Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Under the King’s Nose
***Video is HERE***
Thru the Bible: 2Sam. 13-15
2 Samuel 13:1-39, – Amnon and Tamar
Amnon was David’s firstborn son, born to him while David was only king in Hebron. He was born to him from Ahinoam the Jezreelite. 2Samuel 3:2 at his birth was both the first and the last time we heard his name until now as a man.
“(1) Some time passed.
David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and David’s son Amnon was infatuated with her.
(2) Amnon was frustrated to the point of making himself sick over his sister Tamar because she was a virgin, but it seemed impossible to do anything to her.”
The words here “do anything TO her” is an unfortunate translation but is essentially accurate in that he wanted to have sex with her. From the following verses it seems as if he had deserted it to be consensual but his intense passion for her was such that her consent was clearly optional.
“(3) Amnon had a friend named Jonadab, a son of David’s brother Shimeah [this was his 1st cousin]. Jonadab was a very shrewd man, (4) and he asked Amnon,
“Why are you, the king’s son, so miserable every morning? Won’t you tell me?”
Amnon replied, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” [Tamar was a step sister in that she was David’s daughter by Maacah]
“(5) Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend you’re sick. When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare food in my presence so I can watch and eat from her hand.'”
(6) So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my presence so I can eat from her hand.”
(7) David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Please go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare a meal for him.”
Here you can see that even in a royal household, gender roles were still observed. Amnon had servants and could just as easily had one of them prepare food for him had he really been sick, but this desire to be cared for by a female relative would most likely not have appeared odd, nor was it an unusual request which was beneath her dignity.
She was a woman of Israel in the house of David and so such duties were in some ways incumbent upon her.
“(8) Then Tamar went to his house while Amnon was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his presence, and baked them. (9) She brought the pan and set it down in front of him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Everyone leave me!” And everyone left him. (10) “Bring the meal to the bedroom,” Amnon told Tamar, “so I can eat from your hand.” Tamar took the cakes she had made and went to her brother Amnon’s bedroom. (11) When she brought them to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come sleep with me, my sister!” (12) “Don’t, my brother!” she cried. “Don’t humiliate me, for such a thing should never be done in Israel. Don’t do this horrible thing! (13) Where could I ever go with my disgrace? And you–you would be like one of the immoral men in Israel! Please, speak to the king, for he won’t keep me from you.” (14) But he refused to listen to her, and because he was stronger than she was, he raped her.”
This is a clear picture of the way marriage and worship to God was viewed. For Tamar, and for any godly woman in Israel, personal desire in regard to marriage was at best a secondary issue. They were keenly aware that God created woman for man. Therefore, that was a primary concern and obligation. Whether she cared for Amnon in a way which could have been viewed as leaning toward matrimony is unspoken and therefore unknown.
As you can see, her first concern was for propriety, conformity to the law and honor (of God, country, king and personal). She was not refusing Amnon, she simply suggested that he ask David to give her to him in marriage – then he could be intimate with her to his heart’s content.
Amnon’s love for her was clearly selfish, though maybe not entirely lust. People often are in love with the visions they create in their infatuation and lust that when realized, do not live up to the fantasy. Amnon, had fixated on her for so long and with such intensity it nearly made him physically sick. Human love and hatred are more closely related in the heart than most would care to realize and this is what we see here with Amnon.
“(15) After this, Amnon hated Tamar with such intensity that the hatred he hated her with was greater than the love he had loved her with. “Get out of here!” he said. (16) “No,” she cried, “sending me away is much worse than the great wrong you’ve already done to me!” But he refused to listen to her. (17) Instead, he called to the servant who waited on him: “Throw this woman out and bolt the door behind her!” (18) Amnon’s servant threw her out and bolted the door behind her. Now Tamar was wearing a long-sleeved garment, because this is what the king’s virgin daughters wore. (19) Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long-sleeved garment she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away weeping.”
This was a profound evil, but one that could have been easily rectified. Tamar was more disturbed by the shame of being turned away than for the shame of being violated. In these circumstances, there was a provision in the law which would have satisfied justice and saved Tamar both shame and the life of a spinster.
Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 22:28-30, to read the law regarding a happening such as this…
“(28) If a man encounters a young woman, a virgin who is not engaged, takes hold of her and rapes her, and they are discovered, (29) the man who raped her must give the young woman’s father 50 silver shekels, and she must become his wife because he violated her. He cannot divorce her as long as he lives. (30) “A man is not to marry his father’s wife; he must not violate his father’s marriage bed.”
Tamar could have instigated this, so could have Absalom or even David…but as it is she remained in the position of being unmarriable in Israel and that was the greatest shame of all for Tamar. She could not bear children in Israel and that was to many women worse than death.
