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There was a time in my life when I was very much struggling to forgive.

It was someone who was once a dear friend. Our friendship had been altered by sin and fellowship was broken. I struggled in many ways to put myself back together and just do better, but I could not. I remember praying and desperately asking God for help because I did not want to carry this grudge. It was a visceral feeling and I could not remove it myself no matter how hard I tried. In addition to being wrong to hold that grudge–as bitterness does–it was hurting me and my own walk with God the most. God pressed the conviction of sin hard on me for some time. And so I began to walk through the painful process of uprooting the sin of bitterness. I want to share how He used something very unassuming yet specific to begin to cleanse my bitter heart. 

It came through a YouVersion app Bible reading plan. Now I need to caution that there are many reading plans on YouVersion that veer away from God’s word, and therefore I cannot recommend all that is in this Bible app. (If you do use it, I challenge you to read like a Berean and abandon any reading plans that divert from God’s word, leaving a review saying as much.) But I prayed for help and God answered through a search. I found a simple plan called “Don’t Let Bitterness Kill You

It was here that I learned the story of a little-known man in scripture, Ahithophel. He was the trusted advisor and closest counselor to King David in his early reign. David sought out Ahithophel for wisdom as he made decisions. King David trusted his advice. But a grievous sin and terrible offense happened indirectly between them which changed their relationship forever. 

We all know King David took what was not his when he called Bathsheba (another man’s wife) into his bed chamber. We know how he furthermore, put her husband to death on the battlefield in order to “clean up” his sin. This sin was devastating to King David, but I had never considered how this sin affected others secondarily. Enter Ahithophel. It is not explicitly stated in scripture, but as you study the story, you find these connections are there: Ahithophel, David’s trusted counselor, was actually the grandfather of Bathsheba. It’s said that blood is thicker than water. This proved true when the bulletproof relationship between King and Advisor was shattered by the sin committed against his granddaughter. 

Surely we can understand why the relationship would change.  The confidence and mutual respect once freely shared between closest friends had taken a huge blow.  Ahithophel resigned from the counsel of David and, adding injury to insult, he vengefully became the chief advisor to David’s rebel son and arch-enemy, Absalom.

Now if we take a few steps back from this storyline, let’s ask a question about the authenticity of wisdom: Can wisdom truly be wisdom when it is suffocated by bitterness?

Is it possible that one man could offer the same wise counsel when he is living in faith with a clean heart as when he is acting in bitterness and revenge? Did Absalom receive the same quality of counsel from Ahithophel that David did?

Well, the answer is no, because something changed. Ahithophel was not the same person when he was advising Absalom as he was when he walked the halls of the palace with David. No longer did he have a pure intention for the good of Israel and the King. Instead, he had a major ax to grind. And he sought out David’s demise. I won’t tell you how it ends. Instead, I encourage you to read this plan for yourself.

But I will ask the question again: can a bitter person offer the same wisdom as a person with a clean heart? I think it is plain to see this cannot be so because one carries a sense of revenge- and what is wisdom other than cunning foolishness if it is being driven by revenge? Vengeance belongs to God, not us. We simply cannot harbor bitterness and call ourselves close to God and the wisdom He offers. We must fight to uproot and defeat this sin by God’s power.

We should never fool ourselves, thinking if we once possessed righteous, godly wisdom that we will have that forever. Sin, bitterness, jealousy, and hatred can alter our perspective on what is true.  We no longer see through the eyes and lens of scripture, but rather through selfish ambition and vain conceit. Bitterness suffocates wisdom! But we can be cleansed! We can repent and turn back to the wise counsel of the Word.

 We are only as wise as we are dependent on the Holy Spirit and abiding in the vine of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To walk in unity with clean hearts toward our brothers and sisters, we need to remain in a posture of humility: daily seeking–never assuming we already possess–the wisdom of God. And repenting quickly when we go astray. May we come with clean hands and a clean heart before the Lord and before his people. Seeking godly wisdom that comes from above, not using worldly wisdom (foolishness) to feed our selfish ambitions and vain desires.

In love,