Those were David’s own words against the rich man who’d been accused of stealing the poor man’s ewe lamb. God’s Law did indeed provide for such restitution. “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. Exodus 22:1 esv
Little did David know, however, that when he uttered that judgment that he’d be the one paying the restitution with his own lambs. Bathsheba’s baby was the first of David’s sons to die after Nathan’s prediction.
And while David was hard-core in his judgments against people he wasn’t related to, he was soft on his sons…and what was dangerous about that was that David had taught them little regard for God’s word and self-control.
David denied himself nothing when it came to pleasing his flesh. If he was grieved and wanted revenge, he took. If he wanted horses, he took. If he lusted, he took. But David had no reason to take. God had given David blessings in abundance.
Through the prophet, Nathan, God told David, if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” 2nd Samuel 12:8b-12 esv
The prophet’s words are a little misleading here. We know the character of God is good and perfect, therefore we know that He does not raise up evil. I believe that God allowed the natural course of evil to reign in David’s home, and it was because of what David had taught his family. I believe that David could have stopped it from unraveling at any time – but he lacked the conviction and courage when it came to dealing with his kids.
David’s eldest son at this point is this character, Amnon. And what the manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal to us about Amnon is that David loved him because he was the firstborn. Being the eldest then, Amnon is the assumptive crown prince in David’s kingdom
Tamar is David’s only daughter, and she lives sequestered in the palace, kept completely safe away from all men, because her virginity is of utmost importance. She will be kept pure until the time of marriage because if she’s the only surviving child of David, her husband would then be in line for the throne.
The other thing, little known fact about these princesses, and what I learned in my studies on this, is that they were famed for their ability to make these delicate little pastries…and they loved to do it.
1Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. 2And 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. 2nd Samuel 13:1-2 esv
That phrase to do anything to her reveals exactly where this character is at. The original language there indicates that Amnon has tried to get her attention, or perhaps strike up a relationship with her, but to no avail. She’s uninterested in him.
Amnon wants Tamar bad. Verse 1 says that he loved her, but the Hebrew word that’s used is ʾāhab, and Vine’s Concise Dictionary of the Bible says that, in this instance, it’s not referring to love, but to sexual lust. And he’s allowed himself to be so consumed with having sex with her, and not being able to possess her, that he makes himself physically ill. This guy is nuts, and he’s dangerous. And because Amnon is the favored son, David’s probably been looking the other way for a long time. I’d bet, however, that everyone in the palace knows that Amnon has a problem – including Tamar and her mother.
Along with David’s nephew, Jonadab, Amnon lays a trap in order to have his way with Tamar. (Please read 2nd Samuel 13:3-19)
Sure enough, David falls for it and sends Tamar over to his house.
And I think besides arguing with Amnon before the act, Tamar must have put up quite a struggle during the act as well. The Scripture says: 15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. 2nd Samuel 13:15 esv
Tamar was NOT interested in this guy. He had to force himself in order to be with her – and he wasn’t happy about it. He has been scorned by the object of his obsession. He was humiliated, and he blamed her. When he was finished with her, he couldn’t wait to get her out of his sight. He threw her out of his house.
Absalom, Tamar’s full brother, second in line to the throne, hears about it (please read 2nd Samuel 13:20-22) and he starts to nurse a grudge – though he tells his sister, basically, don’t broadcast the thing around the kingdom. Let’s keep this within the family.
When David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 2nd Samuel 13:21 esv
David heard of all these things because the atrocity committed against his own daughter had been brought before him. Not only was he king, but he was the ruler and he judged the people. It was his responsibility to punish the aggressor.
David’s. Very. Angry. But that’s it?!
Everybody in the family knows what’s supposed to happen here. Amnon must pay a fine for what he’s done, and then he must marry Tamar (unless David refuses), and never divorce her all the days of his life. (Please see Deuteronomy 22:25-29*Special Note: Some scholars believe that Amnon should have been put to death, since Tamar was a princess being kept pure for marriage like a betrothal. I am also in that camp.)
But, if the simplest interpretation of the law would have been followed, it would mean that Tamar would be queen when Amnon takes the throne. He’s stuck with a woman who will probably never love him. How could she?
Instead of calling Amnon into the court and publicly disciplining him, David is very angry. That’s it.
Absalom takes Tamar into his home – and this is a very significant action. I think Absalom, Tamar and their mother Macaah have decided together that David is unworthy of the crown. This whole thing, on top of what happened with Bathsheba, makes David look like a very ineffective leader. And if we’re honest here, we can admit that we see into the family dynamics of what just happened. As I said before, Amnon was nuts and dangerous, and the entire family had to have known. Think about it. When we get together with our families don’t we have certain relatives from whom we guard our children? Don’t we just know? Yet, David sent his daughter, the virgin princess, into a doomed situation.
As a result Absalom shows outwardly to the entire kingdom that he doesn’t trust the king to protect the princess anymore. David’s unwillingness to judge Amnon makes Absalom doubt the king’s ability to discern wrong from right – and probably plants that doubt into the hearts of Jerusalem as well.
Please come back next week for A Royal Dysfunction Part 2 in our series, The Lion of Judah.
If you’re interested in my fiction, please visit www.TaMaraHanscomBooks.com for a free download of the first 4 chapters of The Pretender.
© 2018 Ta`Mara Hanscom