Today’s reading:  2 Samuel 17, Psalm 49

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Bitterness is defined as anger and disappointment resulting from unfair treatment; resentment. The definition of malice is the intention or desire to do evil; ill will.  Our scripture in 2 Samuel 17 today is a great illustration of the destruction caused when people hang on to bitterness and eventually allow it to turn into malice.

Earlier in the reign of King David, Ahithophel had been one of David’s most trusted advisers. In 2 Samuel chapters 15 and 16 this week, however, we saw him begin to take a lead part in Absalom’s revolt against David. What happened to turn Ahithophel from a trusted advisor in to an enemy?  Bitterness and malice.  In addition to being the King’s counselor, Ahithophel was also Bathsheba’s grandfather.  Because of David’s adulterous behavior with Bathsheba, his arrangement of Uriah’s death, and the family heartache it caused, Ahithophel was bitter with David.

In 2 Samuel 17, Ahithophel turned his bitterness into a plan to kill David.  Instead of just executing the plan, Absalom decided to get a second opinion from Hushai.  While Ahithophel’s plan was clearly more logical and would have resulted in fewer casualties, Absalom didn’t choose it.  Why?  Verse 14 tells us the Lord intervened in order to frustrate Ahithophel’s plan and bring disaster on Absalom.  What Absalom failed to recognize was that King David was still God’s chosen leader, and Hushai was still loyal to him.

When Ahithophel recognized that Hushai had outwitted him by getting Absalom to accept a plan that ultimately gave David the advantage, he foresaw the Absalom’s defeat. Verse 23 tells us that Ahithophel responded by going home, getting his things in order, and then hanging himself.  Ahithophel’s bitterness provoked him to create a plan to kill David, but in the end, Ahithophel was the one who ended up paying the ultimate price.

The moral of the story – God’s plans will always prevail.

Do you sometimes feel like you haven’t been treated fairly? I know I do.  Even though I’ve tried to do what was right, it isn’t uncommon for me to feel like I’ve gotten the short end of the stick.  Fortunately I have never found myself being bitter to the point of plotting murder, but overcoming bitterness and resentment after feeling like a victim of dishonesty and manipulation is really hard.  Taking the high road and choosing to forgive over harboring bitterness and seeking some kind of revenge is God’s plan, but often a place I cannot easily get to on my own.

Fortunately we serve an incredibly patient God who loves us and has our best interest in mind.  We can forgive others because he forgave us first.  We can love others because he loved us first.  Hanging on to bitterness and resentment eventually results in self-destruction.  Today, will you let go and trust God to help you make a different choice?  We may not have clarity on what every step of the journey will bring, but the final outcome is definitely certain.  God’s plans will prevail.  Always.

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall (Psalm 55:22).