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The prophesied judgment by Nathan on David is fulfilled
All the events from 2 Samuel 11:1-12:26, fall between chapters 19:19 and 20:1 in First Chronicles. Chapter 20:1-3 duplicates, the story of the siege and capture of Rabbah. Not only is the account of David's sin and judgment omitted from Chronicles, but all the events recorded in 2 Samuel 13:1-21:17 also do not appear there. Even though the author of Chronicles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, saw fit to pass over these occurrences as being irrelevant to his theme, they are important to our general history and survey and we see them as they are recorded in 2 Samuel.
In 2 Samuel 13, we are introduced to some of the children of David. In 2 Samuel 3:2-3, we were given a list of the six sons born to David (each by a different wife) during his reign in Hebron. In order of birth, the first four of these were: Amnon, the first-born who would have been considered heir to the throne; second-born was Chiliab (also called Daniel, see I Chron. 3:1), of whom little is known; Absalom, the third son born in Hebron, and the fourth-born Adonijah, who both aspired to the throne of their father although we know that there was not to be a dynastic succession to David's throne, based on the first born, for this was not in the will of God and Solomon was the chosen son to follow David. As princes these young men were accustomed to being catered to and having whatever they wanted, which probably made them quite spoiled, proud, and haughty. Later, in 1 Kings 1:62, in connection with Adonijah, we read that he had never been subject to parental rebuke or discipline: "His father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?" Perhaps this was David's normal pattern of parenting. In these sons, David reaped the fruit of his sin. Even though forgiven of his sin, he still reaped the fulfillment of God's judgment on his family, as pronounced through Nathan.
In this first tragedy in David's family, a number of people who were members of the royal family, or in close proximity to them (i.e. servants), were involved, willingly or not. Characters in this plot include David; Jonadab, David's nephew, son of David's third brother, Shimeah; Amnon, David's first-born son of Ahinoam; and Tamar and Absalom, daughter and son of Maacah, David's third wife (who was the daughter of Talmai, the king of Geshur). It started with Amnon, David's first-born son by Ahinoam David's second wife, the first to bear him a son. We know that Michal is David's first wife, given by Saul and then taken away by Saul, and finally taken back by David, who never bore David a child (2 Samuel 6:23). This made Amnon, the first-born of David, and the most likely successor to David's throne as king of Israel, according to the custom of the day. Tamar and her brother Absalom were the children of David's wife, Maacah, who was also the daughter of the king of Geshur.
Amnon's serious problem was that he "fell in love" with his beautiful half-sister, Tamar. It is noteworthy that four times in our text the word "love" is used. It is clear that the "love" of Amnon is little more than lust, and yet these four times the translators of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, used the Greek word agapao. When we know that "agape love" is a divine love, the highest form of love, we should take note that this is not consistent with the use of the word either in the Septuagint or in the New Testament and that over-simplified direct translations can sometimes convey the wrong idea. We also note that, according to the Law of Moses, there is no way Amnon could have this woman as his wife:
17 'If there is a man who takes his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister's nakedness; he bears his guilt (Leviticus 20:174).
One of those who learn what happened is Absalom, Tamar's (full) brother. He lets Tamar know that he knows what Amnon has done to her, and then he does something quite surprising - nothing, or so it seems. He seems to tell her that this is something to be kept secret, within the family. On the surface, David's response to the news of his daughter's rape seems similar to that of Absalom. David does not seem to conceal his anger, however. The author tells us that David is fully aware of all that took place (verse 21) and we read this troubling words about David: 'Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry' (2 Samuel 13:214). It appears that David does absolutely nothing and we ask ourselves why? Is David unable to get the kind of testimony the law requires? Possibly, but this does not seem likely. Is David fearful of being hypocritical? How can he punish his son for doing what he has done? Or, is David reluctant because he is partly guilty as well? After all, he is the one who ordered Tamar to go to Amnon's house. These words in verse 21 follow not only the account of Amnon's sin, but also of Absalom's interference:
Then Absalom her brother said to her, "Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart." So Tamar remained and was desolate in her brother Absalom's house (2 Samuel 13:204).
When we consider how biblical justice would have dealt with case of the rape of Tamar we might think that Amnon, like his father David, would be deserving of the death penalty, but this is not the case, because David committed adultery with a married woman. Amnon raped a virgin and the law was clear about the penalty in such cases:
16 "If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. 17 "If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins (Exodus 22:16-174).
