29 David Atrocities Strike Family
Atrocities Strike Family
2 Samuel 13
The bitter fruits of David’s adulterous sin now begin to multiply for him with a series of atrocities striking hard upon his family. In the previous chapter of Scripture was recorded the loss of the child conceived by adultery. But that great sorrow was only the beginning of the sorrowful tragedies which were going to plague David the remainder of his days. New and much greater tragedies were going to enter David’s life as the rod of Divine chastisement comes down heavily upon him in punishment for his gross iniquity.
The atrocities recorded in our text which strike David’s family revolve around the incestuous rape by David’s son Amnon of David’s daughter Tamar a half-sister of Amnon. This most shameful and repulsive sin led to other gross sins in David’s family. David would certainly like to blot out from the Divine account of his life this chapter along with the two previous chapters in Scripture. One can imagine that David would quickly trade his royalty, prestige, fortune, and fame, with all the stains of sin that had recently began to accompany these privileges, for the position of a lowly shepherd who did not have all those shameful stains upon his or his family’s record.
The pain of the atrocities recorded in this chapter of Scripture was greatly increased for David by the fact that they plainly mirrored some of David’s sins regarding Bathsheba and Uriah. The sins David had brought into his home were now being reproduced by his children. In our study of these atrocities, we will note some of the significant ways in which they replayed before David’s eyes his own iniquity. God mirrored David’s sin repeatedly in chastening David. This was done in order that David might “see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God” (Jeremiah 2:19) in his gross evils with Bathsheba and Uriah.
To study the atrocities which came into David’s family that revolved around an incident of rape, we will examine the record of the rape (vv. 1–14), the reaction to the rape (vv. 15–23), and the revenge for the rape (vv. 23–29).
A. THE RECORD OF THE RAPE
Rape is a big problem in our society. But this shameful problem is not unique to our society. It has been a problem in every age, and it became a problem in David’s family. To look into the Bible’s record of the rape in David’s household, we will note the perpetrator of the rape, the promoters of the rape, the person who was raped, and the portrayal in the rape.
1. The Perpetrator of the Rape
A festering moral sore abode in David’s family in the person of his son Amnon. This sore spread its deadly infection throughout the royal family when it perpetrated the terrible crime of raping Tamar, another member of the royal family. “In Scripture some men have very short biographies; Amnon is one of these. And, like Cain, all that is recorded of him has a mark of infamy” (Blaikie). To further examine Amnon and his evil conduct of rape, we note the advantages of Amnon, the attitudes of Amnon, and the attack by Amnon.
The advantages of Amnon. Amnon had many advantages in life. He was not only a “son of David” (v. 1), but he was the eldest son of David (2 Samuel 3:2). That meant he was in line for the throne. He was the one designated by his birth to follow David as king. Being the son of royalty and heir to the throne, Amnon had his own “house” (v. 8) and many other amenities which would accompany his high royal position. But his royal position and its accompanying affluence did not keep him from evil. In spite of the advantages incumbent upon royal position, Amnon still sinned in a terrible way by raping his half-sister.
Amnon’s failure in spite of his great earthly advantages strongly emphasizes the fact that what men need to improve their behavior is not a new berth but a new birth. Our world, however, has no regard for such a conclusion. Rather, they are completely taken up with the idea that to change bad behavior to good behavior we need more money, better housing, better clothes, better paying jobs, and more parks for recreation and pleasure. They ignore the fact that Adam and Eve lived in a perfect environment but still sinned. And they are at a loss to describe the deviant behavior of an Amnon who had everything the world thinks is necessary to behave rightly. But behavior problems are a result of one’s heart not of one’s house or other material situations. We have slums because we have slummy people. Build new and well furnished apartments for them and they will in quick order make slums out of them.
We need to get the slums out of people more than we need to get people out of the slums. The new birth program of the Gospel has this emphasis, for it gets the slums out of the people. When you get the slums out of the people, they will change their slummy living situation into a better place. Amnon had a slummy heart. Putting him in a royal house only resulted in putting slummy behavior in a royal house. He made a moral pig pen out of it. He made it a moral ghetto. Like his father David, earthly advantages only aggravated his sin; it did not arrest and stop his sin. Amnon, like many wealthy folk, could not handle a life of plenty. For one thing he let his life of plenty keep him from “the wholesome necessity of denying himself” (Blaikie). So when a illicit desire came for his half-sister Tamar, he would not deny himself of her but had to have her regardless.
The attitudes of Amnon. Scripture details some of the sordid attitudes of Amnon which laid the foundation for his vile conduct with Tamar. These vile attitudes of Amnon include his passion, ponderings, problem, pining, and proclaiming.
First, his passion “Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her” (v. 1). Amnon had great love for Tamar, but it was not holy love! She was his sister, so it was forbidden love (Leviticus 18:9,11). Hence, there was no character in his passion. It reeked of the stench of immorality. It was not a love that sought honorable marriage but a love that sought gratification of physical lusts outside of marriage (v. 11). “His love sought gratification at the expense of the honor, the interest, the happiness of the object beloved; and it trampled under foot every law whether human or divine” (Simeon). Such is not true love. Amnon’s passion for Tamar was sinful passion.
Sometimes we hear of couples who claim they were so much in love that they ended up being immoral with each other. That is a bunch of nonsense! True love does not so shamefully and injuriously defile the one they love. If their love was true love, they would not have committed immoral acts and thereby dirtied each other’s character. Today, however, the idea of love is so perverted that immoral lust is called love. That is Hollywood’s version of love, but it is not the Bible’s version of love. The Bible says some very plain and significant things about true love which describes it of a far different character than that of immorality. The Bible says love is “kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Immorality, however, is not kind. It is cruel not only to the those whose virtue is destroyed, but also to countless others who are affected by the foul deed. Amnon’s foul deed was great cruelty to Tamar and her family (David’s household), and David’s immorality resulted in the murder of Uriah. The Bible says love “doth not behave itself unseemly” (1 Corinthians 13:5), but immorality is indeed most unseemly behavior. Amnon’s conduct with Tamar was about as unseemly as it could be. The Bible says love “seeketh not her own” (Ibid.), but immorality is a selfish gratification of one’s fleshly appetites. Amnon was extremely selfish in his action towards Tamar. He thought not one bit about her welfare or about the scandalous dishonor it would bring to the palace. The Bible says, love “thinketh no evil” (Ibid.), but immorality is the result of evil thoughts and promotes evil thoughts. We will see next that Amnon was obsessed with evil thoughts. If you want a true definition of love, get into the Bible. The world knows little of true love, but God’s Word defines it well.
Second, his ponderings. “Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her” (v. 2). Amnon’s “thought” life was focused on Tamar and in an immoral way, for “do any thing to her” refers to having sexual relations with her. As we will see in our next point, the “hard” problem did not have to do with virtue but with the difficulty of getting Tamar into a situation where he could have sexual relations with her. Amnon had royal blood in his veins, but he did not have royal thoughts in his heart. Amnon’s ponderings were very polluted, and this led him downward morally to the destruction of his body, soul, and character.
We noted in David’s evil with Bathsheba that we are the product of our thoughts. Hence, you must control your thought life if you are to have victory over evil instead of being a victim of evil. Evil thoughts can destroy a person. Multitudes of people have destroyed themselves through evil thoughts. You must battle evil thoughts, or you will be battered by evil thoughts. Amnon failed in his combat against evil thoughts. Instead of opposing them, he harbored his evil thoughts about Tamar and let them so consume his thinking that he destroyed his character and his life. What a tragic case of letting one’s thought life destroy one’s life. It warns all mankind about the necessity of maintaining a holy thought life.
