2 Samuel 13-15 Rated R: Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar

From 2 Samuel 13-15

09 10 david goliath head samuel thumbI’ve rated this post R because of the dark themes associated with it. Please skip it if you dont like reading passages in the bible alluding to sexual violence.

David had sons and daughters to the wives and concubines the LORD had blessed him with. Following his sin with Bathsheba and Uriah. His children become a significant source of division in his kingdom.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

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The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. (cf. 1 Ti 5:24)

Today’s passage is the start of the turmoil in his kingdom following his sin.

13 Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. (2 Sa 13:1)

I suspect Amnon’s understanding of love is more like lust. Time will tell. I’ve worked on this drawing to help you understand how David sits among his family.

2 And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4 And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (2 Sa 13:2-4)

Amnon was so tormented with his desire over Tamar, he became sick. He was literally sick with desire. She was a virgin and he wanted to do something to her, anything. But so far he was prevented. This will not end well.

5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’ ” 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. And when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.” (2 Sa 13:5-6)

Lies and deceit. Just like the way David tried to fool everyone over the murder and death of Uriah. Sometimes the sins of the father manifest themselves in their children. Amnon had to pretend to be sick in front of David.

What did Jonadab think Amnon would do to Tamar when she came?

David comes to check on his ‘sick’ son. He believes he is sick and grants his wish to have Tamar come and feed him.

7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes. 9 And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. (2 Sa 13:7-10)

Both David and Tamar had the best of intentions is looking after Amnon who they both thought was sick. Little did they know Amnon and Jonadab had darker plans.

After all she had done for him, how did he treat her?

11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. 13 As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. (2 Sa 13:11-14)

Amnon takes advantage of Tamar’s kindness. She pleads for herself, but he overpowers her.

The horror of this fallen world shocks us into remembering we need God to set things right.

Amnon did not love Tamar. This is not love.

15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” 16 But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. 17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” (2 Sa 13:15-17)

It gets worse and worse. His ‘love’ turns to hate. Under the Law of Moses they are technically husband and wife. Men who did this were not allowed to push them away and divorce them (Dt 22.28-29). Tamar tries to salvage what is left of her standing in society. She pleads that he not let her go. He commands the young male servant who was standing by to throw her out.

18 Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. 19 And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went. (2 Sa 13:18-19)

He violated her, took away her purity and threw out on the street.

I would have no idea how to comfort someone who had experienced this. I hope and pray the LORD can over time bring people like Tamar – peace and trust.

20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar. (2 Sa 13:20–22)

Absalom says to Tamar, ‘hold your peace’. The same expression describes what Aaron did after his sons died offering unauthorised fire before the LORD (Lev 10.3). She, like him held back strong emotions. He said, ‘do not take this to heart’. Impossible. It also seems quite inconsiderate. Absalom himself is not unaffected though.

Tamar lived a desolate woman in Absalom’s house.

He would be continually reminded of Amnon’s sin for a long long time. Absalom hated Amnon and will avenge this crime. King David hears of it, becomes very angry, but doesn’t seem to have taken any further action.

Story of Israel

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Thus begins Absalom’s descent into darkness. Perhaps in this event he lost faith in his father. David did not punish Amnon for what he had done to Tamar. Perhaps Absalom didn’t want to live under a king who would not promote justice in his kingdom. Absalom will later rebel against David.

The cry for justice continues through Israel’s history. The LORD’s prophets cried out for justice. The poor and needy especially call out to the LORD. The LORD hears their cries. His is not indifferent to them.

His response is twofold;

  1. He comforts and restores the oppressed, the needy and the poor.
  2. He punishes the wicked.

The LORD’s justice is something the world looks forward to. You want to be careful not to fall under the LORD’s judgment.

Story of Jesus

Tamar wasn’t the only person who was defiled. So was Amnon. So was Absalom. Both of these men had a different kind of defilement though. One of the heart. Jesus knew of this kind and warned against it.

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mk 7:14–23)

Amnon and Absalom were both defiled in their hearts. Amnon through his sexual immorality, wickedness and deceit. Absalom through anger and murder. There is not much good that comes out of this horrible story. Perhaps only the knowledge that when Jesus comes back he will set this world right and justice will be done.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (Jn 5:25–29)

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