Bible Insights

How Do You Handle Disappointment?

When God Wants to Give You a Second Chance Make Sure You’re Ready to Receive It

You’re probably not familiar with Ahithophel in the Bible. His life serves as a lesson in how not to respond to disappointment.

Though his name does show up a few times during the reign of King David, Ahithophel is a largely forgettable character. He is an advisor to the king.

And when David’s son Absalom orchestrates a coup and tries to steal his father’s throne, Ahithophel switches his alliance from father to son, conspiring against David, the rightful ruler.

The Bible notes that Ahithophel gives advice to Absalom, which he follows.

The second time Absalom seeks the counsel of his advisor, Ahithophel gives wise advice, but another counselor under the guise of helping—he’s there to help David, not David’s son—gives a counter recommendation.

This time Absalom decides not to follow Ahithophel’s advice.

How Ahithophel Responds to Disappointment

What does Ahithophel do?

He goes off in the sulk, puts his affairs in order, and hangs himself. End of story.

Yes, it would be embarrassing to be advisor to the king and have him reject your recommendation. But it’s not worth killing yourself over. And if his suicide is some misplaced honorable action, just remember that it is, indeed, misplaced.

What if Ahithophel hadn’t killed himself? Surely he would have another chance to advise Absalom. Maybe his counsel would’ve helped Absalom avoid being killed.

Perhaps Ahithophel could have groveled before King David and sought his old job back. Then he could have continued advising the king.

But we’ll never know any of these, because Ahithophel chose to end his life. In one fatal decision, he removes the possibilities of what his future could be.

Can you think of another person in the Bible who hung himself? How about Judas?

How Judas Deals with Disappointment

Distraught over his role in bringing about Jesus’s death, Judas goes out and kills himself too. Yes, his remorse is much deeper than Ahithophel’s. Judas arguably committed the biggest mistake in human history.

Yet I wonder what might have happened had he not chosen to prematurely end his life. When Peter three times denied that he followed or even knew Jesus, he stuck around—although guiltily.

And Jesus restored him into right relationship. Jesus forgave him and elevated him back into leadership.

If Judas hadn’t killed himself and stuck around, too, would Jesus have offered him mercy as well? I think so. Jesus is all about grace and mercy.

But we’ll never know. Judas chose to end his life, so we’ll never know what it could have become.

When people end their life prematurely, they remove their future potential and take away the opportunity for restoration, to both other people and to God.

The risk is simply too great to take.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 16-18, and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 17:23.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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