Third, his problem. “She was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her” (v. 2). Our text appears to say that the “hard” problem keeping Amnon from Tamar was his strong scruples about touching Tamar because she was a virgin. But the context will disprove that conclusion, for Amnon had so little scruples that he raped Tamar. The “hard” problem here for Amnon concerning Tamar’s virginity was not her virgin condition but her virgin circumstances. Being a “virgin” meant Tamar was living in a protected situation as did all the virgin daughters of the king or of other families. Virgins did not frequent society as they do today. This meant Amnon did not have the easy circumstances of getting to her as men do today with our dating habits. So Amnon’s problem was not how to silence his conscience, but how to arrange suitable circumstances to have sexual relations with Tamar. With the help of a wicked scheme devised by an evil friend, Amnon did, however, overcome the circumstance problem so he could violate Tamar. Amnon’s vileness was so great that he went to much trouble to overcome every difficulty (from circumstances to Tamar’s resistance) to be immoral with Tamar. Would that “hard” problems were as earnestly fought by good people for good projects as they are fought by evil people for evil projects.
Fourth, his pining. “Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar . . . [he was] lean from day to day” (vv. 2, 4). This was a sickness caused by Amnon’s sinful affection. Inordinate affections can destroy us. Amnon allowed his affection for Tamar, which was a forbidden affection, to so control him that it made him sick. Amnon is not unique in this experience. It goes on all the time. Today folk allow an inordinate desire for alcohol, tobacco, drugs, rock and roll music, as well as unholy sex to so control them that they hurt themselves physically beyond repair. A lot of pining is the result of pollution—not pollution of the environment but pollution of the morals. AIDS, as an example, causes a great deal of pining, and it is a result of polluted sex. But our society champions polluted sex, and so much so that it castigates anyone who speaks negatively of any deviate sexual lifestyles or who “discriminates” against those who practice perverted sex. Pining will continue, however, until there is a holy revival in the hearts of mankind.
Fifth, his proclaiming. “And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister” (v. 4). Amnon proclaimed his vile attitudes to his friend Jonadab in that he told Jonadab his passion for Tamar. While one would tend to think that a person would want to keep to himself his evil attitudes, we should not be surprised that Amnon admitted to others that he had this vile affection; for when men give themselves to sordid affections, their mouth will announce it. And when the mouth announces sinful desires, it indicates that sin has so gripped the person that he has lost his shame about it. Amnon had lost his shame of his immoral attitudes to the extent that he readily admitted them to Jonadab. He was like the Israelites of Jeremiah’s day who had no shame for their sin. Jeremiah said of them, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush” (Jeremiah 8:12). Our society is filled with folk who have no shame about sin. They can dress immodestly, fill their mouth with dirty talk, publicize their perverse sex life (“coming out of the closet” as it is called by the news media), and even have a parade about their perverse ways (homosexual parades are held all over the country). But when men lose their shame of sin, they will lose their soul to sin; and society will be destroyed.
The attack by Amnon. Amnon’s immoral attack upon Tamar involved pretending, privacy, proposal, persistency, and power.
First, pretending. “Amnon lay down, and made himself sick” (v. 6). Amnon’s attack began by pretending he was sick. This trick to get Tamar into his apartment so he could seduce her was suggested to him by his evil friend Jonadab. We will see more about Jonadab and his advice later. This is the second sickness of Amnon seen in this chapter. First, it was a pining sickness (v. 2), now second, it is a pretended sickness (the word “made” is better rendered “pretend,” for that is the meaning of the context). Robert Jamieson, in his commentary, notes that “the Orientals are great adepts in feigning sickness whenever they have any object to accomplish.” Churches have lot of members who are also very adept at feigning sickness, especially when it comes to church attendance.
This pretending by Amnon emphasizes the fact that evil often requires deception to gain its object. Deception is a big part of unholy conduct. There is deception in the promises that sin gives, in the gaining of the objects of sin, and in the covering up the deeds of sin. Amnon’s deception to do immoral deeds reminds us that immorality is especially associated with deception. In fact, deceit is a prominent trademark of immorality. Hence, is it not surprising that immoral people are not trustful people.
Second, privacy. “And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him” (v. 9). Amnon needed to be all alone with Tamar when he seduced Tamar. Hence, his attack of Tamar included arranging circumstances so the two of them would be in private together. Here is a warning about evil that is especially appropriate for young people. Beware of the date who wants to drive to a secluded spot and sit in a parked car in a dark place. Beware of the date who wants to get you in a house when no one else is at home or tries to get you into the privacy of a motel room. Evil thrives in such situations. Bars and dance halls and other dens of iniquity show the same evil practice in the fact they are usually all darkened places. The darkness in these places promotes privacy and underscores the fact that sin thrives in such places. It is another confirmation of the Scripture which says, “men loved darkness [one reason is that it gives privacy for evil] rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Third, proposal. “He . . . said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister” (v. 11). Once he had Tamar in private, Amnon’s attack included this proposal to Tamar. It was a filthy, foolish, forbidden (Leviticus 18:9,11), and fatal (to him—vv. 28,29) proposal. There was nothing acceptable about it. It was the gross sin of incest, for Tamar was his close relative—a half-sister no less. But gross sin never lacks for someone to propose it, and here Amnon shamelessly proposed it. There has never been a shortage of people to propose evil deeds. Such people never seem to be very interested in doing wholesome projects and activities. Give them some free time, and they are primarily interested in using it for doing evil. They are the dates that only want to spend their time on the date in promiscuous conduct. They are the businessmen who on a business trips want wine and women filling their off hours. They are the ones who head for the nearest bar when their work shift is over. Shun these people. Keep your distance from those who continually have evil on their minds and are always proposing to do some evil activity.
Fourth, persistency. “Howbeit, he would not hearken unto her voice; but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her” (v. 14). Amnon’s attack of Tamar was a persistent attack. Nothing would deter him. Difficult circumstances and Divine commands would not stop him. Here in our text he would not let discreet counsel stop him either. No advice would persuade him to behave better. Tamar gave Amnon very good advice (which we will see more about later), but Amnon gave it no honor and totally rejected it. Many folk are like Amnon in rejecting good counsel. The Bible says, “A wise man will hear” (Proverbs 1:5). He will heed good counsel. But fools are a different story. And Amnon was a fool.
Amnon’s persistency in pursuing his evil goal is another reminder that evil is persistent. It does not give up easily. Therefore, if you are going to have success over evil, you will need to be very persistent in your resistance of it and your attack of it. Temptation will attack you day after day. Therefore, you must be persistent and fight it day after day, or you will lose the battle to it. Mankind is always making the mistake of underestimating the persistency of evil. This failure leads to leniency in the courtroom regarding sentencing of evil. Also this failure causes nations to be too easy on belligerent nations which leads to wars that could have avoided had the good nations recognized the persistency of the evil of the belligerent nations.
Fifth, power. “Being stronger than she, [he] forced her, and lay with her” (v. 14). Amnon’s attack was an overpowering attack. He used his physical strength to overcome Tamar’s resistance to his immoral ways. Amnon had the wrong kind of strength here. He had physical strength, but he did not have any character strength. Amnon is like much of our world in that he was much stronger physically than he was in character. There is nothing wrong with physical strength. But the problem in our day is that we are more concerned about physical strength than character strength. If folk took care of themselves physically like we do spiritually, most folk would soon be dead. Amnon was so weak in the matter of character that he yielded to the temptation of gross perverseness.
2. The Promoters of the Rape
Two men helped promote this rape. One did so by plainly advocating it; the other did so by not doing anything to stop it. The two men were Jonadab the reprobate and David the ruler.
