My wife of 40 years moved out to a flat of her own. I in turn moved to a flat above the kitchen.
My move seems a long way from Ahithophel.
Not many people know of Ahithophel. He was a chosen advisor to David and Absalom. He was a leading Israeli thinker in David’s time. His name has disappeared down the drain hole of history.
One minute he was the trusted advisor to King David, the next he was not worth hearing and had become superfluous, his advice rejected and his opinions spurned. Ahithophel became irrelevant.
God gives us Ahithophel to show us in stark terms what happens to men when their name becomes irrelevant.
This might seem like a leap into the dark but stay with me as I explore this topic as I am battling with my irrelevance. You might in the future have to deal with it in your life. What we discover together may help you in the future.
Each of us has a name. We have a name that fixes us in place in time and space. This is a name we have when we are born.
We also have a name that is created by effort, wisdom, learning and foolishness. This name alters and changes with achievements and failures; sculpted by life, mans’ name alters as triumph and suffering do God’s work. God also gives us a name and status.
There is also a name that we take on when we enter Christ. We take on the name of Christ when we are baptised into Christ.
It is this name that ultimately counts.
Ahithophel had a name in Israel: Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who inquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice. Ahithophel’s name was firmly established and attached to the position he had as king’s advisor.
His status was due to be changed.
Ahithophel joined Absalom’s rebellion which put him against David.
David uses Hushai to help him frustrate Ahithophel’s council… but at the same time, David prayed, “LORD, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.” God determined to bring disaster on Absalom and turned Ahithophel’s good council to nonsense. Absalom disregarded Ahithophel’s advice.
The result was that Ahithophel was crushed; caught between the two he simply became irrelevant. To be rejected is bad but to be ignored is worse. To be disrespected is terrible but worse still is to be insignificant: dust on the scales, not mattering one way or the other.
Ahithophel realised that he no longer had influence at court. He was disregarded.
In the time we live in it is easy to ignore people. We do this when we read an email and don’t reply or when we look at our phone and on seeing a person’s name press, ‘cancel’. We are too busy, we make a judgment call; there are more important things… we don’t need to be disturbed, we rank the person as an outsider.
This is a form of murder, blotting out the name.
Insiders and outsiders.
Acidophil moved from being the ultimate insider to being totally on the outside.
Ahithophel’s advice was logical, rational, well ordered and well-argued. In fact, his advice was better than Hushai’s but it was rejected. Ahithophel’s advice had not suddenly got poorer. Hushai’s advice had not suddenly got better what happened is that men’s opinions had changed. In the eyes of men and God Ahithophel had lost relevance.
In that instant Ahithophel died: When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his hometown. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb. 2Sa 17:23;
What I have experienced in moving to my cosy, convenient flat is that I am out of sight, out of mind, I disturb no one and nobody disturbs me. My wife comes to pay the obligatory visit once a week, supplies me with fresh food for the coming week. She sits, listens, nods and occupies the time till it is time to go. My son who has taken over the house, comes too. He stands outside and enquires ‘do you need anything’ and then leaves. What I ask myself is wrong with that? I am lucky to be in a position of having a solid roof over my head, food in my belly and a warm dry bed to sleep in.
The problem is that I have lost a name and respect.
It no longer matters. It no longer matters when I get up, if I get up, when I go to sleep, when I eat, when I fall or when I die.
My life has reached a point where many elderly people find themselves: I remember my mother’s doctor prescribing Premarin at the age of 88. Premarin is a hormone replacement. At the age of 80 you no longer need hormone replacements. When asked why? He replied that it made her happy and it would not make any difference to her at this stage. He was patronising her. He patted her hand, smiled and told her what she wanted to hear.