Dear God, Fred Smith taught me something I didn’t know this week in his blog post “A Friend’s Revenge.” He taught me that Ahithoophel was likely Bathsheba’s grandfather, and the fact that Ahithophel aligned himself with Absalom in the attempted overthrow of David was possibly motivated by revenge for what David had done to Bathsheba and Uriah. What?!? How have I read that story so many times and not figured that out? I did a little research in Wikipedia (so it must be true) and it indicated that 2 Samuel 23:34 says Ahithophel was Eliam’s father, and 2 Samuel 11:3 tells us that Bathsheba’s father was named Eliam. This could have been a coincidence, but it would be an interesting vagueness for the author to leave us if the connection isn’t there.
That being said, and working from the assumption that this is true, I have a couple of thoughts.
- How did Ahithophel think this would end for Bathsheba and his great grandson Solomon? Absalom would certainly have killed Solomon, and Bathsheba would either have been killed or become Absalom’s wife/concubine. Given her age by that point, I doubt she would have been first choice for wife/concubine. So he was putting her in even more danger.
- Did he really think a kingdom run by Absalom would be better than a kingdom run by David. At that point, maybe he did. David seems to be abdicating a lot of responsibility and lying down on the job. In fact, he was in a downward spiral ever since he decided not to go go and join the troops back when he hooked up with Bathsheba. I would imagine that succession planning was so unofficial back then that he might have been just trying to figure out which way the wind was blowing and go with it.
- Again, if this is true, then it was obviously an open secret what David had done to both Bathsheba and Uriah. That means that everyone knew including Solomon, which would help to explain why he treated women the way he did as an adult. Isn’t that what kings do?
But let me spend some time on this aspect of revenge as motivation. The most remarkable people in the world are those who do not seek revenge. Dr. Martin Luther King is regarded with more reverence by most people because he was forceful in his demands for justice and equality without being vengeful. The same is true for Nelson Mandela. In fact, in the midst of all of the racial tensions right now in this country, I wonder how much we have to learn from South Africa. I literally don’t know enough to know the answer to that question, but it is certainly remarkable that when Nelson Mandela came to power, as I understand it, he did not seek revenge on those who persecuted him.
I’ve wondered a lot this week about how Jesus would be responding right now if he were here in the flesh. Would he be attending protests? Would he be posting on social media? Would he be giving interviews or making public speeches? Would he just be talking to those in his sphere of influence and loving on them? Would he be seeking out regional and national leaders to give them counsel? Would he be participating on racial equality panels? Would he be vandalizing statues and destroying businesses and burning churches? Would he be taking photos of himself with a Bible? Some of these are obvious “yes’s” and some are obvious “no’s,” but many are vague and I don’t know what he would do. But I do know that revenge would not be part of the motivating factor. After all, even as he died, he asked that you would forgive those that were killing him.
Father, help me to be an instrument of your peace. Help me to know how to forcefully join a peaceful call for action that is not laden with revenge. And please raise up leaders who will lead in this spirit. The spirit of revenge that is flowing through our country right now is painful to watch. Let mercy lead.
In Jesus’s name I pray,