The reprobate promoted rape. “Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother” (v. 3). A strong influencing factor in bringing about this immoral deed by Amnon was a friend of Amnon named Jonadab. Jonadab was a first cousin of Amnon, for Jonadab’s father (Shimeah) was a brother to Amnon’s father (David). Shimeah was the third oldest of the sons of Jesse, David’s father (1 Chronicles 2:13). The behavior of Jonadab in this chapter of Scripture shows him as being a real reprobate. Nothing good can be said of him. To see some detail about his poor character and how it led Amnon into evil, we note the subtleness of Jonadab, the scheme of Jonadab, the secrecy of Jonadab, and the society with Jonadab.
First, the subtleness of Jonadab. “Jonadab was a very subtle man” (v. 3). The Hebrew word translated “subtle” means “wise; sagacious, shrewd; in a good or bad sense” (Wilson). The context in which the word is used determines if it is used in a good or an evil sense. In this passage, “subtle” is used in an evil sense. Jonadab used his skill and keenness of mind to do evil, not to do good. Jonadab was sharp of mind and quick in observation. He was able to assess situations very quickly. He would have made a good detective in our day. Jonadab’s keenness is seen in his discerning of Amnon’s condition. “And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me?” (v. 4). Not only did he notice that Amnon was sick, but he was quick to see this must be a serious problem; for, after all, Amnon was the king’s son and any need he had would be attended to quickly. So leanness from day to day indicated a serious problem.
There are a lot of folk who have serious problems though they be wealthy, in royal surroundings, are popular, and have prestigious positions. Earthly advantages do not guarantee a tranquil, trouble-free life. A royal dwelling place is no barrier to heartaches and headaches. Wise men will not covet high position, fame, fortune, and luxury. Such situations too often only aggravate one’s problem as Jonadab implies here.
Second, the scheme of Jonadab. When Jonadab was informed of the problem (Amnon informed him that he loved Tamar—v. 4), “Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight that I may see it, and eat it at her hand” (v. 5). This scheme proposed by Jonadab really underscores the great corruptness of Jonadab’s character. The fact that Amnon so readily accepted the scheme reveals the great corruptness of Amnon’s character, too. This scheme advocated deceit, defilement, and disobedience.
This scheme advocated deceit. The scheme was for Amnon to fake sickness. As we noted earlier, Amnon was to fake that he was sick in order to have an excuse to get Tamar to come to his apartment. Deceit, however, is sin; and anyone who advocates that you use deceit to achieve some goal is no friend but a foe.
This scheme advocated defilement in that it promoted incestuous sex. Jonadab had no compunction about going along with Amnon’s desire to have immoral relations with his half-sister. Jonadab was not bothered by incest. He was like our foul society which sees nothing wrong with deviant sex. Rather than discouraging it, he advocated it. No one needs a friend like that. Neither do we need legislators like that who approve deviant sex. But unfortunately many have such friends, and our country is plagued by an abundance of such legislators.
This scheme advocated disobedience. It advocated disobeying God’s law which forbid sexual relations with near of kin (Leviticus 18:9,11; Deuteronomy 27:22). Any proposal that advocates disobedience to God’s Word is a bad proposal. Disobeying God’s Word is never right, wise, or necessary!
Third, the secrecy of Jonadab. “Jonadab . . . answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead; for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar” (v. 32). People who encourage you to do evil are not people you can trust! Jonadab proposed a clever scheme for Amnon to get Tamar—and the scheme worked. But Jonadab kept secret about the tragic results of the evil scheme. He would not tell Amnon about Absalom’s plot to kill Amnon. Some friend Jonadab was. In our verse, Jonadab is speaking with King David and he says that Absalom plotted to kill Amnon from the day Tamar was raped.‑So Jonadab not only did not tell Amnon, but neither did he tell David (which we will note more about later). How cruel his secrecy was about the results of sin.
Jonadab’s secrecy reveals the character of sin. Sin never warns us of its evil consequences. It talks of pleasures and good times of sin, but fails to tell you that destruction will be your end when you sin. The bartender is like this, for he keeps selling booze though he knows full well it is destroying the drinker’s body and can kill the drinker on the highway. Tobacco manufacturers know full well what happens to your body when you smoke, but they keep advertising tobacco. Homosexuals are pushing for more and more recognition, but they (and the liberal press) will not tell you the tragic consequences of homosexualism on the body and mind. Abortionists fight for legal rights, but they are quite secretive about disclosing the physical and mental anguish that comes with abortion. If they readily revealed the truth about abortion consequences, abortion clinics would go out of business overnight. Yes, sin is very secretive about the evil results of sinning just as Jonadab was very secretive about Absalom’s plot to kill Amnon.
Fourth, the society with Jonadab. In view of Jonadab’s conduct here with Amnon, it certainly is a warning about keeping in the society of such people. Jonadab was not a true friend of Amnon, but a false friend. A true friend does not encourage one to do evil, but Jonadab encouraged Amnon to do evil. Amnon’s choice of friends certainly exhorts us to be mighty careful in choosing our friends and in choosing in whose society we keep company. “Knowing then, as we do, how apt we are to imbibe the spirit of our friends, should we not be careful with whom we associate. Should we not select our friends from the wise and good, rather than from among the giddy and profane? (Simeon). Scripture says, “He that walketh with wise men will be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Amnon lived in the last part of this verse; for in keeping company with Jonadab, he was a companion of a fool and this companionship destroyed his morals and his life.
The ruler promoted rape. David’s entrance into this scene is a pathetic one. It shows him as a poor ruler of his home and land. His actions before the rape, after the rape, and after the revenge for the rape reveals a man greatly disabled by his own sin. Here we look at David’s unwise actions prior to the rape which made him an unwitting accomplice of the rape of Tamar. His actions showed poor discernment and gave a poor directive. With his poor actions, he promoted incestuous sex in his family.
First, poor discernment. “So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand” (v. 6). David failed miserably here in discerning the whole situation. While Amnon may have faked his sickness well, the request he made was one that should have immediately raised serious questions in David’s mind. This was a very strange and defenseless request. But David’s discernment was not sharp. His own wickedness had dulled the sharpness of his discernment, and so he failed to perceive the evil in Amnon’s behavior. Many folk are like David in that because of their unholy living, they do not do well in discerning evil in many evil actions. Carnal church members cannot see much wrong with a number of evils and complain if the pastor preaches against these evils. The world, of course, has even more difficulty seeing wrong in sin; for being unsaved, their moral discernment is very poor. Therefore, they go along with the homosexuals who want recognition, they vote for gambling in their communities, and they have difficulty seeing what is wrong with abortion, divorce, adultery, and booze plus many other evils.
Second, poor directive. “Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat” (v. 7). David was most unwise in ordering and permitting Tamar to go to Amnon’s apartment. It was an unhealthy situation. David’s action to send Tamar to Amnon is like the action of college authorities who make dorms coed. It is also like the action today that makes restrooms and other places unisex where males and females need to be separated for obvious reasons—obvious to a morally healthy mind that is. But David, as we noted above, had been disabled by sin and now has difficulty taking wise action. This tells us, along with David’s poor discernment of Amnon’s conduct, why church officers are to be people of high character. Those who have fallen in sin may be forgiven, but their spiritual skill will take a long time to be renewed to where they can be effective in serving God again.
