17:1-4 Ahithophel believed panic would envelop David and his followers if Absalom’s forces came upon them while the king was weary and discouraged (Ps 63). Rather than turning the battle into a civil war, Ahithophel would then strike down only the king. Ahithophel thought if David could be killed quickly, all the people would accept Absalom’s kingship.
17:5-6 Hushai probably knew Ahithophel’s proposal would succeed. He had to convince Absalom to delay in pressing the attack against David.
17:8-10 Hushai cited David’s military genius. The king would anticipate Absalom’s quick strike and hence would not spend the night with the people but would hide in one of the many caves (or pits or ravines) on the northern edge of the Dead Sea. Further, any news of a setback among the people who followed Absalom could lead to popular support swinging back to David again.
17:11 From Dan to Beer-sheba was a distance of 110 miles. The two cities basically served as the northern and southern points of Israel, so Hushai is calling for a nationwide muster. Hushai’s proposal was much more extensive and time-consuming, giving David and his forces time to regroup.
17:12-13 Hushai suggested that David and the men with him should die—well beyond what Ahithophel had proposed. This strategy might appeal to Absalom’s vengeful pride.
17:16 Having received some escape time through Hushai’s counsel to Absalom, David’s forces needed to put distance between themselves and Absalom’s forces as quickly as possible. Of course, if Absalom decided to follow Ahithophel’s advice after all, Hushai’s advice to David was all the more urgent.
17:17 En-rogel was a spring in the Kidron Valley about one-fourth of a mile from Jerusalem where the Kidron and Hinnom valleys met.
17:19 The woman scattered grain to make it look like the cover had not been recently disturbed.
17:20 Absalom’s servants must have received word that Ahimaaz and Jonathan had gone to or toward Bahurim.
17:23 Ahithophel knew that since his advice had not been followed, David would regain the throne. And when David was reestablished, Ahithophel would be considered a traitor. Thus he committed suicide.
17:24 Mahanaim was more than thirty miles from Jerusalem. So David and his men may have been about twenty miles from Absalom when he crossed the Jordan.
17:28-29 These men of influence knew about David’s quick flight from Jerusalem, and they brought him food and supplies. These provisions restored the bodies and spirits of the king’s group.