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Professional Suicide

Read 2 Samuel 16:20-17:23


... And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled up his donkey and returned to his home town. He put his household in order, and then hanged himself: he died, and he was buried in his father's sepulchre. (2 Sam.17:23)

Why did Ahithophel commit suicide? Why did he take it so hard when his advice was rejected?

There is an obvious comparison with Judas. Ahithophel, like Judas, betrayed the Lord's anointed. Afterwards, he was tormented with burning regrets, and could no longer live with himself.

Judas betrayed Jesus for the sake of money, while Ahithophel betrayed David for the sake of significance. Ahithophel's entire life and self-image was wrapped up in his position as chief advisor to the King. Absalom won him over by flattery, telling him that he would be Absalom's right-hand man, as Joseph was to Pharoah. Later, when Absalom became king, it became clear that he had been toying with Ahithophel. Absalom only took whatever advice suited him most, he kept asking around until he found someone who agreed with him. When Ahithophel realized this, he went into a terminal depression. The bottom of his life dropped out; all the eggs in his basket broke.

I myself, like Ahithophel, once accepted a certain position because I felt that I would have significance, influence, respect. Then, when none of these were forthcoming, I was completely broken down. I have seen other men as well who have been utterly disheartened when they felt their work was not appreciated and their abilities were not respected. A man in such a state may feel that life is no longer worth living. He bitterly regrets the choices he made which landed him there. After all, the majority of our productive waking hours are spent working. It is utterly demoralizing to think that most of one's life is being wasted.

Some bosses are like Absalom. They are warm, likeable men with winning personalities. They easily attract people to come and work for them. But once they have people in their grasp, they use them ruthlessly. They squeeze them dry, or trample on them -- however they think will best serve their own goals. They are full of themselves and their own ends. For them, people are tools for them to obtain the professional or personal success that they have sold their lives to.

When you find yourself disappointed in your work or career, when you feel you have been mislead and betrayed, contemplate the Lord's gracious purpose in allowing this to happen to you. He may be weaning you from a desire for worldly success, which was the downfall of Ahithophel, Judas, and many, many others as well -- including, most likely, the one whom you feel betrayed you. Find release by praying for your enemy, and soak your tender heart in the grateful realization that God is saving you from the same pitfall.

Prayer: Father, thank You for caring about us so much that You deny us every pernicious thing, in spite of our whining and complaining. Help us learn from our own and others' failures (1 Cor. 10:6-14). Instruct our hearts to forgive those who have afflicted us through their own lust and blind acquisitiveness; even as Jesus forgave us for affixing Him to the Cross through our lust and willful rebellion.

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Copyright © 1998 CrossPollen
Last Revised: March 20, 1999

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