3. The Person Who was Raped
Tamar, the victim of the rape, was the daughter of David via Maacah from whom David also had Absalom (2 Samuel 3:3). Tamar was an exceptional woman. She was as fine a daughter as David could want. We observe this in noting her comeliness, chastity, cooking, and counsel. Her exceptional qualities greatly aggravated Amnon’s evil conduct against her, and they would also increase the pain David experienced because of her rape.
Her comeliness. “Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar” (v. 1). “Fair” speaks of her looks—she was a beautiful woman. But her outward beauty brought her much trouble. This problem of beauty is not often realized by most people, for they mostly admire and envy those who are handsome and beautiful. Most people think these good looking folk have great advantages in life. The homecoming queen is the envy of most girls. The beauty queens from the beauty pageants seem to have it all going in their favor. But that is not the whole story. Beauty can be more of a burden than a blessing. It is frequently a ticket to troubles. Those of exceptional beauty often face great temptation and are (as Tamar was) subject to foul play by others all because of their beauty. Without her beauty, Tamar would not have been raped. This, of course, does not make beauty bad in itself or make it a sin to be good looking. Good looks do not have to be a curse. But what we are emphasizing here is that outward beauty is not to be greatly envied. If you are going to envy, envy character not comeliness.
Her chastity. “She was a virgin” (v. 2). Being a virgin says Tamar had moral beauty which is what really counts. So many good looking people are just good looking outside, but inside they are ugly and grotesque morally. That is Hollywood’s situation. But Tamar’s virginity indicated she was beautiful inwardly as well as outwardly. Maintaining one’s virginity until marriage is mocked by our world. The world views a virgin as a strange creature, a wallflower, a back number who does not understand what life is all about and who did not get a class on sex education in school. But virgin and virtue go together. If you have any sense at all, you will honor virtue, for God certainly does. The world honors vileness and scorns virginity in the unmarried. But it does not take a college education to see the peril and folly of honoring vileness instead of virtue.
Her cooking. Amnon requested that Tamar “come, and make me a couple cakes in my sight . . . And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes” (vv. 6, 8). Tamar possessed some culinary skills. This was commendable. It said that though she was the king’s daughter, she did not disdain household duties. Though she lived in wealth, she did not exempt herself from work. Though she was a beauty, she did not spend all her time in front of a mirror but spent considerably time in front of a stove. The feminist movement of our day has shown a great deal of disdain for household chores. But cleaning, dusting, cooking, sewing, washing, and ironing are not disdainful, disrespectful tasks. To be busy with these tasks does not mean you are in the low end of society or on the bottom rung of the women’s ladder. The problem of the feminist movement and of our society is that they have established an artificial and corrupt standard of what jobs constitutes honor and dishonor for woman. They may applaud Tamar’s outward beauty, but they are not interested in her inward beauty which is seen in both her virgin morality and cooking skills.
Her counsel. Tamar’s good character is really manifested in the counsel she gave Amnon after he said to her, “Come lie with me” (v. 11). She said in response to his immoral solicitation, “Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel; do not thou this folly. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee” (vv. 12, 13). We note five parts of this great counsel which Tamar gave to the morally wretched Amnon. They are refusal, rebuke, reproach, reputation, and remedy.
First, refusal. “Nay . . . do not force me . . . do not thou this folly” (v. 12). Tamar adamantly and repeatedly stated her refusal to engage in immoral conduct with Amnon. There was speed, strength, and steadfastness in this refusal.
The speed in the refusal is seen in the fact that Tamar made her refusal plainly known immediately after Amnon made his immoral proposal. Had Tamar delayed in stating her refusal, it would have signaled weakness in her character. But with her excellent character, she refused immediately. All immoral proposals need an immediate refusal. You do not have to spend time thinking about how to answer such a defiling proposal. The right answer is obvious!
The strength of the refusal is seen in the plain and dogmatic negative answers she gave to Amnon. The “Nay” and “do not” and another “do not” in our text emphasize the strength of her negative answer. We do not see any “perhaps” or “maybe” or “let me think about it” in her answer which would have weakened her refusal considerably and also revealed weakness in her character. Of course, a good many people are offended by such a frank and negative answer. As an example, let a preacher preach with such plain and dogmatic negativeness against sin and he will be accused of being unloving, inconsiderate, and too harsh. But Tamar was concerned about purity not popularity. Therefore, she gave forth a very strong refusal to Amnon’s foul proposal. If you are going to keep character in your life, you will need to respond the same way towards evil.
The steadfastness in her refusal is seen in the repetition of her negative answer. She repeatedly refused. This is the right approach to sin if we are going to kept from defiling ourself. We must refuse sin today, tomorrow, and the next day. Sin will continue to solicit us so we must be steadfast in refusing it. The fact that Tamar was raped does not invalidate her steadfastness. Rather, it underscores that Tamar, while terribly abused, did not lose character in this matter.
Second, rebuke. “Do not force me . . . do not thou this folly” (v. 12). Tamar’s refusal was also a rebuke for Amnon. We note the scope of the rebuke and the sagacity of the rebuke.
The scope of the rebuke is in the word “force.” Tamar was not just rebuking rape, she was rebuking all sex outside of marriage. The word “force” in “do not force me” appears to mean that Tamar was only rebuking rape. But that is not so, for the Hebrew word translated “force” is better rendered “humble.” The word appears in the Old Testament around eighty times and is translated by twenty-five different words and phrases in the KJV. Those twenty-five words and phrases with the exception of the five times it is translated “force” nearly all speak of very humbling action. As an example, the word is translated “humbled” in Psalm 35:13 where the Psalmist says, “I humbled my soul with fasting.” Any illicit sex would be very humiliating to Tamar whether she consented or not. Illicit sex always humbles.
The sagacity of the rebuke is in the word “folly.” Tamar wisely calls the act of immorality a fitting term. It is definitely “folly.” It is folly for it disobeys God which is always great folly, and it is folly for it greatly defiles a person. Of course, “folly” is not how the world views immorality. Instead, the world calls sin by respectable names to honor the deed in an attempt to diminish the wickedness of the deed. But Tamar had a lot more wisdom than much of our society in how she spoke of immorality. She called it “folly,” and wise men will keep Tamar’s vocabulary when describing immorality.
Third, reproach. “And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? And as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel” (v. 13). Two words are used by Tamar in our text to describe the great reproach which immorality brings on those who are involved in it. They are “shame” and “fools.” Oh yes, many who practice a pig pen morality bask in great honor in the world, but that is not true honor. Eternity will shame them forever. Amnon is the one who really experienced the reproach here, for Tamar would not willingly consent to immoral conduct. She did not suffer the “shame” of ruined character though she did suffer the “shame” of being abused. Amnon’s immoral conduct fittingly made him “one of the fools of Israel” (Ibid.). Amnon was in line for the throne. He was, therefore, in line for great honor and glory. But his immorality would change all that. Instead of being honored as royalty is honored, he would be classified as “one of the fools in Israel.” What a ruination of his name, character, and prestige occurred through his immorality. Because Amnon would not listen to Tamar, he committed an awful immoral act and so Tamar’s prediction has come true. For some three millenniums, Amnon has been known as a fool. How little did he realize the public stigma he would gain by his folly in the secret of his bedroom. “Fool” is certainly a fitting epitaph for Amnon.