“(20) Her brother Absalom said to her: “Has your brother Amnon been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister. He is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in the house of her brother Absalom. (21) When King David heard about all these things, he was furious. (22) Absalom didn’t say anything to Amnon, either good or bad, because he hated Amnon since he disgraced his sister Tamar.”
Absalom Murders Amnon
“(23) Two years later, Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal-hazor near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. (24) Then he went to the king and said, “Your servant has just hired sheepshearers. Will the king and his servants please come with your servant?”
(25) The king replied to Absalom, “No, my son, we should not all go, or we would be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he wasn’t willing to go, though he did bless him. (26) “If not,”Absalom said, “please let my brother Amnon go with us.” The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” (27) But Absalom urged him, so he sent Amnon and all the king’s sons.”
It seems unlikely that David did not anticipate foul-play, especially when he asked why it was so important that Amnon attend, when all the other brothers were already coming. It seems natural that Amnon should be included – so why the question unless David suspected something…and if he did, why did he comply or why did he not send with Amnon someone to watch over his safety?
Clearly Absalom believed his actions would not be disapproved by the king OR he had intended to kill his father King David at the feast as well – though this later thought is neither hinted at nor implied. So it is most likely that Absalom believed he was doing a service which he believed David would support but could not execute on his own as both father and king. This is important however, in that it gives some possible insight as to why it appears that Absalom grows to hate his father later on.
“(28) Now Absalom commanded his young men, “Watch Amnon until he is in a good mood from the wine. When I order you to strike Amnon, then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Am I not the one who has commanded you? Be strong and courageous!” (29) So Absalom’s young men did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded. Then all the rest of the king’s sons got up, and each fled on his mule.
(30) While they were on the way, a report reached David: “Absalom struck down all the king’s sons; not even one of them survived!”
(31) In response the king stood up, tore his clothes, and lay down on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn.
(32) But Jonadab, son of David’s brother Shimeah, spoke up: “My lord must not think they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, because only Amnon is dead. In fact, Absalom has planned this ever since the day Amnon disgraced his sister Tamar. (33) So now, my lord the king, don’t take seriously the report that says all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”
Absalom Flees to Geshur
“(34) Meanwhile, Absalom had fled. When the young man who was standing watch looked up, there were many people coming from the road west of him from the side of the mountain. (35) Jonadab said to the king, “Look, the king’s sons have come! It’s exactly like your servant said.”
(36) Just as he finished speaking, the king’s sons entered and wept loudly. Then the king and all his servants also wept bitterly. (37) Now Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.
(38) Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur where he stayed three years.
(39) Then King David longed to go to Absalom, for David had finished grieving over Amnon’s death.”
Even though the sin Absalom committed was grievous, a father’s love is greater and so after he had grieved for Amnon, he grieved for Absalom.
If David had been thinking clearly, OR if he had not known the laws regarding such situations – if he had but just consulted with the priests regarding what the law commanded – all of this could have been avoided and Absalom’s anger would likely have ever been kindled to this intensity. As it was, his anger and plotting for revenge took a full 2 years from the incident.
So the following events transpired 3 years later and 5 years from the initial problem. Also we witness the continuing relationship Joab had with King David. We’ve seen several disagreements over the years and even heighend and negative emotions, but these men’s hearts grew close and there was genuine concern for each other at least on some level. Again, this reveals the sort of man and ruler David was both in the extent of Joab’s actions for David and in David’s reaction.
2 Samuel 14:1-33 – Absalom Returns to Jerusalem
“(1) Joab son of Zeruiah observed that the king’s mind was on Absalom.
(2) So Joab sent someone to Tekoa to bring a clever woman from there. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning: dress in mourning clothes and don’t put on any oil. Act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for a long time. (3) Go to the king and speak these words to him.” Then Joab told her exactly what to say.
(4) When the woman from Tekoa came to the king, she fell with her face to the ground in homage and said,
“Help me, my king!”
(5) “What’s the matter?” the king asked her.
“To tell the truth, I am a widow; my husband died,” she said. (6) “Your servant had two sons. They were fighting in the field with no one to separate them, and one struck the other and killed him. (7) Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant and said, ‘Hand over the one who killed his brother so we may put him to death for the life of the brother he murdered. We will destroy the heir!’ They would extinguish my one remaining ember by not preserving my husband’s name or posterity on earth.”
Here we have David again making judicial decisions without consulting the law. As was nearly always the case, the law clearly addresses this subject and clearly speaks to the necessary judgement that needed to ensure in order to honor God and His ways.
Exodus 21:12-13, “(12) Whoever strikes a person so that he dies must be put to death. (13) But if he didn’t intend any harm, and yet God caused it to happen by his hand, I will appoint a place for you where he may flee.”
