2 Samuel 13:19–22, 28a, 37–39; 14:23–24; 15:1–6comment (0)
November 20, 2008
By Doug Wilson
Related Scripture: 2 Samuel 13:19–22, 28a, 37–39; 14:23–24; 15:1–6
Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHEN FAMILY BONDS SHATTER
2 Samuel 13:19–22, 28a, 37–39; 14:23–24; 15:1–6
Imagine you have a high position in the church, the company or the community and your grown son publicly rejects everything you have ever taught him. You are facing social disgrace because he chooses to follow “his own path” or to find himself. What should you do? King David quickly finds the seeds of his recent sins with Bathsheba are already beginning to bear fruit. He had already lost the son she bore. Now his lack of sexual restraint had opened the door for his older sons to take greater license. Amnon attacked his half sister Tamar. Absalom later rebelled against the king by seeking the kingdom and humiliating David’s concubines in public. As we look at this family tearing apart at the seams, we can draw out some valuable principles from the Word of God.
Confront Sin (13:19–22)
Amnon was infatuated with Tamar. His friend Jonadab devised a scheme by which Amnon could draw her in for seduction. Tamar went to take care of her “ailing” half brother, who seized her and forced her into his bed. After assaulting her, his hatred for her grew more intense than his previous lust for her. She faced the shame of a virgin princess who had lost her innocence to an incestuous half brother. When Tamar’s brother Absalom noticed her disheveled appearance, he deduced what had occurred. He told Tamar to remain quiet about the incident, he protected her in his own home and he held his tongue regarding Amnon. At the time, Absalom did not confront his half brother about Tamar, but he secretly waited to avenge her.
Resist Vengeance (13:28a, 37–39)
The saying goes like this: “Vengeance is a meal best served cold.” Absalom said nothing good or bad to Amnon for two years, but during that time, he plotted to carry out his revenge against the rapist. He persuaded David to allow Amnon to join the king’s other sons for a feast. When Amnon had drunk enough, he was incapable of defending himself. At that point, he was struck down and killed. David’s other sons fled the scene, and a final report came to David that Absalom had carried out the plot to kill Amnon. Now Absalom was in hiding. As Christians, we know the Scripture teaches: “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” Yet we have the same propensity as unbelievers to desire revenge. We are cut off in traffic, and we want to respond in kind. Others treat us unfairly and we want to tell someone off. We know we ought to respond like David, longing for fellowship with his prodigal son, but the world around us conditions us for a way to get some payback.
Seek Reconciliation (14:23–24)
In a recent revival service at First Baptist Church, North Mobile, Tom Elliff of the International Mission Board said forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness is a choice by a believer to release someone else from the walls of bitterness built around him or her. Reconciliation, on the other hand, is two parties choosing to mend their fellowship with each another. David chose to forgive Absalom years prior to their short-lived reconciliation.
Avoid Selfishness (15:1–6)
Absalom was a conniving man, caught up in his own self-importance. After meeting with his father, he maneuvered himself to win the hearts of the people of Israel by making promises he would not keep. Before long, his world was going to come crashing down around him, but he basked in the spotlight while he had it. He was caught up in his own hype and threw away his father’s authority.
We must be careful from whom we receive counsel. The psalmist wrote that a man is blessed not when he walks in the counsel of the ungodly, unrepentant sinners and mockers but when he meditates on the law of God (Ps. 1:1–2).
Israel’s downfall, both civilly and morally, was a direct result of rejecting God’s word and reflecting an ever-changing society. They wanted to call themselves God’s people without listening to God. As Christians, will we avoid selfishness and obey God or follow the path of Absalom and ancient Israel?