2 Samuel 16:15-23 Reject Flattery, But Seek The Truth
2 Samuel 16:15-23
15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the army of Israel arrived at Jerusalem, accompanied by Ahithophel. 16 When David’s friend Hushai the Arkite arrived, he went immediately to see Absalom. “Long live the king!” he exclaimed. “Long live the king!” 17 “Is this the way you treat your friend David?” Absalom asked him. “Why aren’t you with him?”
18 “I’m here because I belong to the man who is chosen by the Lord and by all the men of Israel,” Hushai replied. 19 “And anyway, why shouldn’t I serve you? Just as I was your father’s adviser, now I will be your adviser!”
20 Then Absalom turned to Ahithophel and asked him, “What should I do next?” 21 Ahithophel told him, “Go and sleep with your father’s concubines, for he has left them here to look after the palace. Then all Israel will know that you have insulted your father beyond hope of reconciliation, and they will throw their support to you.” 22 So they set up a tent on the palace roof where everyone could see it, and Absalom went in and had sex with his father’s concubines. 23 Absalom followed Ahithophel’s advice, just as David had done. For every word Ahithophel spoke seemed as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God.
Hushai exploits the weakness of Absalom by taking advantage of his love for admiration. He gains Absalom’s trust while he is heady in the high of popular acclaim. Today’s passage teaches us not to seek the praises of men but to seek the truth, for the truth shall set us free. We must stay away from those who flatter, but seek out those who speak the truth in love.
Long live the king! – Ahithophel is the key figure in Absalom’s cabinet but not for long. Absalom is surprised at Hushai’s apparent defection, but what is more surprising is Absalom who is so easily disarmed by Hushai’s frivolous flattery. He combines divine favor and popular approval: I belong to the man who is chosen by the Lord and by all the men of Israel, with personal devotion: Just as I was your father’s adviser, now I will be your adviser, in one compact phrase. Lost in the heady high of his newfound status and popular acclaim, Absalom is about to make one reckless mistake that will bring his house down in one fell swoop. Absalom’s narcissistic tendencies became a weakness that Hushai exploited well.
Go and sleep with your father’s concubines – Ahithophel senses it is time to publicly play up Absalom’s resolve and prowess to succeed his father. By taking ownership of David’s harem by force, Absalom shows himself as vicious and powerful to lead the nation. Given Absalom’s narcissistic and rebellious nature, it is not difficult to convince Absalom of his plan. A tent is set up while Absalom goes in and violated his father’s entire harem in plain sight.
Stay away from people who flatter, but seek out those who speak the truth. Beware of those who possess a glib tongue, who loves to flatter and sweet talk. Having said, we should also turn the tables around and beware of the narcissist in us. Narcissistic people loves praises, they are self-involved and love to be the center of attention. Narcissism moves to the rhythm of flattery. Because narcissists are predictable and talk is cheap, hence, they are easy to disarm. Once their guard is down, it is not difficult to appeal to their vanity and manipulate them. Hushai exploited Absalom’s love for admiration and gained his trust through flummery. There is a part of us who love to be adored and admired, and if we’re not careful, we will make mistakes that has far-reaching consequences. Flattery or excessive praise causes us to lose the ability to discern between facts and fallacies, friends or foe. Hence, we must deal with the narcissist in us by seeking not the praises of men but the truth of God. Praises may lift our emotions for a little while, but only the truth can direct our future progress. Hence, we must stay away from flatterers and sweet talkers, but seek out those who speak the truth. For the truth shall set us free.
Among those who are close to you, are the majority of them accustomed to speaking the truth even though it may hurt? Or are most of your friends afraid to speak the truth while keeping their comments within safe boundaries? By merely saying, “You are righteous and God’s favor is upon you!” is not very helpful. We must help one another identify the hindrances and overcome the fleshly mindset that stifle us. Perhaps, you could start by learning to speak the truth with the intention to encourage and to bless. You will then possess within your community the power to destroy the bondages that hinder abundant living.
Dear Lord, help me to reject flattery and seek the truth. Give me the wisdom to distinguish between truth and flattery. For the truth shall set me free. Help me to speak the truth while encouraging others in their progress. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.