Fourth, reputation. “No such thing ought to be done in Israel” (v. 12). This part of Tamar’s counsel says that immorality among God’s people greatly harms their testimony for God. “The sentiment was prevalent amongst the Israelites, morally imperfect as they were, that they were not to be as the nations around them; that practices prevalent elsewhere were altogether out of keeping with their position and calling” (C. Wood). That sentiment has the weight of Scripture behind it. God’s people are instructed by Scripture to live in a way that honors God. “It is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16, cp. Leviticus 11:44). Repeatedly throughout Scripture similar exhortations are found. “But fornication, and all uncleanness . . . let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3); “Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1); “Walk worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10), “as becometh saints” (Romans 16:2); and “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]” (1 Peter 1:15) are a few texts in Scripture which exhort God’s people to live like God’s people. When we sin, we are a poor testimony for God. David’s sin gave “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14), and our sin will also dishonor God. Hence, the reputation (honor) of God is at stake by our conduct. Let your conduct be of such high character that it will greatly honor God. Immorality will not, however, honor God but dishonor Him.
Fifth, remedy. “Speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee” (v. 13). Tamar shows Amnon the remedy to keep him from being a fool. Tamar wants to follow proper authority and laws in regards to sexual relations. It is true her marriage to Amnon does not meet the approval of Scripture (Leviticus 18:9), but that does not nullify the nobility of her appeal here. What she is emphasizing here is not who can or cannot be married but who can and who cannot have sex. She is emphasizing that sex should not be done except in marriage. She says sex is for marriage, not outside of marriage. She honored a very important moral truth here that many mock in our day. But you do not mock this truth without serious, harmful consequences.
4. The Portrayal in the Rape
In the introduction of this chapter, we said we would note some of the major ways in which the atrocities recorded in our text were like David’s sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah. Here we will note four major ways in which the atrocity of Tamar’s rape by Amnon portrayed David’s sin and as such would be a painful, chastening picture to David’s heart. The portrayal includes the attractiveness of the sin, the action of the sin, the advising about the sin, and the aiding of the sin. David sowed, and David reaped what he sowed, and it was a bitter reaping. Later in this chapter, when we look at another atrocity recorded in our text, we will note some more mirroring of David’s sin.
First, the attractiveness of the sin. Tamar was a beautiful woman (v. 1). Her outward beauty attracted Amnon. Bathsheba, the woman David committed adultery with was also a beautiful woman, and her beauty attracted David to her (2 Samuel 11:2). Sin is always attractive to the flesh, but we must judge conduct on its spiritual attraction, not its fleshly attraction.
Second, the action of the sin. The sin of both Amnon and David was immorality with a woman. They committed sex acts with a woman that was not their wife. It was like father, like son in this terrible sin.
Third, the advising about the sin. Amnon was counselled wisely by Tamar as to the wrong and folly of his sin, but he would not listen. David was told that Bathsheba was another man’s wife, but he did not let that fact stop his evil. God gives us ample warning about sinful conduct so that if we sin, we have absolutely no excuse. David and Amnon were given ample information to discourage their sin. But they ignored it.
Fourth, the aiding of the sin. In Amnon’s sin, David unwittingly aided in the raping of Tamar by ordering her to go to Amnon’s house. In David’s sin, David caused Uriah to unwittingly aid in his own death by having to carry David’s orders for his death to Joab.
B. THE REACTION TO THE RAPE
There were many reactions to Amnon’s rape of Tamar, and all the reactions were very pronounced. We focus on the reaction of four people who were very closely involved in the situation. They are Amnon, Tamar, Absalom, and David. Their reactions not only reveal the character of the four involved, but they also tell us much about how adversely immorality affects society.
1. The Reaction of Amnon
Amnon was such a wretch of a person, and his reaction to his rape of Tamar underscores this fact. His reaction only added to his wickedness. His reaction was threefold. It reflected the dissatisfaction, the desertion, and the defaming of sin.
The dissatisfaction of sin. “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her” (v. 15). Sin never satisfies. In the matter of sin, disappointment will always exceed delight, the losses will always exceed the gains, the sorrows will always exceed the joys, and the dishonor will always exceed the honor. We note in the dissatisfaction in Amnon’s sin the speed of the dissatisfaction, the secrecy about the dissatisfaction, and solution for dissatisfaction.
First, the speed of dissatisfaction. It generally does not take long for the sinner to discover the dissatisfaction of sin. Amnon discovered it almost instantly. As soon as he gratified his base desires, satisfaction left. Hatred quickly exceeded love in spite of the fact that his love for her had been so great that “he fell sick for his sister” (v. 2). Amnon found out quickly that “bread of deceit [or any sin] is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel” (Proverbs 20:17).
Second, the secrecy about dissatisfaction. Amnon got what he wanted in his sin, but he also got other things with his sin which he did not want. When you sin, you always get more in unwanted features than you bargained for—this is the character of sin. When it solicits you, it never shows the whole product, it nevers reads you all the fine print, and it does not tell you the whole story. But when you sin you discover all those hidden details about sin, and it is not a pleasant discovery. Many communities are finding this out about gambling. They have been told a line about how good gambling is for the community. But they have not been told all the things that come with gambling which bring problems to communities. This also happens regarding abortion, accepting homosexuals, lowering the drinking age, and other sins. Sin does not satisfy, and any advertisement to the contrary is a devilish lie, for it keeps secret the truth about the dissatisfaction of sin.
Third, the solution for dissatisfaction. The solution for avoiding dissatisfaction in the man and woman relationship is to treat one another properly. Amnon learned the hard way that you cannot mistreat the object of your affection and maintain your affections for that object. If you have a beautiful car and then take a sledge hammer and bust out all the lights and windows and bash in the top and hammer the sides with a multitude of ugly indentations, your affection for that car will greatly diminish. This explains why many husbands and wives complain of losing their love for their mate. The reason is that they have mistreated their mate so much they no longer have any affection for them just as the one who mistreated his car with the sledge hammer lost affection of his car. You can break up a real nice romance by becoming immoral with each other. Immorality will not endear your affections for each other but will diminish affection for each other.
The desertion of sin. “And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone” (v. 15). After Amnon gratified his sexual desires with Tamar, he rudely ordered her out of his presence. Sin will never stand by the sinner (or anyone hurt by the sin) when tough times come as a result of sin. Sin advertises and entices in order to get money and morals; but when it gets them, it will desert the donors. Bars advertise many attractions to get people to come to their bar to buy booze. But when a person gets drunk and runs out of money, he will get kicked out of the bar and thrown on the street. Women who give themselves to evil men are used then discarded. When sin causes problems in society, it does not volunteer funds to remedy the problems. Beware of sin’s lies. Nothing forsakes you faster than sin.
The defaming of sin. “She said unto him, There is no cause; this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me . . . Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her” (vv. 16, 17). How vile was Amnon. He rapes Tamar then tries to make it look like Tamar was the guilty one. Bolting the door really emphasized this slanderous action, for it made it look like Tamar was such a great peril that Amnon needed to take great measures to guard himself lest she attack him. Slandering Tamar in such a great way indeed makes the evil of kicking her out “greater” than the evil of rape, for it made her look like the villain in the wretched deed instead of the victim. It was bad enough to rape her, but worse to accuse her of being the cause of the vile immoral conduct.
Potiphar’s wife tried this same kind of accusation against Joseph when she accused him of trying to sexually assault her. She was the evil one and Joseph the pure one, but her slanderous accusation reversed the roles. Dissident church members also are guilty of this vile practice. They cause trouble in the church than point their finger at the pastor and say he is the troublemaker. This is what Ahab, the king of Israel, did. When Elijah came to see him, Ahab said, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). That said Elijah was the cause of Israel’s troubles. But Elijah set things straight when he said, “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim” (1 Kings 18:18). Sin wants to be kept from the blame; therefore, it will blame everyone else and especially God for the troubles which sin causes.
2. The Reaction of Tamar
Tamar’s reactions pictures what happens to society when sin rules. Four actions can be observed in her reaction that are most instructive. These actions speak of the harming of sin, the humbling of sin, the headache of sin, and the heartache of sin.
