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The far-reaching family tragedies resulting from the rape of Tamar by Amnon!
Here in Chapter 13 we see David begin to reap the result of his sin with Bathsheba. Amnon, the half-brother of Absalom, was a wicked man and, as natural heir to the throne, was probably insufferably high-handed. He became desperately infatuated with his beautiful half-sister, Tamar, who was full sister to Absalom. Amnon made himself ill because, we read, she is a virgin, and because of this, it (13:24) "seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her." We are not told that Amnon 'loves' Tamar and wants to marry her. I believe this really means that Amnon wants to have sex with Tamar, but she is a virgin, and committed to staying so until marriage. No wonder he could not get anywhere with her and no wonder he is frustrated. His frustration has developed to the point that it is making him ill. The symptoms of this "illness" are not stated, but possible symptoms could be an upset stomach, a lack of appetite, and lack of sleep.
Jonadab could not help noting that day after day Amnon is depressed and so he asked Amnon what was wrong. Jonadab was a shrewd man, and Amnon's dilemma posed no great problem to him. First of all, he declares, is Amnon not the "son of the king" (v 44)? There seems to be an inference that, as the "son of the king," Amnon has the right and the authority to please himself, so why should he be depressed? This is suggestive of the words of wicked Jezebel to her husband Ahab (1 Kings 21:4-74):
4 So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, "I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers." And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, "How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?" 6 So he said to her, "Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, 'Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.' But he said, 'I will not give you my vineyard."' 7 Jezebel his wife said to him, "Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite"
So, with the connivance of his cousin Jonadab, he made plans to take her. As part of the plan, he feigned illness and loss of appetite. When his father visited him, he suggested that he could eat if "Tamar my sister" (13:6) prepared and served his food and so it was arranged. As soon as Amnon had Tamar alone, all subtlety disappeared. Amnon grabbed Tamar, urging her to lie with him. We have no words to suggest that he asked her to marry him - just to sleep with him. Amnon words his entreaty: "Come lie with me, my sister" (v114). Why does Amnon call attention to this fact, reminding Tamar of the very thing that should prevent him from following through with his desires? I fear the very thing that should cause him to forsake his pursuit of Tamar is that which attracts him to her. Perhaps, after learning that the fact that Bathsheba was married to Uriah did not keep David from taking her may have strengthened his desire and resolve to do the same. When "Madam Folly" seeks to entice "Mr Simple" in the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 9:13,16), she uses the fact that it is forbidden fruit as a part of her seduction (Proverbs 9:17). This should not come as a surprise to us, for Paul teaches that when the law prohibits something, sin uses that same law to entice us to do the forbidden thing:
Romans 7:7-13 (NASB) - 7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET." 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
Tamar is truly the innocent victim here. She does not encourage Amnon; in fact, she frustrates him by her resolve to remain a virgin until marriage. She has gone to Amnon's house at David's command and, when Amnon coarsely propositions her, she answers just as the Law of Moses instructed: "No, my brother," and states the reason Amnon's request is wrong. She speaks of the sexual intimacy he requests as a violation of her, and so it will be. He will do to her that which can never be undone. Her reproach can never be removed, for he has taken her virginity. She does not just plead for herself; she pleads with Amnon to act in his own interest. Raping her will make him as one of the fools in Israel. He, the king's first-born son, will become as one of the lowest men in the nation. It seems that when she sees that Amnon will not be kept from having her, she makes one final plea. Let Amnon go to his father, David, and request to marry her. Surely he will not deny him. There is a certain precedent for what she says, for Sarah is to Abraham what Tamar will be to Amnon. Sarah and Abraham have the same father but different mothers (Genesis 20:12). I do not think she wants to marry Amnon, but marriage is better than rape and dishonour. Perhaps she hopes Amnon will ask his father and be rebuked and warned never to think about such a thing again or to come near her.
Tragically, however, as soon as he had vented his lust, it turned to hatred against her and he commanded his personal servants to throw her out and lock the door behind her. From intense and unbearable attraction, Amnon's feelings toward Tamar turn to revulsion. He cannot stand the sight of this woman he has violated. Once again, Tamar resists and protests that, however evil Amnon has been in raping her, he is even more wicked in casting her off, for in so doing he makes it clear that he will not have her as his wife. She no longer has any options, so far as marriage and children are concerned. Once again, Amnon will not listen to reason or righteousness. Shamed and ruined, this young Israelite princess went through all the formal motions of mourning. She put ashes on her head, rent the beautiful garment that proclaimed her a virgin of the royal family, and with her hand on her head, went stumbling and crying aloud through the streets. Once again, we see similarities between this sin of Amnon against Tamar and the sin of David against Bathsheba and Uriah. It is bad enough for David to sleep with Bathsheba, but killing her husband is even worse. So too with Amnon's second sin of casting Tamar off after he has violated her. When Absalom found her and learned what had happened, he was furious. However, he urged her to keep quiet and let him take care of her: "So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house" (v202).
The story did get to David and we are told (v214) "he was very angry". It is evident, however, that he made no move to punish Amnon for the crime, either as father or as king. We have seen that he was unaccustomed to disciplining his children, and he was probably partially paralyzed emotionally by the memory of his own sin which Amnon could readily throw back at him. Amnon could have said: "Well, look what you did! " He was angry, but he was paralyzed when it came to taking action over the heinous thing that had happened in his own household. This speaks loudly of the necessity of leading pure and holy lives for we may be called on to counsel or judge in areas that are very sensitive in nature. If we have been guilty of these kinds of things ourselves then we will have great difficulty in drawing the line between good and evil, black and white, and everything begins to take on shades of grey when we are involved in these questionable areas because we have lost our spirit of discernment and David was now handicapped in the same way.
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