In my study of forgiveness, I have gone from Old Testament to New Testament and back again, looking for examples and answers to the questions that have been playing in my mind.
I learned that I can’t hide from being hurt. Hurts find a way of reaching even the most protected areas of my life. I do have options on how to handle those hurts though.
I went back to the example of Ahithophel and King David. Why, because both options are found in this story of David and Bathsheba.
What caused Ahithophels’ spiral downhill that ended with his taking his own life? If you read the story, you might at first say the same thing I did: David’s sin caused it.
You would be right, IF you are looking at it the way the natural unsaved man looks at it. The natural man looks for someone else to blame. And that is the way Ahithophel looked at it too. He took the first option that came to mind.
“If David had not had the affair with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, then I would not feel this anger! It’s David’s fault!”
He felt that David must pay for what he had done, and he was going to make sure that he did.
In other words Ahithophel became judge jury and executioner. He was not satisfied with allowing God to work. He was not willing to allow God to be God. He decided God moved too slow.
He did not want David forgiven, he wanted him dead. And he wanted it now! Not only that but he wanted the satisfaction of being the one to carry out the deed.
Because he was not willing to forgive David himself and let God deal with him, he opened up the door for Satan to plant bitterness. Bitterness is what the writer of the book of Hebrews warns me against.I went back and looked it up to read:
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
It is by the grace of God that I can do all things, so I am to always be on the lookout, watching my actions, my thoughts, my ways to prevent bitterness from coming into my life and taking the throne of my heart from the Lord.
From this verse I also learned that it will not always be easy to spot bitterness in the beginning because it is a root and roots are hidden under something else.
1. It’s something that may take time for me to spot unless I am constantly (diligently) looking for it. It’s something that others may never see until it’s in full flower. Sort of like the couple who are always so great together in public until one day you read of their divorce in the paper.
2. If you compare it to a plant, as Paul did, bitterness grows the best in dirt. The dirt of unforgiveness, lashing out at the person that hurt you, whether it is directly to them, or spreading poison among others as Ahithophel did when he went to the camp of Absalom.
3. It grows swiftly. Paul says “spring up”. It doesn’t take long for something to spring up. Weeds in a flower garden spring up over night, but the root for that weed was there before you saw the weed. It is the same with bitterness. By the time others see the effects of bitterness, you have been feeding it and thinking of it for awhile.
4. It grows stronger as time goes by. The longer you refuse to forgive someone, the harder it will be to do. The hurt you feel, although a constant source of pain for you, will become calloused over as it grows. Adding layer upon layer.
But if you look at it the way God looks at it, and the way I came to understand it as I studied, you will soon see that it wasn’t David's sin of adultery and murder, but Ahithophels sin of unforgiveness that was the cause of Ahithophels problem.
Am I reading too much into this? I don’t think so and here is why. Ahithophel was not the only man that had been wronged and could have taken revenge. There was Eliam, his son, Bathsheba’s father. What was his reaction to what David had done? He chose to obey God and forgive the King. He chose to leave David in God’s hands. How do I know this? Eliam continued in the service of the King as a soldier. He did not join with the army of Absalom against David. Unlike Ahithophel, Eliam left no place for Satan to work.
If you go back to the verse in Hebrew above and read carefully you notice that Paul said "trouble you", that root of bitterness will first and formost trouble YOU. Satan is wanting to trouble your soul with bitterness.