people. You also have to learn that sometimes people can fool you and you have to gain wisdom from what happened and what you learned. You cannot get anything done by yourself so you will have to be able to trust people. You can ask God “Can I trust this person, Lord? Please let me know.”
What is another thing that is so bad about this happening to you? You need to have people to talk to. You need to be able to be free and open with people and share your secrets, your plans and your dreams. Everyone needs to be able to do that. You do not have all of the wisdom in the world; no one does. You have to look for wise people who can advise you. The Bible says “There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.” You will remember that Ahithophel was a counselor. God says there is wisdom in being a counselor. Nathan, the prophet, who was David’s prophet and his counselor, was totally trustworthy. When David messed up with Bathsheba, Nathan came in and told him the story about the sheep and how God knew what he was doing. That is a good friend. Maybe you thought that someone felt the same way about you and they were going to be as loyal to you as you were going to be to them. When this happened to me, I was devastated, completely wiped out for weeks. I did not get over it in one day. I could not quit thinking about it and then I would find out more and more as everything came to light and I would be shocked all over again. I really did want to say “I am not helping anyone.”
God, who is so faithful to us, did an amazing thing for me in that situation. You never know when God is going to step in and do something to help you in a situation like that. What did God do for me? I was sitting at my kitchen table. I was so disillusioned and hurt, so devastated. The phone range and the lady calling said “Betty, this is so-and-so. Do you even remember me? I probably haven’t talked to you in about 25 years.” I was so down that I just said “Yeah I remember you.” Normally I would be very enthusiastic and cheerful, but I was not. She said “I was driving down the street and for some reason your name came to my mind. I felt an urge to call you and tell you that 25 years ago you helped me find God. You helped me start reading the Bible. I just felt led to call you today and tell you it is 25 years later and I am still reading the Bible every day. You really did help me.” I said “Yeah. Well, I just had someone I tried to do the same thing for that betrayed me.” She said, “Then maybe that is why God had me call you, to tell you it was real and it worked and I am sticking with it.”
How did David handle this betrayal? Remember he was weeping. There is nothing wrong with crying about it, grieving and being sad over it. In II Samuel 15:31, David turned to the Lord immediately. That is what you do. That is what I did. Go to God and ask “Oh God, tell me what to do.” When David had been told that Ahithophel was a counselor with Absalom, he prayed and said, “Lord, turn Absalom’s counsel into foolishness.” David was a very wise man. That is a very strong prayer. “Take what he says to Absalom and turn it into foolishness.” He knew he could give Absalom very wise advice. The thing David did was to recognize who was still around him, who was loyal and trustworthy. He started looking around and said, “Who can I trust?” He discovered he could trust two men, Zadok and Abiathar. They were priests. David began to talk to them and ask them to help him. He said, “Help me to know what to do.” Then David had to recognize who would be a burden to him in all of this. David had to think quickly and make decisions about what needed to be done and decide who needed to be with him and who did not need to be with him. He had to determine who can give him advice and who can help me in other ways. David had to do all of this because his life was in danger. Who was a burden to David? David said to Hushai, the Archite, “If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. But, if you return to the city and you say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, oh king. I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,’ then you could help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice that he is going to give Absalom. Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace.”
God began to intervene helping David in many ways. David could not do anything about it because he was running for his life. Meanwhile, Ahithophel did some so wrong in betraying his friend. He thought, “He did that with my granddaughter and now his son is going to be the king. I am going to save myself and go with who I think is going to win.” Hushai went to Absalom and said “Long live the king.” Absalom said “Is this the love you show to your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” Hushai said “No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people and by all the men of Israel, I will be his and I will remain with him. Furthermore, whom should I serve? Shouldn’t I serve the son? I served the father and I will serve you.” Absalom turned to Ahithophel, the betrayer, and said “Give us your advice.” Absalom got very good advice from Ahithophel. He told him to do a horrible thing, but it was wise advice for how to defeat David.
Ahithophel gave this advice, “Pitch a tent, have sexual relations in front of everyone in that tent so they know you are sleeping with the king’s wives. Then I would choose 12,000 men and set out tonight in the pursuit of David. I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror and then all the people with him would flee. Then I would strike down the king and I would bring all of the people back to you. The death of the man you seek would be the return of all and all of the people would be unharmed.” That was wisdom and the plan seemed good to Absalom and all the elders. Then Absalom said “Summon Hushai, the Archite.” That was God intervening. David had no control, but God had control. Absalom said “What do you say? Ahithophel has given his advice. Give us your opinion.” Hushai said “The advice Ahithophel has given you is not good this time. You know your father and his men. They are fighters. They fight like bears, they are wild. Your father is an experienced fighter. He will not stay with the troops. He will hide in a cave or some other place.” Absalom took his advice and they all said “Hushai’s advice is better than Ahithophel.” Really, Ahithophel’s advice was the best advice. The Bible says “The Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.” He was not going to let Absalom become the king. Solomon was supposed to become the king.
What was the outcome of all of this betrayal by Ahithophel? He committed suicide by hanging himself. He knew his advice had not been followed and that he would have to suffer the consequences of David and the rebellion. In II 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 home town. He put his house in order and he hanged himself.” What a sad end. David wrote a Psalm about it that you can read when you feel betrayed. It will describe exactly how you felt. I read that Psalm when it happened to me. I did not know the background of Ahithophel and all of his betrayal for maybe three or four years after that. God intervened by having the lady call me and led me to Psalm 55. What did David say there? “It is not an enemy who taunts me. I could bear that. It is not my foes who have so arrogantly insulted me. I could have hidden from them. Instead it is you, my equal, my companion, my close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God.” Then he says “Let everything bad happen to them God, for evil makes its home within them. But, I will call on the Lord and the Lord will rescue me. Morning, noon and night, I will cry out in my distress and the Lord hears my voice and keeps me safe.”
It may not be easy to get over, but you can get over it. You can go on to trust people. There are many, many good people out there and you need to trust them. You need to trust the Lord. That verse says “Give your burdens to the Lord.” Ask Jesus into your heart to be your Lord and Savior. Your life will change.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Who is the main person in this lesson?
2. Briefly describe what they did for God.
3. What scripture about this person is meaningful to you and why?
4. In what ways do you find yourself relating to this person or their experience?
5. How does this lesson influence your thoughts about God or the way you walk out your beliefs?
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Topics: People of the Bible Speak