As such, the story of this woman should have sponsored questions to clarify what happened and then a quick command to summon her son either to justice or to be escorted to a city of refuge. As it was, he allowed himself to be pulled into the story and made a decision with only the welfare of this woman – the mother in mind – rather than the justice of God.
If that had been the way this played out, then it is possible that David may have acted differently in regard to Absalom and repented himself. As it was however, sin was compounded upon sin in the following decisions and that led to division and both in the family and in the nation.
“(8) The king told the woman, “Go home. I will issue a command on your behalf.”
(9) Then the woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord the king, may any blame be on me and my father’s house, and may the king and his throne be innocent.”
(10) “Whoever speaks to you,” the king said, “bring him to me. He will not trouble you again!”
(11) She replied, “Please, may the king invoke the LORD your God, so that the avenger of blood will not increase the loss, and they will not eliminate my son!”
“As the LORD lives,” he vowed, “not a hair of your son will fall to the ground.”
(12) Then the woman said, “Please, may your servant speak a word to my lord the king?”
“Speak,” he replied.
(13) The woman asked, “Why have you devised something similar against the people of God? When the king spoke as he did about this matter, he has pronounced his own guilt. The king has not brought back his own banished one. (14) For we will certainly die and be like water poured out on the ground, which can’t be recovered. But God would not take away a life; He would devise plans so that the one banished from Him does not remain banished. (15) “Now therefore, I’ve come to present this matter to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought: I must speak to the king. Perhaps the king will grant his servant’s request. (16) The king will surely listen in order to rescue his servant from the hand of this man who would eliminate both me and my son from God’s inheritance. (17) Your servant thought: May the word of my lord the king bring relief, for my lord the king is able to discern the good and the bad like the Angel of God. May the LORD your God be with you.”
(18) Then the king answered the woman, “I’m going to ask you something; don’t conceal it from me!”
“Let my lord the king speak,” the woman replied.
(19) The king asked, “Did Joab put you up to all this?”
The woman answered. “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or left from all my lord the king says. Yes, your servant Joab is the one who gave orders to me; he told your servant exactly what to say. (20) Joab your servant has done this to address the issue indirectly, but my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the Angel of God, knowing everything on earth.”
(21) Then the king said to Joab, “I hereby grant this request. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”
(22) Joab fell with his face to the ground in homage and praised the king. “Today,” Joab said, “your servant knows I have found favor with you, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant.”
(23) So Joab got up, went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. (24) However, the king added, “He may return to his house, but he may not see my face.”
So Absalom returned to his house, but he did not see the king.
(25) No man in all Israel was as handsome and highly praised as Absalom. From the sole of his foot to the top of his head, he did not have a single flaw. (26) When he shaved his head–he shaved it every year because his hair got so heavy for him that he had to shave it off–he would weigh the hair from his head and it would be five pounds according to the royal standard.
(27) Three sons were born to Absalom, and a daughter named Tamar, who was a beautiful woman. (28) Absalom resided in Jerusalem two years but never saw the king.
(29) Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab was unwilling to come. So he sent again, a second time, but he still wouldn’t come. (30) Then Absalom said to his servants, “See, Joab has a field right next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set fire to it!” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
(31) Then Joab came to Absalom’s house and demanded, “Why did your servants set my field on fire?”
(32) “Look,” Absalom explained to Joab, “I sent for you and said, ‘Come here. I want to send you to the king to ask: Why have I come back from Geshur? I’d be better off if I were still there.’ So now, let me see the king. If I am guilty, let him kill me.”
(33) Joab went to the king and told him. So David summoned Absalom, who came to the king and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.”
Other than these brief facts we know nothing of what transpired in this encounter, only that we may conclude it was not to Absalom’s satisfaction which is made clear by his following actions.
2 Samuel 15:1-37 – Absalom is a political opportunist and David is blind
“(1) After this, Absalom got himself a chariot, horses, and 50 men to run before him. (2) He would get up early and stand beside the road leading to the city gate.
Whenever anyone had a grievance to bring before the king for settlement, Absalom called out to him and asked, “What city are you from?”
If he replied, “Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel,”
(3) Absalom said to him, “Look, your claims are good and right, but the king does not have anyone to listen to you.” (4) He added, “If only someone would appoint me judge in the land. Then anyone who had a grievance or dispute could come to me, and I would make sure he received justice.”
(5) When a person approached to bow down to him, Absalom reached out his hand, took hold of him, and kissed him. (6) Absalom did this to all the Israelites who came to the king for a settlement. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
While there was obviously more to what happened in each case than is mentioned here, it seems as if what is being put forward is that an exchange similar to this one was always his response – regardless of the details of the complaint. Also, rather than allow homage to be paid to him, being the son of the King, Absalom attempted to treat each Isrelite as an equal. While there is a place for that – as David always made himself approachable, he also allowed people to show respect to the authority God placed upon him in his position as king.
