The messiness of being human…

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2 Samuel 13:1 Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her. 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. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. 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.” 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.’ ” 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.” 

Amnon lured Tamar into his room and proceeded to rape her. It’s an awful story found in the rest of chapter 13. “What led to this?” you may ask. In chapters 11 and 12 King David had a child out of wedlock with Bathsheba (a woman who was totally innocent throughout), the wife of a man named Uriah, whom David had killed. It’s a tawdry story that reflects poorly on David, God’s anointed king. As punishment for his sins, God told David the child he conceived with Bathsheba would die – which it did. There was more tragedy to come for David as we read in chapter 13 and beyond.

What I appreciate about this awful story is the fact it was not omitted from scripture. David is a hero of the faith in the Jewish and Christian traditions, but he was not without fault. It would have been easy to white-wash the narrative to present David as more virtuous than he was, but that’s not what happened. David experienced failure, disappointment, tragedy, grief, and loss like everyone else. Stories like this one make David real for me, which I appreciate.

Lord have mercy on us all as you had on David. Amen.

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