The harming of sin. “Tamar put ashes on her head” (v. 19). Ashes are all that is left of something that has been destroyed by fire. The ashes on Tamar’s head thus spoke of the utter destruction that sin brings to mankind. When evil passions are allowed to burn out of control, they will leave ashes all over society—ashes of character, of health, of peace, of purity, of happiness, and of prospects. Oh, the great harm sin brings to mankind. It leaves a wide path of utter destruction upon the physical, moral, and spiritual lives of mankind. Few sins produce so much ashes as immorality.
The humbling of sin. “Tamar . . . rent her garment of divers colors that was on her” (v. 19). Tamar “had a garment of divers colors upon her; for with such robes were the king’s daughters that were virgins apparelled” (v. 18). This beautiful garment spoke of chastity (“that were virgins”). To tear this garment was an outward indication of the loss of her chastity and of her virginity. After the rape, Tamar was no more a virgin. While her character was not muddied, her virginity, the physical evidence of her chastity, was ruined. All of this was very humbling to Tamar as it would be to any person of character. It represented some of the “shame” (v. 13) she said would come upon her if Amnon has sexual relations with her. It also represented some of the humbling that she said was involved in immorality which is seen in the words “force” (v. 12) and “forced” (v. 14) which as we pointed out earlier would be better rendered “humbled.” Amnon cruelly humbled Tamar with this vile act of immorality, and her torn garment of beauty represents that fact.
The headache of sin. “Tamar . . . laid her hand on her head” (v. 19). This action of Tamar represents the headaches that immorality brings to mankind. It brings a host of problems that do not have nice easy solutions. It leaves folks with problems they will be stuck with all their life. The victim of rape is sometimes infected with incurable venereal disease that will be a problem to her the rest of her life. Immorality by an unfaithful husband or wife will cause problems in their marriage and in their future that will dog them all their days. Churches which have had a pastor become immoral with a church member will experience problems that time will find it nearly impossible to erase. If you want to create problems that have no good solution, be immoral. That will do it every time. Immorality creates headaches of the worst and most permanent kind. Many of the headaches of our society are rooted in immoral conduct.
The heartache of sin. “Tamar . . . went on crying” (v. 19). Great sorrow came to Tamar as a result of Amnon’s wretched behavior towards her. Her sorrow was the sorrow that the innocent experience, but it also represents the sorrow that comes to all people because of immorality and because of sin in general. In eternal hell, there will be much “weeping” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13) all because of sin. The Psalmist spoke of the sorrow over law breaking: “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law” (Psalm 119:136).
Immorality may give a moment of pleasure, but it brings an eternity of sorrow. We do not read any more about Tamar’s life in Scripture after this account of her rape. But any account of her life after the rape will be one filled with sorrow, for what Amnon did to her was a gross cruelty that would hurt her the rest of her days.
It is significant that the two women named Tamar in Scripture were both involved in immorality. Besides the Tamar in our text, there was the Tamar who was Judah’s daughter-in-law (Genesis 38:11–18). These two Tamars are a contrast in character, for the Tamar of our text opposed immorality while the Tamar in the Genesis text solicited it—she played the harlot with Judah. We have too many women like the Tamar in Genesis and not enough women like the Tamar in our text.
3. The Reaction of Absalom
We now are going to meet up with the conduct of Absalom, the third son of David (1 Chronicles 3:2). Tamar was his full sister as we noted earlier. Absalom’s reaction to Amnon’s rape of his sister involved a number of actions, the final one being the murder of Amnon several years after the rape. We will study the murder reaction later under a separate point. Here we note Absalom’s initial reactions to Tamar’s rape. They include the inquiry by Absalom, the instructions from Absalom, the indifference of Absalom, and the indignation of Absalom.
The inquiry by Absalom. “Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee?” (v. 20). When Absalom met Tamar, she was crying (v. 19). This, of course, in-dicated trouble. Absalom suspected Amnon had done something to hurt her so he inquired, “Hath Amnon . . . been with thee?” This inquiry tells us that Absalom knew that Amnon was not of good character. The inquiry reveals that Amnon’s bad character was not unknown. He may not have raped anyone before, but his evil propensities were evident to others. Bad people generally reveal their bad character before they become involved in some really bad deed. Men and women who get involved in immoral conduct will before their immoral affair often give evidence that all is not right within. This fact makes David’s yielding to Amnon’s request for Tamar to come to Amnon’s house all the more condemned. David should have known, in view Amnon’s evident evil ways, that such a request was suspect. Parents can learn from this not to let their children play with other children whose reputation is not worthy, and not to allow their children to date those who are of suspicious character.
The instructions from Absalom. “Hold now thy peace, my sister; he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house” (v. 20). These instructions were deceiving, defiling, and desolating.
First, deceiving instructions. The instructions told Tamar not to do anything about the rape. Absalom tried to make it sound that it was nothing to get excited about; therefore, do not plan any revenge or even report it. These instructions were to cover up the fact that Absalom was very upset about the rape (as we will see shortly) and was planning a bloody revenge. But Absalom was not ready to show his hand yet. He wanted time to plan the revenge. In the mean time, he did not want Amnon to get suspicious of Absalom or worried about Tamar taking revenge. It would be important to Absalom’s revenge that Amnon would be off guard and unworried about revenge. So Absalom was being very deceitful when giving Tamar these instructions.
Second, defiling instructions. “Regard not this thing” makes rape a trivial offense. While Absalom was being deceitful about it, yet he would cause others to accept a defiled behavior at least for awhile. “Regard not this thing” reflects the real attitude of many in our society when it comes to immorality. It is nothing to them. They see no great evil in it, will not punish men for it, and freely practice it. But an attitude about any act of immorality which says, “Regard not this thing” is a defiling attitude. It will putrefy society with a unholy stench that will bring the judgment of God upon people. Absalom’s statement here is the devil’s statement about sin. He does not want us to get excited about sin; for if we do not take it seriously, sin can have a free hand to multiply greatly. One of our problems today is that we get very concerned about things that do not matter but not about things that do matter. As an example, we get very concerned if the church bulletin is not printed just right; but we have little concern about the worldly music that is coming into the church. Never underestimate sin. Never give way to the philosophy of the world about sin which says, “Regard not this thing.”
Third, desolating instructions. “Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house” (v. 20). The Hebrew word translated “desolate” means just that. Wilson defines it as “to be laid waste or desolate.” Absalom’s instructions left the victim of sin in sad straights. It provided no relief for her tragic experience. Anytime you diminish your concern about the seriousness of sin, you always leave the victim “desolate.” Yes, we know that Absalom eventually wanted to kill Amnon, but Tamar did not know that. So his instructions to Tamar reveal in principle what happens when sin is not treated as a serious problem. Our courts today are like Absalom’s instructions here. They do not want to “regard” evil, and so they leave the victim “desolate.” The many wrongs done against the victim do not seem to matter to our courts. The only wrongs they see are those that policemen and other law enforcing officers might do against the criminal. It is a sick emphasis and only leaves the good people in a “desolate” condition.
The indifference of Absalom. “Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad” (v. 22). “Absalom’s outward demeanor was one of utter indifference, concealing a cruel determination” (R. P. Smith). This cleverly misleading response to Amnon’s gross sin against Tamar would cause Amnon to drop his guard and be an easy target for Absalom’s murderous scheme. Amnon would not see revenge in Absalom’s countenance toward him and would thus conclude that Absalom was not upset about the rape. Absalom was quite an actor as will be seen later when he tried to overthrow David’s throne.
