Thursday, August 10, 2023

Amnon assaults his sister Tamar: How to Heal from past Abuse

Family drama, I’ve seen it in my family and in many other families. I’ve attribrated disputes between sisters. I’ve worked with families during funerals where there are arguments and disagreements. I’ve seen some seriously terrible things happen in families. Family is tough. Very tough, and in this situation we’re looking at tonight. It’s not just family drama. I’ve seen family drama. This is simple evil that happens here. But I think we can learn from what happens, on how to live our lives more faithfully.

We’re going to be looking at 2nd Samuel 13 which deals with an ugly affair that takes place amongst the family and children of King David. 1st and 2nd Samuel simply document the history of Saul and David’s lives. It tells what really happened. It doesn’t hide any of the ugly things that happened. This is one of those ugly things that happened.

These events do depict sexual assault, so I want to be put that out there right now. So if you need to step out, please feel free to do so. Life is sometimes difficult. Life is sometimes traumatic. And we’ve all been through things that are painful and even evil.

It underlines for us just how sinful sin really is and how destructive sin can be.

If the history of your family was written down in books, and didn’t hide any of the ugly details, what would we read about? Would there be some pretty dark moments? I know that would be true for my family. What about yours? I’ve spoken to many people who tell me things that happen behind closed doors. And it just always reinforces to me the fact that we all need Jesus Christ to change us and make us different people.

It says this in verses 1-4: In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.

2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

Here we see something very ugly, Amnon is obsessed and infatuated with his own sister. That’s what we call incest. It’s an ugly thing. But, we know that God is greater than any human desire.

If Amnon had gone to God about this, and asked for God’s help, I’m sure God would’ve helped him. The feeling might not have gone away, but he would’ve had the strength to resist the urge to take his own sister.

We all have urges within us that we say no to. We feel an urge to do something. But our mind and heart tells us, no, that’s wrong, don’t do that. And we stop ourselves, and we don’t do it. Harboring the desire itself is not a sin, remember that. Acting on it, or fantasizing about it, that’s a sin. But a desire itself is not blameworthy.

Being tempted to sleep with someone is not a sin. Doing it, or fantasizing about it, then it becomes a sin. Then we need to ask God’s forgiveness. Being tempted to cheat on our spouse is not a sin. It’s not. But, fantasizing about it, or doing it, then it’s a sin. Having homosexual desires is not a sin in itself. Fantasizing about those desires, or acting on them, is a sin. But, actually doing it, or fantasizing about it, now it’s a sin, and you need to ask forgiveness. Being tempted to masturbate is not a sin. But fantasizing about it, or doing it, now it’s a sin. Do you understand?

For Amnon he doesn’t fight off the desire, and turn to God. Instead he talks with his advisor and begins to plot how to commit the sin.

It says this next: verses 5-11 “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

So Amnon sets the trap, and clears everyone out of the room. He pretends to be sick to get her alone and he goes after her.

This is now a conspiracy to a commit a crime as well. This should have worldly consequences, jail time, or worse in the ancient world. He’s committing conspiracy to commit a crime, in collusion with his advisor.

But you have to ask yourself the question, is this really love? He claimed to be in love with Tamar. But this isn’t love. Love doesn’t corner someone and try to force them to do something they don’t want to do. This is lust. This is evil desire. This is selfishness. He might’ve loved her at some point, but by his actions he shows complete disdain for her.

Next in verses 12-14:

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.”

Amnon commits a horrific crime. He disgraces his own sister and assaults her and rapes her. She even offers to marry him, anything to keep him from disgracing her in this way.

You have to understand that in the ancient world, virtually all young women were virgins until they were married. It was expected in ancient society that women would not lose their virginity to anyone but their own husband on their wedding night. So if a woman were taken and molested in this way, it would be a shame to her for the rest of her life. No man would want her in the future, that’s how serious it was.

So we see Amnon’s horrible crime is compounded by the ancient traditions of that time.

Let’s see what Amnon does next. In verses 15-16: Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

This is what happens when lust takes it’s natural course. You feel obsessed with the person. You chase after them. You sleep with them. Then the next morning you think to yourself, what have I done? You hate yourself for doing it. And you hate them too. Lust doesn’t lead to love. It leads to disappointment and anger. That’s why you see so many young men today who are angry and frustrated, or young women for that matter, they’ve chased after their own feelings and desires, and it’s left them more and more empty and more and more angry.

I would say that the one thing that brought me to Christ near the end of my broken days of sin, was being disappointed with every pleasure of the world. It was all empty, meaningless, and Amnon feels total anger and meaninglessness at this point. And I’m sure he feels the conviction of sin, that this is wrong and I’m guilty of wrongdoing in this situation.

Now Amnon immediately wants to get rid of her. She won’t be able to meet someone else. So she’s hoping he will take her as his wife. This was allowed back in ancient times. Otherwise she’ll be alone her whole life now. But he doesn’t he sends her away.

Then in verses 16-19: But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”

Tamar is devastated by what happens. Essentially her life is ruined. She can’t do anything to change it now. So she goes into grieving mode. She covers herself in ashes, and rips her clothes in sorrow, and departs.

Next we see Absalom coming onto the scene. The brother of Tamar and Amnon.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

So Absalom her brother cares for her. He brings her into his household. He gives her some good advice, “don’t take this thing to heart.”

Don’t let it define you. I’ve seen people, they let these abuses begin to define them and define their future. That doesn’t have to be your story. Don’t take it to heart. Don’t let it change your heart. Heal from it. But move forward in your life, after grieving it.

Lastly, we see in verses 21-22, “21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.”

David is furiously angry, but he doesn’t actually take any action against Amnon, which deeply upsets Absalom.

Absalom, he never even says anything to Amnon. Absalom tells Tamar not to take it to heart. But instead Absalom takes it to heart. And in response Absalom hates Amnon for what he did to his sister.

Sometimes it’s better to talk to someone directly, instead of harboring hatred in your heart. Go to them directly and express how you feel about it. Don’t keep silent and let hatred form. This isn’t always practical, but much of the time it is, to go to someone and talk to them about it. We’re good at avoiding conflict in our modern day and age. That is sometimes good. Sometimes it’s not good. Sometimes the conflict is inevitable and we simply have to face it. Other times we speak our peace and then we move forward. It’s never easy.

But in this case, obviously the best course would be for David to discipline Amnon in some way. But that doesn’t happen.

So in the end, despite what happens to Tamar, she can heal, though some of the consequences will be permanent. We can heal as well. And we can also learn to guard our hearts carefully, and avoid sexual sin. Because sexual sins are highly destructive. But if you've been a victim of sexual sin, you can find healing, hope, and a new season in the future. There is abundant life beyond past abuses.