Years ago there lived an advisor to a great king. The advisor and king were friends. They ate together, celebrated together, and worshipped God together. The advisor had a beautiful granddaughter, and she was married to one of the king’s mighty warriors.
One spring the army went off to war, but the king stayed behind in the safety of his palace. He believed he was too important to risk the dangers found in war. Instead he lounged around the palace and enjoyed the pleasure of his kingdom.
It was during this time of lounging that the king saw the beautiful granddaughter of his trusted friend and advisor. He sent for her, and the king took that which was not his.
When the king learned the beautiful woman was pregnant, he arranged for her husband to be killed. After a time of mourning the king brought the woman to the palace and married her. The king was confident that his sin had been hidden.
A year later a prophet made his way into the court and confronted the king with his sin. The king repented, but the consequences continued. One of those consequences was the death of his young son.
The advisor, witnessed the prophet’s confrontation with the king, and when the advisor’s great grandson died he realized the treachery of his friend. The king had dishonored the advisor’s family, took advantage of his granddaughter, and murdered her loving husband.
For eleven years the advisor let hatred and bitterness grow in his heart. He waited for a chance to take his revenge on the king. Finally the opportunity came. One of the king’s sons decided to rebel and steal the kingdom from his father.
The advisor chose to side with the son. He advised the son to dishonor his father publicly by sleeping with the king’s concubines, and the advisor urged the son to chase the king and to allow the advisor to deliver the killing blow to the man he once considered a friend. The son took the advisor’s first bit of advice, but relented from pursuing the king. Instead the son was tricked by an advisor loyal to the king. Because the old advisor knew the son would not succeed in his rebellion against his father, which meant he backed the loser, the advisor went home and hanged himself.
The advisor’s name was Ahithophel, and he was the grandfather of Bathsheba. The story of Ahithophel and his part in Absalom’s conspiracy to overthrow David is found in 2 Samuel 16-17. It is thought that David wrote Psalm 55 during this time, and verses 12-14 are believed to be a reference to Ahithophel.
It is not an enemy who taunts me‚ I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me‚ I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you‚ my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. (NLT)
Ahithophel had every right to be angry with David, but he did not seek to be reconciled to the king. Rather the advisor looked for a way to destroy the honor and the life of David. Over a period of years the hatred and bitterness consumed him, and in the end it is Ahithophel who is destroyed, not David.
When we hold on to hatred and bitterness found in our hearts we miss out on the wonderful life God has for us. We could be justified in our anger, and the other person could have really done us wrong, but our hatred harms us more than it harms them.
We need to remember that God has forgiven us of far more than the harm anyone has caused us. God has forgiven us for the part we have played in Satan’s rebellion, which has led us to sin against Him and harm His creation.
The hard and difficult path of love leads us to forgive those who have done us wrong. It is crucial that we forgive the people who have hurt our family, dishonored our name, and destroyed our possessions. Forgiveness does not seek to diminish the harm done, but rather it is living in the light of the forgiveness God shown to us.
The death of Jesus is a reminder of the forgiveness God is willing to extend to His enemies. In the face of such great love how can we hold on to the unforgiveness and bitterness of our hearts?