Question & Answer – Why did Ahithophel, one of David’s top counselors, turn traitor and defect to Absalom (2 Samuel 15)?
Again David was forced to recognize in his calamities the results of his own sin. The defection of Ahithophel, the ablest and most wily of political leaders, was prompted by revenge for the family disgrace involved in the wrong to Bathsheba, who was his granddaughter.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 735.
“Upon arriving at Hebron, Absalom immediately summoned Ahithophel, one of the chief counselors of David, a man in high repute for wisdom, whose opinion was thought to be as safe and wise as that of an oracle. Ahithophel joined the conspirators, and his support made the cause of Absalom appear certain of success, attracting to his standard many influential men from all parts of the land.” Ibid., 730, 731.
“Ahithophel had been held in high esteem for his wisdom, but he was destitute of the enlightenment which comes from God.” Ibid., 739.
“Ahithophel urged upon Absalom the necessity of immediate action against David. … This plan was approved by the king’s counselors. Had it been followed, David would surely have been slain, unless the Lord had directly interposed to save him. But a wisdom higher than that of the renowned Ahithophel was directing events. …
“… Hushai (sent by David as a spy) saw that if the proposed plan were followed, David would be lost. And he said, ‘The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time’ (2 Samuel 17:7) … He suggested a plan attractive to a vain and selfish nature, fond of the show of power. … ‘And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel’ (verse 14). But there was one who was not deceived—one who clearly foresaw the result of this fatal mistake of Absalom’s.
“Ahithophel knew that the cause of the rebels was lost. And he knew that whatever might be the fate of the prince, there was no hope for the counselor who had instigated his greatest crimes. Ahithophel had encouraged Absalom in rebellion; he had counseled him to the most abominable wickedness, to the dishonor of his father; he had advised the slaying of David and had planned its accomplishment; he had cut off the last possibility of his own reconciliation with the king; and now another was preferred before him, even by Absalom.
“Jealous, angry, and desperate, Ahithophel ‘gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died’ (verse 23). Such was the result of the wisdom of one, who, with all his high endowments, did not make God his counselor.” Conflict and Courage, 183.