2 Samuel 17:15-29 (Part 3) – It Is A Sin But No Greater Than Any Other Sin

Posted: July 21, 2018 in 10-2 Samuel

2 Samuel 17:15-29 (Part 3 of 3)
David Escapes Through the Wilderness

It is a subject that we rarely talk about in general conversation in secular settings much less among believers in Jesus Christ. Suicide is just a subject that is not talked about generally and it is a subject that we should be talking about. After 50 or 60 years of the prevalence of moral relativism where God has been moved out of much of life by many, desperation and hopelessness and the search for the meaning of life is on the rise and, thus, so suicide is on the rise. I personally have friends who have dealt with suicide within their extended family so I do not write this blog flippantly and not without a significant amount of prayer over the past three days. I do understand the pain and suffering of those left behind in the wake of someone taking their own life. I have seen it in my two friends who lost their nephew in this way. I have along with a few of their closest friends been part of their grief process. So, this is not written without knowing or caring of its sensitivity. Having said that, let us consider today one of the issues presented by this passage – Ahithophel taking his own life.

Within the church, it is an issue that is rarely talked about even amongst believers who are close with one another and trust each other completely. But suicide is part of the landscape of a fallen world. Here are some facts. In March 2015, CBS News reported these findings:

“The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 5,178 suicide deaths among young people aged 10 to 24 in the U.S. in 2012. Suicide was the second leading cause of deaths in that age group, after accidents. The suicide rate increased for young people of both genders since 2007. And it remains three times higher for young males than young females. But the female increase has been steadier.

Suicide rates for younger people have varied over the years, with a recent upward trend starting around 2007. There were 4,320 suicide deaths in 2007; the toll was 5,264 in 2013. Suicide rates for older adults tend to be higher, in the range of 15 or 20 per 100,000. Since 2007, suicide rates have increased for older age groups, too.”

Though we do not talk about it much in both secular and Christian circles, there are several instances in the Bible where suicide occurs. There are seven accounts in the Bible of people who took their own lives. Probably the two best-known examples are:

1) Saul, who took his life to avoid the dishonor of being captured, abused, and killed (1 Samuel 31:1-4), and
2) Judas, who betrayed Jesus and then hung himself (Matthew 27:5).

Others who committed suicide are:
3) Abimelech (Judges 9:54) – to avoid the dishonor of being killed by a woman
4) Samson (Judges 16:28-31) – to defeat the Philistines who had imprisoned him
5) Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:5) – to follow his king, Saul, into death
6) Ahitophel (2 Samuel 17:23) – in defeat, when he realized his counsel was not followed
7) Zimri (1 Kings 16:18) – in defeat, to avoid capture
That brings us to the question – what if a Christ follower commits suicide? What does that mean in God’s view of that person?

It is a sad fact that some Christians have committed suicide. Adding to the tragedy is the that some believe committing suicide automatically consigns one to hell automatically. Many believe that a Christian who commits suicide will not be saved. Let’s clear that question up right now – This belief is not supported in the Bible.

Scripture teaches that, from the moment we truly believe in Christ, we are guaranteed eternal life (John 3:16). According to the Bible, Christians can know beyond any doubt that they possess eternal life (1 John 5:13). Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38–39). No “created thing” can separate a Christian from God’s love, and even a Christian who commits suicide is a “created thing”; therefore, not even suicide can separate a Christian from God’s love. Jesus died for all of our sins, and if a true Christian, in a time of spiritual attack and weakness, commits suicide, his sin is still covered by the blood of Christ.

According to the Bible, suicide is not what determines whether a person is granted entrance or is denied entrance into heaven. If an unsaved person commits suicide, he has done nothing but “expedite” his journey to hell. However, that person who committed suicide will ultimately be in hell for rejecting salvation through Christ, not because he committed suicide (see John 3:18). We should also point out, however, that no one truly knows what was happening in a person’s heart the moment he or she died. Some people have “deathbed conversions” and accept Christ in the moments before death. It is possible that a person who commits suicide could have a last-second change of heart and cry out for God’s mercy. We leave such judgments to God (1 Samuel 16:7).

Why do I speak of this hush-hush subject in today’s blog? It is in this passage. When you read through the Bible sequentially, book to book, in the order that they are presented in the Bible, there are things that you encounter that are real life issues. To avoid them is to not allow our faith to be tested on the real issues of our time. We must consider the tough issues presented in Scripture that we can display to others a true understanding of our faith. To consider them requires careful study. What does the weight of biblical evidence say about the issue. Is what I think consistent with the weight of Scripture on the subject? Is what I think consistent with the nature of God? Let’s now look at the passage where Ahithophel takes his own life.

Let’s read the passage now:

15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, what Ahithophel had said to Absalom and the elders of Israel and what he himself had advised instead. 16 “Quick!” he told them. “Find David and urge him not to stay at the shallows of the Jordan River[a] tonight. He must go across at once into the wilderness beyond. Otherwise he will die and his entire army with him.”

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz had been staying at En-rogel so as not to be seen entering and leaving the city. Arrangements had been made for a servant girl to bring them the message they were to take to King David. 18 But a boy spotted them at En-rogel, and he told Absalom about it. So they quickly escaped to Bahurim, where a man hid them down inside a well in his courtyard. 19 The man’s wife put a cloth over the top of the well and scattered grain on it to dry in the sun; so no one suspected they were there.

