2 Samuel 17

Listen to 2 Samuel 17

Hushai Saves David

1 Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, "Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight.
2 I will come upon him while he is 1weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. 2I will strike down only the king,
3 and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man,[a] and all the people will be at peace."
4 And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel.
5 Then Absalom said, "Call 3Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say."
6 And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, "Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he says? If not, you speak."
7 Then Hushai said to Absalom, "This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good."
8 Hushai said, "You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged,[b]4like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people.
9 Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place. And as soon as some of the people fall[c] at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, 'There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.'
10 Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly 5melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men.
11 But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, 6from Dan to Beersheba, 7as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person.
12 So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left.
13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there."
14 And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, "The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel."8For the LORD had ordained[d] to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom.
15 9Then Hushai said to Zadok and Abiathar the priests, "Thus and so did Ahithophel counsel Absalom and the elders of Israel, and thus and so have I counseled.
16 Now therefore send quickly and tell David, 'Do not stay tonight at 10the fords of the wilderness, but by all means pass over, lest the king and all the people who are with him be 11swallowed up.'"
17 Now 12Jonathan and Ahimaaz were waiting at 13En-rogel. A female servant was to go and tell them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they were not to be seen entering the city.
18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So both of them went away quickly and came to the house of a man at 14Bahurim, who had a well in his courtyard. And they went down into it.
19 15And the woman took and spread a covering over the well's mouth and scattered grain on it, and nothing was known of it.
20 When Absalom's servants came to the woman at the house, they said, "Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?" And the woman said to them, "They have gone over the brook[e] of water." And when they had sought and could not find them, they returned to Jerusalem.
21 After they had gone, the men came up out of the well, and went and told King David. They said to David, 16"Arise, and go quickly over the water, for thus and so has Ahithophel counseled against you."
22 Then David arose, and all the people who were with him, and they crossed the Jordan. By daybreak not one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.
23 When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to 17his own city. He 18set his house in order and 19hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father.
24 Then David came to 20Mahanaim. And Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel.
25 Now Absalom had set 21Amasa over the army instead of Joab. Amasa was the son of a man named Ithra the Ishmaelite,[f] who had married Abigal the daughter of 22Nahash, sister of Zeruiah, Joab's mother.
26 And Israel and Absalom encamped in the land of Gilead.
27 When David came to Mahanaim, 23Shobi the son of Nahash from 24Rabbah of the Ammonites, and 25Machir the son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and 26Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim,
28 brought beds, basins, and earthen vessels, wheat, barley, flour, parched grain, beans and lentils,[g]
29 honey and curds and sheep and cheese from the herd, for David and the people with him to eat, for they said, "The people are hungry and 27weary and thirsty 28in the wilderness."

2 Samuel 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

Ahithophel's counsel overthrown. (1-21) He hangs himself, Absalom pursues David. (22-29)

Verses 1-21 Here was a wonderful effect of Divine Providence blinding Absalom's mind and influencing his heart, that he could not rest in Ahithophel's counsel, and that he should desire Hushai's advice. But there is no contending with that God who can arm a man against himself, and destroy him by his own mistakes and passions. Ahithophel's former counsel was followed, for God intended to correct David; but his latter counsel was not followed, for God meant not to destroy him. He can overrule all counsels. Whatever wisdom or help any man employs or affords, the success is from God alone, who will not let his people perish.

Verses 22-29 Ahithophel hanged himself for vexation that his counsel was not followed. That will break a proud man's heart which will not break a humble man's sleep. He thought himself in danger, concluding, that, because his counsel was not followed, Absalom's cause would fail; and to prevent a possible public execution, he does justice upon himself. Thus the breath is stopped, and the head laid low, from which nothing could be expected but mischief. Absalom chased his father. But observe how God sometimes makes up to his people that comfort from strangers, which they are disappointed of in their own families. Our King needs not our help; but he assures us, that what we do for the least of his brethren, who are sick, poor, and destitute, shall be accepted and recompensed as if done to himself

Cross References 28

  • 1. 2 Samuel 16:14; [Deuteronomy 25:18]
  • 2. [1 Kings 22:31]
  • 3. 2 Samuel 16:16-18
  • 4. Proverbs 17:12; Hosea 13:8
  • 5. See Joshua 2:11
  • 6. See 2 Samuel 3:10
  • 7. See Genesis 22:17
  • 8. 2 Samuel 15:31, 34
  • 9. 2 Samuel 15:35, 36
  • 10. 2 Samuel 15:28
  • 11. 2 Samuel 20:19
  • 12. 2 Samuel 15:27, 36
  • 13. Joshua 15:7; Joshua 18:16
  • 14. See 2 Samuel 3:16
  • 15. [Joshua 2:6]
  • 16. ver. 15, 16
  • 17. 2 Samuel 15:12
  • 18. [2 Kings 20:1]
  • 19. [Matthew 27:5]
  • 20. See Joshua 13:26
  • 21. 2 Samuel 19:13; 2 Samuel 20:9, 12; 1 Kings 2:5, 32
  • 22. [1 Chronicles 2:13, 16]
  • 23. [2 Samuel 10:1, 2]
  • 24. 2 Samuel 12:26, 29
  • 25. 2 Samuel 9:4
  • 26. 2 Samuel 19:31, 32; 1 Kings 2:7; [Ezra 2:61]
  • 27. 2 Samuel 16:2
  • 28. 2 Samuel 15:23

Footnotes 7

  • [a]. Septuagint; Hebrew back to you. Like the return of the whole is the man whom you seek
  • [b]. Hebrew bitter of soul
  • [c]. Or And as he falls on them
  • [d]. Hebrew commanded
  • [e]. The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
  • [f]. Compare 1 Chronicles 2:17; Hebrew Israelite
  • [g]. Hebrew adds and parched grain

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates the advice Ahithophel gave to march out speedily with a number of men in pursuit of David, which at first seemed agreeable, 2Sa 17:1-4; but Hushai's opinion being asked, and he giving counsel to raise a larger army, which required time, and was taken to, hereby the counsel of Ahithophel was defeated, 2Sa 17:5-14; upon which he hanged himself, 2Sa 17:23; these different counsels being communicated by Hushai to the priests, they found means to transmit them to David, with an instruction to him to pass over Jordan immediately; which he did, and pitched in Gilead, and whither he was followed by Absalom, 2Sa 17:15-26; and where he met with a supply of provisions for his army from some eminent persons in and near that place, 2Sa 17:27-29.

2 Samuel 17 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.