Nevertheless, the detailed description of Ahithophel’s suicide was preceded as it is by the emphasis on his precocious wisdom (2 Samuel 15:31; 16:23). The writer is emphasizing, critiquing, and comparing human wisdom to divine revelation.
Earlier, the counsel of the wise man Shimeah (2 Samuel 13:3–5) was shown to bring humiliation to the royal family and death to an heir of the king; here an even wiser man’s wisdom had led to an inglorious and premature death that deprived one of Israel’s best families of its most honored member. Without being explicit, the writer conveys the truth that human wisdom untempered by divine revelation produces results that are neither desirable nor productive.
In this entire event the writer has taken great care to describe how King Absalom determined his course of action—like the kings of other nations, he sought the advice of wise men. In so doing he created a strong contrast with his father.
At every crux in his life, David sought the word of the Lord, either through a priest (1 Samuel 23:1–6; 2 Samuel 5:19, 23) or a prophet (2 Samuel 7:3–17). Absalom’s pursuit of and compliance with human counsel brought about the hasty end of his regime. David’s pursuit of and obedience to divine revelation brought him only success and dynastic blessings. By providing contrasting narrative portraits of these two kings, David and Absalom, the author writes a prescription for the success of all future leaders in Israel: seek the word of the Lord and obey it.