28 "If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days (Deuteronomy 22:28-294).
Tamar begged Amnon to ask David for her as his wife, and Amnon refused. At the very least, Amnon should have married Tamar after he raped her. This was, in fact, what the law prescribed. Only David's refusal of such a marriage would have prevented it. There is, of course, the matter of Tamar being Amnon's half-sister. This presents a problem, but if they had married, she would have been to Amnon exactly what Sarah was to Abraham, a wife who was also a half-sister. If we set this question aside and assume that a marriage was possible, as Tamar assumed, why then did this not happen? We ask ourselves: why didn't Amnon marry Tamar? It is clear in the story that he wanted nothing more to do with Tamar. This alone would not have prevented the marriage, for Amnon would have had no choice in the matter. What kept Amnon from marrying Tamar was the interference of Absalom, Tamar's brother. It is clear from our text that Absalom had a different punishment in mind, as we learn later:
Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, responded, "Do not let my lord suppose they have put to death all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead; because by the intent of Absalom this has been determined since the day that he violated his sister Tamar (13:324).
Absalom hated his half-brother Amnon for what he had done to his sister, Tamar. He had no intention of letting him off as easily as the law would have done. From the day Tamar was raped, Absalom purposed to kill Amnon. It was only a matter of time and opportunity. That is why Absalom acted as we read in verse 20. He told his sister to keep quiet and leave this matter within the family. In other words, she was not to accuse Amnon of this sin. In the legal language of our time, she was not to press charges. She was to leave this matter to Absalom. Furthermore, Absalom took Tamar into his own home, where she remained tragically desolate the rest of her life. Initially we may think that Absalom did what he did for his sister's benefit, but there is an underlying tone which convinces many commentators that Absalom sacrificed the interests of his sister for his own interest of getting revenge. Absalom's actions paved the way for him to murder Amnon. They prevented Tamar from marriage and children. They prevented David from taking action under the Law of Moses. No wonder David was angry when he heard of all these matters. He was angry because his hands were tied in terms of dealing with Amnon's sin. The rape of Tamar was perhaps a partially unsubstantiated rumour. His hands were tied by Absalom. David was ultimately angry, yet helpless angry, not only at what Amnon had done, but at what Absalom had done as well. It does seem as though David may have ranted and raved in his anger, even if he did not deal with Amnon as he should have. But Absalom seems to be the essence of self-control. He conceals his hatred and anger and acts as if nothing has happened. But in his heart he has already purposed to make Amnon pay for ruining his sister's life. He has the motive and all he needs is the means and the opportunity. That will come in two years time. Until then, Absalom does not so much as speak to Amnon. He treats him as though he doesn't exist, for he has determined that soon he will not exist as Uriah was removed by his father after his sin!
When two years had passed and the opportunity came for Absalom to take Amnon's life, he accomplished this by making David an unwitting, though somewhat reluctant, accomplice. As Amnon deceived David in getting him to send Tamar to his bedside, so Absalom deceived David by getting him to send Amnon to his farm. Sheep-shearing time had come and Absalom, like many others, finished the task and planned to celebrate. He knew his father, king David, could appreciate such things, not only as a former shepherd boy but also from his experiences in the more recent past (cf. 1 Samuel 25:2ff.) And this was all the pretext Absalom had been seeking (2 Samuel 13:23-334):
23 Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 24 And Absalom came to the king and said, "Behold now, your servant has sheepshearers; please let the king and his servants go with your servant." 25 But the king said to Absalom, "No, my son, we should not all go, lest we be burdensome to you." Although he urged him, he would not go, but blessed him. 26 Then Absalom said, "If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us." And the king said to him, "Why should he go with you?" 27 But when Absalom urged him, he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. 28 And Absalom commanded his servants, saying, "See now, when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, 'Strike Amnon,' then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant." 29 And the servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose and each mounted his mule and fled. 30 Now it was while they were on the way that the report came to David, saying, "Absalom has struck down all the king's sons, and not one of them is left." 31 Then the king arose, tore his clothes and lay on the ground; and all his servants were standing by with clothes torn. 32 And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, responded, "Do not let my lord suppose they have put to death all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead; because by the intent of Absalom this has been determined since the day that he violated his sister Tamar. 33 "Now therefore, do not let my lord the king take the report to heart, namely, 'all the king's sons are dead,' for only Amnon is dead."
(Continued on page 573)