2 Samuel 13:David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her. 2 Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4 He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” 5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’ ” 6 So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.” 7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9 Then she took the pan and set them out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! 13 As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her. 15 Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, “Get out!” 16 But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.” But he would not listen to her. 17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” 18 (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. 19 But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went. 20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn. 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar.
Given the long and noteworthy life of King David, there is only a very small fraction of his life recorded in the bible. Hence there is assumed to be great care and discretion in deciding which parts of David’s life are included and which are not. Therefore, the question that emerges for me this morning is – why? Why is this story included in the book of 2 Samuel when so many other stories likely are not?
I’m sure there are many possible answers to my question, but I personally believe this story is told to remind us of several important truths:
- David was one who knew God intimately, was highly favored of God and enjoyed rich blessing with God. Yet, David was NOT immune to the kinds of dysfunctions and messiness which are part of the human experience.
- David demonstrated incredible wisdom and insight on many occasions, particularly as it related to his role as king and commander-in-chief of the armies. However, as we see in this and other stories, David’s stewardship of his own family was suspect.
- Finally, I will quote a dear friend and fellow pastor, “The stories of King David’s family are brutal. Their inclusion in scripture reminds us that difficult and painful chapters of life are enfolded into the story of God and God’s people. When bad things happen to us, our tendency is to imagine that God has withdrawn from us. David’s story reminds us that God is complicated and present, even in hard chapters”
One could say that God had every right to reject David as king, as God had done to Saul. But God didn’t do that – to David or to you and me. Even when we make huge mistakes in life, mismanage what we’ve been given, the Lord remains. It’s as Jesus said in Matthew 28, “Remember I am with you always to the end of the age.” Praise be to God.