Read the Bible Story: 1 Chronicles 27:33; 2 Samuel 15:13-37; 16:15-17:16
Heart of the Story: Hushai was King David’s friend. He was also a double agent—he was loyal to King David, but entered Absalom’s court as a counselor.
Back Story: When Chronicles listed King David’s royal court, Ahithophel was identified as the King’s Counselor. Hushai was simply identified as David’s friend. Some commentators asserted that “friend” was a formal court title, i.e., secretary of state. While others argued that “friend” was a simple noun. Hushai was David’s confidante and intimate companion. Hushai’s name means “quick” or “a gift of brotherhood.” This Benjaminite was both quick and closer than any brother to King David.
Story Line: When David’s son, Prince Absalom declared himself King, David fled Jerusalem with his household and close fighting men. David walked barefoot up the Mount of Olives weeping. His head was covered in grief. As he climbed, David received updates from loyal men. One update included that his chief counselor, Ahithophel, was a co-conspirator with Absalom. Immediately, David prayed that God would turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.
At the top of the Mount of Olives, Hushai met David. Hushai’s robe was torn and he had dust on his head, to demonstrate oneness with David’s grief. Although an elderly man, Hushai was determined to go into exile with King David. Ever the strategist, David had another plan for his friend. David asked Hushai to return to Jerusalem, join Absalom’s court, and thwart Ahithophel’s advice. While in the royal palace, Hushai could hear Absalom’s plans and relay them to David through couriers.
Pondering Relationships: When Hushai walked into Absalom’s court and cried “Long live the king,” Absalom challenged him, saying “Is this the love your show your friend? Why didn’t you go with your friend?” (2 Samual16:17 NIV). Hushai assured Absalom that his loyalty and service was to the king of Israel, not to a man. Apparently, Absalom believed Hushai.
Shortly afterward, Absalom asked Ahithophel and Israel’s elders what should be done about David. Ahithophel volunteered to lead an elite cadre of 12,000 men to attack David immediately, while David was weary and weak. Then, Ahithophel would return the remainder of the royal household to Jerusalem.
Absalom wasn’t satisfied with Ahithophel’s strategy. Perhaps, Absalom feared that if Ahithophel killed David, Ahithophel’s would usurp his powerbase, which was still shaky. King Absalom summoned Hushai and asked his advice. After hearing Ahithophel’s plan, Hushai said that it would fail for two reasons. First, Ahithophel wouldn’t find David. David was canny enough not to spend nights with his men. Second, David’s fighters were seasoned. Absalom’s 12,000 soldiers would be slaughters by David’s men. Hushai pointed out that if Israelite soldiers heard that Absalom’s troops were decimated, they would fear David and his brave fighters.
Hushai proposed an alternative plan: that King Absalom recruit men from all Israelite tribes and Absalom lead the soldiers into battle against David. Absalom and Israel’s elders preferred Hushai’s plan. It maintained King Absalom’s position as leader of the army, and allowed each of the 12 tribes of Israel to have a part in the campaign against David.
Two important events occurred immediately after Absalom accepted Hushai’s advice. First, Hushai sent word to David about Absalom’s plan. He advised David to cross to the east side of the Jordan River, where he would be safer. Second, Ahithophel went home, put his house in order, and hung himself. Ahithophel realized that Hushai’s plan gave David time to consolidate his fighting force. He knew David would regain the throne of Israel, and kill him for his part in Absalom’s conspiracy.
Reflection: The role Hushai played to protect and restore David to Israel’s throne can’t be over-estimated. How would you describe and evaluate Hushai’s friendship to King David?
Hushi was David’s embedded spy and counter agent in Absalom’s court. To learn about other intrigues and intriguing figures in the Bible you can purchase Lesser Known Bible Characters at http://CarolynRothMinistry.com/
Copyright: May 4, 2015; Carolyn A. Roth