Praying against our enemies
Posted by Clyde Herrin
Jesus commanded that we pray for our enemies.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)
King David once prayed against one of his enemies.
It was told David, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.” (2 Samuel 15:31)
When David made this prayer his son Absalom had rebelled against him and he had been forced to flee from Jerusalem. Ahithophel had been an advisor to David and his support for Absalom was certainly a disappointment. We aren’t told why he supported Absalom but it might have been due to the fact that he was the grandfather of Bathsheba.
And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (2 Samuel 11:3)
Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite (2 Samuel 23:34)
Perhaps he resented the fact that his granddaughter had become involved in sin through David’s actions and saw Absalom’s revolt as an opportunity for revenge.
Immediately after David prayed God gave him the opportunity help bring about the answer.
While David was coming to the summit, where God was worshiped, behold, Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat torn and dirt on his head. David said to him, “If you go on with me, you will be a burden to me.But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I have been your father’s servant in time past, so now I will be your servant,’ then you will defeat for me the counsel of Ahithophel.” (2 Samuel 15:32-34)
Ahithophel advised Absalom how to deal with David.
Moreover, Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Let me choose twelve thousand men, and I will arise and pursue David tonight. I will come upon him while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee. I will strike down only the king, and I will bring all the people back to you as a bride comes home to her husband. You seek the life of only one man, and all the people will be at peace.”
And the advice seemed right in the eyes of Absalom and all the elders of Israel. (2 Samuel 27:1-4)
Hushai contradicted this wise advice.
Then Absalom said, “Call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he has to say.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom said to him, “Thus has Ahithophel spoken; shall we do as he says? If not, you speak.”
Then Hushai said to Absalom, “This time the counsel that Ahithophel has given is not good.” Hushai said, “You know that your father and his men are mighty men, and that they are enraged, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field. Besides, your father is expert in war; he will not spend the night with the people. Behold, even now he has hidden himself in one of the pits or in some other place. And as soon as some of the people fall at the first attack, whoever hears it will say, ‘There has been a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ Then even the valiant man, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will utterly melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and that those who are with him are valiant men.
But my counsel is that all Israel be gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, as the sand by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. So we shall come upon him in some place where he is to be found, and we shall light upon him as the dew falls on the ground, and of him and all the men with him not one will be left. If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we shall drag it into the valley, until not even a pebble is to be found there.”
And Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The counsel of Hushai the Archite is better than the counsel of Ahithophel.” For the LORD had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the LORD might bring harm upon Absalom. (2 Samuel 17:5-14)
God answered David’s prayer. Ahithophel realized that Absalom’s decision would lead to his defeat.
When Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his donkey and went off home to his own city. He set his house in order and hanged himself, and he died and was buried in the tomb of his father. (2 Samuel 17:23)
Was David’s prayer in conflict with the command that we must pray for our enemies? We are to pray for the welfare of our enemies, especially that they will be saved. But we must also oppose the evil things they do. The best way to oppose evil is to follow the example of David. We must pray that their evil deeds will be ineffective and if God gives us the opportunity we must take action against them. There is no conflict between what Jesus commanded and what David did.