2 Samuel 13
-The turmoil in David’s family now heats up in the form of rape and murder in aftermath of his sinful acts, which were forgiven but had consequence and fulfilled prophecy (see 2 Samuel 12:7-14). Now, it just so happened that Absalom had a beautiful sister by the name of Tamar, and Absalom’s step brother (both sons of David with different moms) by the name of Amnon loved her. Maybe we should say he was infatuated with her more than actual love as we will see. He was sick over her, feeling frustrated day after day, because she was a pure virgin and it seemed hard for him to do anything to her to demonstrate his affection. But Amnon had a friend. This friend was a brother of David’s, the son of Shimeah, by the name of Jonadab. He was described as “a very shrewd (chakam- crafty, cunning, wily, subtle, wise) man.” This Jonadab planted thoughts of sexual immorality in his friend and relative. He told Amnon not to be depressed over his love for Tamar, but to devise a plan to get close to her by deception. Amnon was told to lie down on his bed pretending to be ill and to ask for Tamar to be able to provide some food for him to eat so that he could eat from her hand. Amnon followed Jonadab’s plan to a tee, and when the king came to him thinking he was sick, his son beseeched his father to let Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in his sight so that he could eat from her hand. David obliged and sent for his beautiful-virgin daughter to assist what he thought was a sick son. Tamar obeyed her father and ministered to Amnon without raising any fuss. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked these cakes; then, she took them and dished them out before her step brother. But, Amnon refused to eat. He wanted everyone to go out from him, but he beckoned for Tamar to bring the food into the bedroom so that he could eat from her hand. Deceptively, he conned his step sister into his quarters for sexual intercourse. He took hold of her and said, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” But she replied with confidence and discretion, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing! As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” Instead of going through proper procedure and decorum, Amnon would not listen to her, and since he was the stronger one “he violated her and lay with her (2 Samuel 13:1-14).”
-The experience was not pleasant. We know this because in the aftermath of this rape, Amnon hated Tamar with “a very great hatred.” In fact, this hated trumped what infatuated love he felt for her previously. He told her to “Get up,” and to “go away.” She reasoned with him that this would certainly be wrong to send her away like this making it an even greater wrong than he had already accomplished, if we can imagine that in this ancient culture. Yet, he still would not listen to her and had his young man servant throw her out of his presence with a locked door behind her (2 Samuel 13:15-17). Grievous situation to say the least.
-As a daughter of the king, all the virgins would wear long-sleeved garments with their robes. Tamar put ashes on her head in sorrow for what had just transpired and tore her long-sleeved garment, which was on her. She put her hand on her head and went away from Amnon’s lair crying aloud as she went. Then Absalom saw her and spoke, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.” The Word says that she remained then in Absalom’s house desolated (shamem- awestruck, appalled, deserted). When King David heard of all these matters, he was “very angry.” On Absalom’s part, he refused to speak to Amnon for neither good or bad. His hatred boiled for his step brother over the violation of his sister and the silent treatment was his offensive weapon (2 Samuel 13:18-22).
-After two full years after this incident, Absalom invited all the king’s sons to go where he had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim to the north of Jerusalem. Absalom asked his dad to go along too, but David felt like he would be burdensome to his son during this event for whatever reason. He did bless him and sent him on his way though. Absalom had urged his dad to go, but was denied. Perhaps this was a plea by a son for his dad to step and rectify a tense situation between the brothers. There is no doubt that David missed an opportunity to intervene in what turned out to be a violent crisis. Absalom, and the text does not state the motives in the situation although we do know there was intense hatred, continued to pursue bringing Amnon. When David asked why he should go along, Absalom entreated him to let all the king’s sons join the party, to which David consented. When they got to Baal-hazor, Absalom commanded his servants, “See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” This was a vengeful killing, not of the LORD and not like his father David in so many instances where he forgave and restored people. He took his own retribution instead of letting the LORD handle the sin. Therefore, at this time the son of David went in the wrong direction. The servants of Absalom did to Amnon exactly as Absalom had commanded in killing this former rapist. Some would say he got what he had coming to him. But when this happened, all the king’s sons arose, mounted their mules, and fled. In the meantime, a false report came back to King David informing that Absalom had struck down all the king’s sons with none left. Can you even imagine what this would have done to the king’s heart? Even if it was short-lived, this news would have been devastating. David arose, tore his clothes, and assumed the same position on the ground that he had when he found out the LORD had stricken the first child borne to Bathsheba (see 2 Samuel 12:15b-16). All his servants who were around him tore their clothes as well in deep sorrow and mourning. But, somehow, the cunning and shrewd Jonadab, who was in attendance, calmed the chaos by stating, “Do not let my lord suppose that they have put to death all the young men, the king’s sons, for Amnon alone is dead; because by the intent of Absalom this has been determined since the day that he violated his sister Tamar.” Then he reiterated his belief that all were not dead as had been erroneously reported. This at least infers inside knowledge by conspiring Jonadab. Absalom had fled the scene entirely, but the king’s watchman raised his eyes and saw many people coming towards Jerusalem from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. Jonadab told the king that it was his sons as they came rolling in. As they came they also lifted up their voices in bitter wailing over the whole situation. Meanwhile, Absalom had fled to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur (modern day Golan Heights area in ancient East Manasseh directly east of the Sea of Galilee). David mourned every day, the Bible tells us, over this lost son for three long years. “The heart of David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Samuel 13:23-39).”
-*Application* Preemptive action is something we all too often take for granted. David could have been more perceptive and in tune with his family during these days of conflict and averted this catastrophe. We can get too busy, too often, too if we’re not careful. Pay attention to the things going on on the home front. Watch out for deception, hatred, and possible vengeance of one relative against another. Above all pray and ask the LORD to watch over the house. Otherwise, we labor in vain (Psalm 127:1). Take it from David, the results can be very discouraging when we are aloof and don’t lead with spiritual insight.
Verses to Memorize: 2 Samuel 13:14, 39