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Posts Tagged ‘Tamar and Absalom’

Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her. (2 Samuel 13:1)

Last week we studied about a woman named Tamar. She was Judah’s daughter-in-law and we read her story in Genesis 38. This week we are looking at the story of another Tamar – a descendant of our first Tamar. This Tamar was the daughter of King David. Her story is in 2Samuel 13.

Tamar was a beautiful woman, so beautiful that her half-brother, Amnon, fell in love with her. He wanted her badly and became depressed when he couldn’t get her.

Absalom and Amnon had different mothers and so they were half brothers. Tamar was Amnon’s half-davids_generations3sister. Today we would consider this too close of a relationship for marriage, but in times past people married into closer relationships.

Amnon was so in love with Tamar and so frustrated that he couldn’t get her that he made himself sick. A friend of his came up with a solution, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.’” (2 Samuel 13:5)

King David heard that Amnon was ill and went to see him. He agreed to send for Tamar to go and serve Amnon.

Tamar suspected nothing; after all Amnon was her brother. She made food for him with her own hands. When she tried to serve it to him he said he wasn’t hungry and sent everyone else out of the room. He asked Tamar to lie with him.

Tamar resisted, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing!” She begged him to consider the shame that would be upon her as well as the guilt that he would bear. She even offered to marry him.

Amnon-ama-a-TamarAmnon would not listen to her. He could not overcome his passion. He was stronger than Tamar and he forced her to lie with him. Afterwards, he “hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.” (2 Samuel 13:15) Then Amnon told Tamar to go away. He treated Tamar as if the whole incident was her fault. His guilt transformed into hatred for his sister.

Tamar protested again. “No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Tamar was reminding Amnon of the law as given in Deuteronomy 22:28,29. If a man lay with a virgin, especially if he forced her, he was supposed to marry her. Tamar was trying to get Amnon to do the right thing. He refused.

Tamar went away crying. She tore her garment and threw ashes on her head. These were the traditional actions when a person was grieving or distressed. Absalom noticed his sister’s sorrow and guessed that Amnon was to blame. He told Tamar to hold her peace for a while. He would take care of it. Tamar, desolated, remained in Absalom’s house.

King David heard of this terrible matter and was very angry. Apparently neither he nor Absalom spoke to Amnon about it for two full years. We are not sure about what happened to Tamar after this. Perhaps as a disgraced woman she just remained single living in her brother’s home until she died. She had no hope unless her brother Absalom or her father King David vindicated her. Apparently neither did. Of course Amnon could have confessed and done the right thing. But he refused.

After about two years, Absalom took vengeance on Amnon. He had Amnon murdered. Then Absalom had to flee the country. David mourned for his sons for the next three years.

Absalom’s wicked way of dealing with this tragedy would lead to his estrangement from his father, King David, and have far reaching consequences for Israel’s leaders. The fighting would continue and eventually Absalom would be killed. How much better it would have been if he would have tried to help his sister and his half-brother. Later Absalom would name his daughter after his sister, Tamar (2Samuel 14:27). Compared to what he allowed to happen to Tamar, this doesn’t seem like much of a gesture.

Why didn’t King David do something about Tamar? Perhaps Amnon’s sin reminded David of his own sin with Bathsheba. (See the story about David and Bathsheba in 2Samuel 11). Maybe he could not find it in himself to condemn his son for something he did himself. If King David had made Amnon marry Tamar as the law called for Amnon would not have died and Absalom would not have fled the country. What a mess Amnon caused. But some of it could have been salvaged if the men would have been thinking about Tamar and her needs.

Tamar’s story is a tragic one. We know from her words to Amnon that she must have been a woman of courage and high principles. She sought to keep her virginity by pleading with her half-brother. Even after the brutal rape, Tamar sought to get Amnon to do the right thing. He probably was not her first choice for a husband, but she would have obeyed God’s law. She was sensitive to Amnon’s needs as well. She sought to prevent him from having to live the rest of his life full of guilt.

What can we learn from Tamar’s life? We must trust God even when things don’t seem right. Sometimes terrible things happen to good people. We do not always understand these things but we know that God has a purpose. James tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2,3) While we are experiencing the trial, this is hard to do. We will not know until we get to Heaven and can ask Tamar what happened to her.

At least Tamar could live the rest of her life knowing that she had tried to be obedient to God. Her life must have been hard, but she had peace with the Lord. This is something to remember when someone commits a wrong against us and we don’t get human justice. We can look to Tamar as an example of faithfulness during hardship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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