Though Absalom’s “neither good not bad” action was faked, yet this action is often the real action and attitude taken by many regarding evil. They will not take a stand either way. They will not oppose sin, neither will they defend it. We do not need those kind in society. The “neither good or bad” position is a position without backbone. It is the position of politicians oftentimes. It is a position that will not stop evil, for the only way you stop evil is take strong action against it. The “neither good nor bad” attitude never won any wars or had any great achievements. Many churches have also adopted this attitude, and it has nullified the effectiveness and worth of the church.
The indignation of Absalom. “Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced [humbled] his sister Tamar” (v. 22). This indignation was the real reaction of Absalom to Amnon’s incestuous rape. But for a time he concealed any outward manifestation of his rage against Amnon so he could better gain revenge on him. This hateful anger against Amnon underscores the fact that immorality does not promote accord but animosity in society. It does not unite but divides. We have already noted earlier that it kills affection between those involved. Here we note that it creates hard feelings with many other people, too. Much of the enmity in society and in the world can be attributed to bad morals. You will not read that fact in history books, of course; but the Bible gives us that helpful and instructive insight.
4. The Reaction of David
“But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth” (v. 21). David’s reaction to Amnon’s sin was inadequate and injurious.
Inadequate. David was the king and, therefore, was responsible for executing justice regarding crime in the land. But he failed to perform his duties adequately here. Being “very wroth” was not enough. The law called for something far more than being upset about the crime. The law called for the death sentence. The law said, “If a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness [engage in sexual relations], and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people; he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity” (Leviticus 20:17). “Cut off” means death. “They” of this law would not include Tamar, of course, for she was raped. But Amnon would be slain. When the death penalty is due, “very wroth” is a very poor substitute. Regarding “very wroth” but no other action, Blaikie said, “Was this all? Was no punishment found for Amnon? Was he allowed to remain in the palace, the oldest son of the king, with nothing to mark his father’s displeasure, nothing to neutralize his influence with the other royal children, nothing to prevent the repetition of his wickedness?”
David’s failure to deal adequately with Amnon reflected the fact that David was laboring under the serious handicap of having committed great sin in his own life; and though he was forgiven, he still had not gained back the spiritual strength and courage he once had and which he needed in order to deal properly with sin. “It is those whose hands are clean that can rebuke the offender. Let others try to administer reproof [and] their own hearts [will] condemn them, and they [will] shrink from the task” (Blaikie). You can mark it down that leniency in punishing crime, be it in the home or school or church or in our courts, reflects a sin problem in the lives of those who are lenient in dealing with the evil.
Injurious. Leniency in dealing with crime brings injury to society, and it certainly did here regarding Amnon. Because David would not deal properly with Amnon, a few years later Absalom murdered Amnon which caused great consternation with all the other sons of David and created great sorrow in David’s heart over the departure of Absalom (who fled for safety after the murder) from the home. We think we are so gracious and smart when we deal leniently with crime, but we are nothing of the sort. It is not gracious and smart to make things worse than they are—but that is what happens when crime is not punished properly. Failure to deal properly with crime encourages others (such as Absalom) to commit crime, and it creates many additional problems (such as the fear of Absalom by the other sons of David and the mourning of David over Absalom).
C. THE REVENGE FOR THE RAPE
Absalom, the full-brother of Tamar, took revenge on Amnon for Tamar’s rape by murdering Amnon. To study this revenge, we will look at the time of the revenge, the tactics in the revenge, the trepidation from the revenge, the tongues in the revenge, the traitor in the revenge, the tears from the revenge, the traveling after the revenge, and the trademarks of the revenge.
1. The Time of the Revenge
“And it came to pass after two full years” (v. 23) that Absalom decided to take revenge upon Amnon. Absalom’s delay in taking revenge for Tamar’s rape was to give time for Amnon to drop his guard and, therefore, be an easy target for murder. During those two years, Absalom acted indifferently towards Amnon (as we noted above) to help diminish Amnon’s concern about Absalom taking revenge against him. This apparent indifference of Absalom fattened Amnon for the kill.
Amnon’s situation depicts the situation of many sinners. Often after they have sinned, no evil seems to happens to them for some time. Rather than using that time to repent of their sin, they use it as perverted proof that their deeds were not very bad and that they need not be concerned about judgment. But then judgment suddenly comes upon them and destroys them.
2. The Tactics in the Revenge
The tactics Absalom used to take revenge upon Amnon included four significant things. They were celebration, solicitation, intoxication, and assassination.
Celebration. “Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king’s sons” (v. 23). We noted in a previous study that sheepshearing time was a time of feasting and celebration (1 Samuel 25). When one celebrated at such an occasion, friends and relatives were invited to come and celebrate by making merry in a holiday fashion. This celebration at Absalom’s place would help to cover up Absalom’s evil design of murdering Amnon.
This concealment of evil through merry-making shows a habit of Satan. He loves to picture evil as a great merry-making time in order to disguise sin’s destructive character and consequences. Satan wants sin to look like a great fun time. Gambling, as an example, is advertised this way. This beguiles people and hinders them from seeing the hook of addiction and loss.
Solicitation. “And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant. And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him; howbeit he would not go . . . Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee? But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king’s son go with him” (vv. 24–27). Absalom invited the king and all the king’s sons to the celebration. While Absalom failed to convince David to come, the inviting of David would at least help to allay any fears in Amnon about any danger at the celebration. Absalom did run into some resistance from David about allowing Amnon to come. Obviously there was some suspicion in David’s heart about Absalom’s real objective in having Amnon at the feast. But David finally relented and let Amnon attend the celebration. Two years had passed since the rape, and Absalom had evidenced (deceitfully) no outward animosity that would cause the king to strongly suspicion a revenge on the part of Absalom. So once again the king failed to discern evil. How important that we discern evil. But we cannot discern evil well if we allow our lives to be stained with sin. It will dull the sharpness of our discernment every time.
Intoxication. “Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him” (v. 28). Once again in the Bible we read of the use of intoxicating drink to perpetrate evil. We read about this when Lot’s daughters got him drunk so they could have sexual relations with him. We also read about this when David got Uriah drunk in an effort to get him to go home to Bathsheba to have relations with her which would cover up David’s adultery. Now we read about it here in Absalom’s tactic to kill Amnon. At the celebration of the sheepshearing, Absalom saw to it that Amnon drank too much. This would put Amnon really off guard and permit men to easily kill Amnon. Amnon did not use wisdom about drink, and it cost him his life. Many have been those who have done likewise.
Assassination. “Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant” (v. 28). We especially note two aspects of this assassination. They are the encouragement of it and the executors of it.
First, the encouragement of it. “Fear not, have not I commanded you, be courageous, and be valiant.” Evil loves to encourage folk to sin by cloaking it in noble garments. To encourage the assassination, Absalom cloaked this evil deed in the garment of security, legality, and nobility.
“Fear not” expressed the security. Sin always wants to encourage you by assuring you there is nothing to fear. Sin says do not fear hell, do not fear getting caught, and do not fear reprisal for your sin. But all of this talk is a lie.
“Have not I commanded thee” expressed the legality of the evil. Orders from the king’s son are akin to law. Men like to legalize sin. However, making sin legal according to men’s laws does not make sin legal before God. Legalizing sin by man simply encourages man to sin and makes it easier for man to sin.
“Be courageous, and be valiant” expressed the nobility of the evil. Evil tries to present itself as a noble deed in order to make it acceptable and thus to encourage folk to sin. So tobacco advertised itself as something the “macho” (Marlboro) man does. Homosexualism tries to make itself a respectable sexual alternative instead of a gross and filthy perversion. Gambling is made out to be a great boost to the economy, and casinos try to provide entertainment for the entire family so the vile casino can be called the nice name of “family center.” Calling evil by noble names does not diminish the corruptness of it, however; it just makes it more corrupt by making it more beguiling.