20 When Absalom’s men arrived, they asked her, “Have you seen Ahimaaz and Jonathan?”

The woman replied, “They were here, but they crossed over the brook.” Absalom’s men looked for them without success and returned to Jerusalem.

21 Then the two men crawled out of the well and hurried on to King David. “Quick!” they told him, “cross the Jordan tonight!” And they told him how Ahithophel had advised that he be captured and killed. 22 So David and all the people with him went across the Jordan River during the night, and they were all on the other bank before dawn.

23 When Ahithophel realized that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey, went to his hometown, set his affairs in order, and hanged himself. He died there and was buried in the family tomb.

24 David soon arrived at Mahanaim. By now, Absalom had mobilized the entire army of Israel and was leading his troops across the Jordan River. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa as commander of his army, replacing Joab, who had been commander under David. (Amasa was Joab’s cousin. His father was Jether,[b] an Ishmaelite.[c] His mother, Abigail daughter of Nahash, was the sister of Joab’s mother, Zeruiah.) 26 Absalom and the Israelite army set up camp in the land of Gilead.

27 When David arrived at Mahanaim, he was warmly greeted by Shobi son of Nahash, who came from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and by Makir son of Ammiel from Lo-debar, and by Barzillai of Gilead from Rogelim. 28 They brought sleeping mats, cooking pots, serving bowls, wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans, lentils, 29 honey, butter, sheep, goats, and cheese for David and those who were with him. For they said, “You must all be very hungry and tired and thirsty after your long march through the wilderness.”

In this passage, we must ask What’s going on here? Why would such a seemingly minor thing drive Ahithophel to such drastic action? Was he a sore loser? Was he on some kind of power hungry kick with an ego so big he couldn’t stand losing to Hushai? At first blush Ahithophel looks like the kid who because he doesn’t get to bat first quits the game & takes the ball home with him. But as we dig into his story we realize that’s not the reason for his suicide. It’s much deeper and more troubling. Ahithophel was a bitter man who threw in his lot with Absalom for one reason–to get back at David; to exact revenge. Though they’d been friends, Ahithophel now hated David and ached to destroy him. That’s why he was so eager to press the final attack personally. But when Absalom preferred the folly of Hushai’s plan to the wisdom of his counsel, he realized he’d thrown in his lot with a fool and the rebellion was doomed. So he went home, put his affairs in order, and killed himself.

Why was he so bitter? You see Ahitophel was the one person who was in the know when David committed adultery with Bathsheba. He was in the Palace, in the confidence of the King, and he was Bathsheba’s Grandfather (see 2 Samuel 11:3)! Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam whose father was Ahitophel. Here is the seed of betrayal that years later became the motivation to turn on David and join Absalom. Grandfather Ahitophel carried that grudge for years, and David never knew it.

So what can we learn from this passage as believers in today’s world? As we go through life, we’re going to be hurt & offended and get angry as a result. We must never let that anger drive us to sin, either the sin of lashing out right away – Or the more subtle sin of stuffing our anger & turning it to a hate that slowly morphs into bitterness, and provides a beachhead in our soul for the devil to work death. Before the day passes, we need to take our hurts to God for His healing touch and the grace to let go of the right and desire to get even. Ahithophel wanted to play God and take his own vengeance. And when that backfired, he then thought that David would kill him for his treachery and decided to take his own life.

We do not know Ahithophel’s relationship with God. If he was not a true believer, this sin of suicide is just piled on the top of the sins of pride, vengeance and making revenge an idol among all the other sins for which he will be condemned before God. The weight of sin evidence including the sin of suicide is what will condemn him before God not just one particular sin. Living life on unrepentant sin before God is to say to Him that you do not believe in Him and that you it your own way.

But to say that even a believer in Jesus Christ is automatically condemned to hell because of the act of suicide itself does not square with biblical authority. Sure, suicide is a form of murder, though self-inflicted, and is thus a sin but it is no different than the any sin that we commit during our earthly life. A Christ follower’s salvation is not cancelled out by this one sin. It is another of the sins that we must account for before God at our judgment day. This sin and any other sin we have committed will be on full display before the Lord on the day of our judgment. It is then that we will feel the full weight of all our sins and realize, the most that we ever have, that we truly do not deserve the grace of Jesus Christ but will be eternally joyful when Jesus says this one is mine. I have paid for all these sins by my death on the cross. He is mine. He belongs here in heaven because of me and the work that I did for him on the cross.

Suicide is not unforgiveable. The only unforgiveable sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. In the absence of Jesus Christ, any single one, just one, of our sins (including suicide) committed in our life is sufficient to condemn us to be separated from God in hell not to mention the lifetime of sins that we commit. There is no one sin that is greater than another. Our first sin condemns us and all other sins are nails in the coffin as to what we deserve. Thus, in the body of evidence of the sins of a lifetime, we have no recourse and no excuse before the Lord and thus all sins are equal in God’s eyes. To single one sin out as being more grievous and more damning than another is just not true. All sins condemn equally.

That’s the danger. The danger is dying by own hands or any other means without having proclaimed with our heart, mind, soul and lips that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. Everything else can be forgiven before the Lord if we repent of those sins before God and proclaim Jesus Christ is my Savior and Lord.

Amen and Amen.

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