This week we read II Samuel Chapter 13 and learned that David's struggles with his kids were not over. Earlier in II Samuel, David had a child with Bathsheba that died after David's sinful act of taking Bathsheba and having her husband killed in war. Now, in chapter 13, we see a whole drama played out with 3 of David's kids and 1 nephew.
Absalom and Tamar are brother and sister from the same mother and children of David. Amnon is another son of David born from a different mother, and also at this point, the eldest son which has significance in the king's lineage. Then we have their 1st cousin Jonadab. The beginning of this chapter tells the story of how Amnon has inappropriate, lustful feelings for his half-sister Tamar. He makes himself sick over it and gets counsel from his cousin Jonadab about how to handle it. Jonadab recommends that he pretend to be very ill and have his father send Tamar to take care of him.
In chapters 7-14, David plays an unwilling part in this plan by granting Amnon his wish and sends for Tamar to care for and prepare food for Amnon. During this care, Amnon urges Tamar to lie with him. Tamar pleads with Amnon not to violate her and explains that it would not only make her a desolate woman (as she is a virgin and intent on staying that way until marriage), but it will also make Amnon a fool among the Israelites. We must remember that these kids are part of the Royal Family of Israel. Amnon doesn't listen to Tamar and rapes her anyways.
In the next chapters, we see how Amnon now despises Tamar and has her sent away. Tamar grieves deeply because that is a worse insult than the rape itself according to her and the culture. She runs to her brother, Absalom, tells him what happened and he shelters her for the next 2 years while not saying anything good or bad about his half-brother Amnon who did this thing to his sister. At this point, David also hears about these events, and although furious over them, he takes no action towards Amnon.
Verses 24-39 describe the events 2 years later when Absalom decides to avenge his sister. Absalom now has sheep-shearers. As part of the spring season, when the shearing of sheep happens, there is usually a large feast and celebration for the event. Absalom uses this event to urge David to bring all his sons to the feast. David declines, but after urging, allows all his sons to travel the 20 miles and be part of the feast. During the party, Absalom devises a plan with his servants to wait until Amnon is drunk and happy, then on his mark they will kill him. As planned, the servants kill Amnon and the rest of David's sons attending jump on their mules and literally 'haul ass' (get it?) out of there. News arrives to David first, that in the tragedy, all of his sons were killed. David tears his clothes and lays on the ground to mourn, then soon after, Jonadab comes and lets him know that only Amnon was killed by Absalom. The rest of David's sons arrive and we learn that Absalom flees. David mourns, but longs to go out for Absalom after finding comfort in the death of yet another son, Amnon.
From this chapter, we see a horrible scene play out between the children of David, but we also see a glimpse of David and how he has to deal with these events. When he learns his daughter was raped by his son, he gets furious but does nothing, then he gets news that his sons are killed, he mourns until he learns otherwise, then he mourns a little and wishes to see Absalom. We can't help but notice that the heart of David has been conditioned and reminded of his own sins with Bathsheba.
- As David had become comfortable as king and sinned against God by taking Bathsheba, Amnon also abuses his role to take Tamar.
- As David sinned by killing Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, Absalom sinned by killing Amnon
As Christians, we must always be mindful of where we put God in our lives. We must not be surprised that there may be times in life when those close to us may treat us poorly, but we should always ask ourselves... "Do I treat God any better when I sin against Him? When I put idols above Him? When I ignore His direction in my life and decide to do the things I want?