People like to be treated as important and even more as being right -so Absalom played the people into loving him.
All of this was bad enough, but from what we read here – David allowed this lie and sidestepping of justice to go unanswered and that for 4 full years!
Clearly David DID have time to listen to grievances – as the example mentioned earlier which resulted in Absalom’s return from Geshur. As we will see in the following verses, David had his informants and so HAD to know this was happening and allowed it by failing to confront it. In this David did not do wisely!
All of us have our strengths and weaknesses. David clearly had the fortitude, inner strength and skill to fight and win against thousands in battle – but in his own home, David did not command his children with a strong hand. He not only allowed his sons to make a mockery of him, he handed the kingdom over to Absalom without even a fight. God had spent lives giving the kingdom to David and David did nothing to protect it from within.
“(7) When four years had passed, Absalom said to the king, “Please let me go to Hebron to fulfill a vow I made to the Lord. (8) For your servant made a vow when I lived in Geshur of Aram, saying: If the LORD really brings me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the LORD in Hebron.” (9) “Go in peace,” the king said to him. So he went to Hebron.
(10) Then Absalom sent messengers throughout the tribes of Israel with this message: “When you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, you are to say, ‘Absalom has become king in Hebron!'”
(11) Two hundred men from Jerusalem went with Absalom. They had been invited and were going innocently, for they knew nothing about the whole matter.
(12) While he was offering the sacrifices, Absalom sent for David’s adviser Ahi-tho-phel the Gilonite, from his city of Giloh. So the conspiracy grew strong, and the people supporting Absalom continued to increase.”
David Flees Jerusalem
“(13) Then an informer came to David and reported, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”
(14) David said to all the servants with him in Jerusalem, “Get up. We have to flee, or we will not escape from Absalom! Leave quickly, or he will overtake us, heap disaster on us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
(15) The king’s servants said to him, “Whatever my lord the king decides, we are your servants.”
(16) Then the king set out, and his entire household followed him. But he left behind 10 concubines to take care of the palace.
(17) So the king set out, and all the people followed him. They stopped at the last house (18) while all his servants marched past him. Then all the Cherethites, the Pelethites, and the Gittites–600 men who came with him from Gath–marched past the king.
(19) The king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also going with us? Go back and stay with the king since you’re both a foreigner and an exile from your homeland. (20) Besides, you only arrived yesterday; should I make you wander around with us today while I go wherever I can? Go back and take your brothers with you. May the LORD show you kindness and faithfulness.”
(21) But in response, Ittai vowed to the king, “As surely as the LORD lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether it means life or death, your servant will be there!”
(22) “March on,” David replied to Ittai. So Ittai the Gittite marched past with all his men and the children who were with him.
(23) Everyone in the countryside was weeping loudly while all the people were marching past. As the king was crossing the Kidron Valley, all the people were marching past on the road that leads to the desert.
(24) Zadok was also there, and all the Levites with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set the ark of God down, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until the people had finished marching past.
(25) Then the king instructed Zadok, “Return the ark of God to the city. If I find favor in the LORD’s eyes, He will bring me back and allow me to see both it and its dwelling place. (26) However, if He should say, ‘I do not delight in you,’ then here I am–He can do with me whatever pleases Him.”
(27) The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Look, return to the city in peace and your two sons with you: your son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan. (28) Remember, I’ll wait at the fords of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.”
(29) So Zadok and Abiathar returned the ark of God to Jerusalem and stayed there.
(30) David was climbing the slope of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he ascended. His head was covered, and he was walking barefoot. Each of the people with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they ascended.
(31) Then someone reported to David: “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.”
“LORD,” David pleaded, “please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”
(32) When David came to the summit where he used to worship God, there to meet him was Hushai the Archite with his robe torn and dust on his head. (33) David said to him, “If you go away with me, you’ll be a burden to me, (34) but if you return to the city and tell Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, my king! Previously, I was your father’s servant, but now I will be your servant,’ then you can counteract Ahithophel’s counsel for me. (35) Won’t Zadok and Abiathar the priests be there with you? Report everything you hear from the king’s palace to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. (36) Take note: their two sons, Zadok’s son Ahimaaz and Abiathar’s son Jonathan, are there with them. Send me everything you hear through them.”
(37) So Hushai, David’s personal adviser, entered Jerusalem just as Absalom was entering the city.”
These events illustrate some very powerful and important life lessons. It doesn’t always require an action of sin to cause one’s life story to head down the wrong path. Many times it happens by NOT taking action.
It is more than just possible that David’s failure to address Amnon’s sin is the very thing which set the rest of these events in motion. Without that one simple neglection of duty, it is quite possible that Amnon, Tamar, Absalom and Israel’s story during these years would have turned out considerably different. No man lives to himself alone!
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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