Second, the executors of the assassination. “The servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded” (v. 29). Evil never seems to lack for those who will do it. Though Absalom’s deed was a vile, wretched deed, there were those willing to carry it out. When we want to do something good, it is very hard to find those who will help us do good. But when we want to do evil, we will have plenty of folk who will assist us. Let us be the kind that is ready to help others do good rather than help others do evil. Let not evil people think they can get us to help them with their evil deeds.
3. The Trepidation From the Revenge
“Then all the king’s sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled” (v. 29). One certainly cannot blame the king’s sons for this fleeing. In those days it was not uncommon for one member of the royal family to kill off all other members of the family in order that this member could take over the government without opposition or dispute. Abimelech, a son of Gideon, did this. He took over the government of Israel for a few years by killing all the other sons of Gideon except one son who escaped from the cruel bloodshedding (Judges 9). As we noted in earlier chapters, it was also not uncommon in those days for usurpers of the throne who were not members of the royal family to kill all the royal family to open the way to the throne. So David’s sons had plenty of precedent to encourage them to flee from Absalom. They did not know that Absalom was only taking revenge on Amnon here and was not seeking the throne (he will seek the throne later, however).
Evil brings fear. It does not bring tranquility but trepidation. When crime rises in a community, fear rises. David spoke in the Psalms of this fear that sin brings upon mankind when he said, “Because of the oppression of the wicked . . . Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me” (Psalm 55:3,5). The fear in our text must not be confused, however, with the good fear which is the fear of God. The fear in our text is the fear of harm from evil men.
4. The Tongues in the Revenge
“And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left” (v. 30). Here is a good and needed lesson about false tongues. We note the problem of false tongues and the pain from false tongues.
The problem of false tongues. Some folk became very careless with the truth concerning the atrocity at Absalom’s place. Instead of reporting that only one son was slain, the report was that all were slain. It was an exaggerated report which traveled quickly throughout the land and especially to the king’s palace. Error always seems to travel quicker than truth.
This problem of the false tongue plagues our day. The problem is seen in the reporting habit of our news media. If they report fact it is by accident, for their reporting is characterized by the twisted and the biased. They major on rumors and manufactured news. Truth is continually pushed out in favor of false by the news media. But the news media is not alone in this problem. Even preachers often demonstrate this problem of the false tongue. As an example, they exaggerate in their sermon illustrations and in the report of their statistics. Truth may not be as exciting as lies (reporting that all the sons were killed was a much more exciting and attention-getting news than that only one son was killed), but it is more essential. We need a new tongues’ movement, not an unscriptural “unknown” tongues’ movement, but a tongues’ movement which emphasizes the true tongue. A tongue movement of this sort would do a lot more good than all the other tongues’ movements combined.
The pain of false tongues. “Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent” (v. 31). The agony David experienced here until he learned the truth must have been very great. For a father to lose all his sons is a crushing experience to any man. For David an added pain came in the fact that to lose all his sons meant he had no heir for his throne. David’s sorrow was extreme here, and his servants also were very sorrowful; for it could mean great trouble for them, too. False tongues cause much pain. While it may be exciting to lie, remember it brings great heartache to many—both to those who are lied about and to those who are lied to. We must control the tongue. We must be careful that what we say is the truth.
5. The Traitor in the Revenge
“And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead; for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar” (v. 32). Earlier we noted this traitor aspect of Jonadab’s character in regards to his friendship with Amnon. Here we note it again only this time in his relationship to David. Jonadab was not only a traitor to Amnon, but he was also a traitor to the king. He knew the murderous plans of Absalom, but he never bothered to inform David. Had David not been so overcome with mourning and so weakened by his own sin, he would have had Jonadab justifiably slain for his treacherous ways.
We have an obligation when we learn of evil to inform the right people and authorities about it. Keeping silent, as Jonadab did, only makes us an accomplice of the evil. Informing the proper people about the evil that is in the midst does not make one a tattletale or a talebearer. Those kind of people have trouble with both their motive and their message. Their motive is mean and selfish, and their message is filled with untruth. But informing the proper people of evil in order to stop evil is a different situation entirely.
6. The Tears From the Revenge
“And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king’s sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept; and the king also and all his servants wept very sore” (v. 36). Great sorrow came as a result of this revenge. Both David and his sons wept much over the death of Amnon. Sin brings so much sorrow. Earlier we saw this sorrow from sin when we focused on Tamar’s tears. A great many tears are found in this chapter in Scripture. But when it begins with the immorality, we should not be surprised that it is filled with tears and tears and more tears. These tears all started with David’s sin regarding Bathsheba and will continue on and on in David’s life, for you cannot separate sorrow from sin. When sin beckons with all its promises of pleasure, remember that tears from sin far exceed all the pleasures of sin.
7. The Traveling After the Revenge
“So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom” (vv. 38, 39). Geshur was a small kingdom in Syria located north of Israel. It was a logical place for Absalom to stay in exile after his murder of Amnon, for it was where the family of Absalom’s mother was located (2 Samuel 3:3). With Absalom fleeing, this revenge cost David the fellowship of two sons. He lost one son (Amnon) through death and the other son (Absalom) through departure. Absalom’s departure only added to David’s sorrow, and his heart yearningly “longed to go forth unto Absalom” (v. 38). Sin breaks up the home. David’s home is being shattered by his sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah. We hear little today about sin and the breaking up of the home. But until we address the sin problem, we will not do much about correcting the problem of the breaking up of homes.
8. The Trademarks of the Revenge
Absalom’s revenge of Amnon’s rape of Tamar was another chastening reproduction of David’s sin just as the rape of Tamar by Amnon was as we noted earlier. We note here five major trademarks of David’s sin in Absalom’s revenge. They include death, drinking, darkness, deputizing, and departure.
First, death. Death by murder was the goal and result of this revenge. In like manner, David’s adulterous evil involved death by murder. He killed Uriah to gain Bathsheba as his wife and thus cover up the conception that occurred through adultery. Nathan told David that as a result of David’s sin, “The sword shall never depart from thine house” (2 Samuel 12:10). Its bloody work began with Amnon’s murder.
Second, drinking. Absalom used drink to get Amnon set up for the murder. David also used drink to try to set up Uriah to go home and have relations with his wife. Absalom was successful in his use of booze, but David was not. But the trademark is the same, for they both used booze to promote their evil conduct.
Third, darkness. Absalom kept David in the dark about the murderous plans for Amnon so that David became an unwitting accomplice of the murder of Amnon by granting permission for Amnon to attend Absalom’s celebration. David did not realize he was being involved in bringing about the murder of his own son. Neither did Uriah realize he was carrying the message to Joab that ordered his own death. David kept Uriah in the dark just as Absalom kept David in the dark about the real intentions.
Fourth, deputizing. Absalom did not kill Amnon with his own hand but had his servants do it. And David did not kill Uriah with his own hand but had the Amorites do it. Both deputized their murder, but both were just as guilty of the murder as if they had done it with their own hands.
Fifth, departure. Absalom’s deed broke up David’s home, as we noted a bit earlier. Amnon departed through death, and Absalom departed through exile. But David by his sin had broken up Uriah’s home, and so had it coming to him. David must have agonized much within when this revenge so mirrored his own sins. But in our chastisement, God often mirrors our sins to give us agony of soul to make us loath our sin.