Sexual Abuse

II Samuel 13

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
December 2021

Many people complain that they come to church and they hear the same thing week after week.  It many cases, they are not wrong.  It is a result of not preaching the whole counsel of God.  Today, you are going to hear some things you have never heard before, at least in church.  You may have read this chapter, but you probably never heard it talked about in church.

For sure, you never heard in Sunday School as a child.  Pastors almost never preach on this in the pulpit.  It is one of the darkest stories in the Bible.  It is a rape story.  It is not a positive, uplifting story.  It is the story of a brutal rape.

It is a chapter of the Bible that should have an R rating.  It is a graphic chapter.  It is a violent chapter.  It is not a chapter that is easy to read.  It deals with rape and revenge.  There are two violent crimes in the chapter: rape and murder.

It begins with sexual abuse.  It begins with sexual assault. It begins with violence against women.  It begins with incest.  It begins with the rape of a sister. It ends with the murder of a brother.

It is one of the saddest stories in the Bible.  It is heartbreaking.  It is a story that does not have a happy ending, not at least for Tamar. That raises this question: Why is it even in the Bible?  That is a question worth asking.

This chapter is in the Bible for two reasons.  One, this chapter shows that the Bible is RELEVANT for our own day.  It has sex and violence. This chapter deals with real world topics.  It deals with some of the same things we see in the world today.

It deals with rape.  It deals with child rape.  It deals with sexual violence.  It deals with domestic violence.  It deals with family violence.  It deals with sexual abuse.  It deals with sexual shame.  It deals with sexual secrets.  It deals with sexual predators.  It deals with sex offenders.  It deals with sexual assault survivors.

Two, this chapter proves the Bible is TRUE.  God predicted this would happen.  David destroyed the happiness of Uriah’s house and now God is destroying the happiness of David’s house.  II Samuel 13 begins the fulfilment of what God said in II Samuel 12.

The prophet Nathan said that because of David’s sin, his biggest problem would not be trouble outside his kingdom but trouble WITHIN his kingdom.  The sword will NEVER depart from his own house.  He would have violence in his family.  He would have family problems.  Many of us have family problems.  King David had family problems, big family problems.

Five Key Characters

There are a lot of different ways we can look at this chapter.  Today, we want to look at five people and six scenes, “six ugly scenes.”[1]  There are six scenes in the chapter and five different people: Amnon, Jonadab, Tamar, David, Absalom.

The story mentions a woman named TAMAR, who was a daughter of King David.  It mentions KING DAVID, her father.  It mentions AMNON, Tamar’s half-brother.  They had the same father but a different mother.  It mentions ABSALOM.  Absalom was Tamar’s full brother.  It also mentions someone called JONADAB.  Jonadab was David’s nephew.  He was the son of David’s brother.

Scene One – The Spoiled Prince

Scene one focuses on AMNON, David’s firstborn son.  He was a spoiled rich kid.  He did not have White Privilege.  He had Jewish Privilege.  He was next in line to take over the throne.  He was the golden child.

David was preparing Amnon to become the next king. He was the entitled, spoiled, selfish, pampered prince.  He was used to getting whatever what he wanted.  He thought every day was his birthday. No one said no to him.

He was not just the Pampered Prince; he was the Perverted Prince.  He was Amnon the sexual predator.  He fell in love with his half-sister.  We are told that three times in the passage (II Samuel 13:1, 4, 15).  Tamar was the one thing that he wanted that he could not have.

She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her (II Samuel 13:2 NIV).  He could not have her, so he took her by force.  Amnon’s sin became an obsession.

This is an example of GENERATIONAL SIN.  Generation sin is behavior that is passed on from one generation to the next generation. The children repeat the sins of the parents.   The sins of the father or mother can be repeated in sons or daughters.  They follow in our footsteps.  That still happens today.  That is why parents need to watch how they live.  Our kids are watching.  They repeat our behavior.  They still do today.

How did Amnon repeat the sins of his father?  What were the similarities?

  • David was snared by outward beauty. Amnon was snared by outward beauty.
  • David has a problem with lust. Amnon had a problem with lust.
  • David violated the law of God (adultery, murder). Amnon violated the law of God (incest).
  • David committed a sexual sin. Amnon committed a sexual sin.  David had sex with another man’s wife.  Amnon had sex with his half-sister.
  • David took Bathsheba by force. Absalom took Tamar by force.  They both saw, wanted and took their victim.
  • David committed a capital crime. Amnon committed a capital crime. The punishment for both crimes was death.

Amnon pretended to be sick, lured his sister into his room and raped her.  What tactics did he use to lure Tamar?

He used TRUST.  He got Tamar to trust him.  She was his half-sister.

He used DECEPTION.  He pretended to be sick.

He used PEOPLE. King David used people to find out who Bathsheba was.  He used people to bring her to him.  He used Joab to send Uriah back home.  He used Uriah to send Joab his death warrant.  Amnon also used people.  He used King David.  He used David to send Tamar to her rapist.

He used ISOLATION.  He sent everyone else out of the room and got Tamar alone.

He used FORCE.  Amnon was older than Tamar and stronger than Tamar.

The Mistakes of Amnon

1) He deliberately violated the law of God

Amnon grew up in church.  His parents were believers.  He was not an atheist.  He was not a pagan.  He was Jew.  He knew what it was like to worship God.  He knew what the Bible said about incest, but he deliberately chose to disobey it.  People still do that today.  Some Christians still do that today.  This was not a crime of passion.  It was planned and premeditated.

2) He listened to the wrong kind of friends

Amnon hung out with people who told him what he wanted to hear, rather than what he needed to hear.  He hung out with Jonadab.  Jonadab asked him what was wrong, and he told him.

Most of us would be too embarrassed to tell someone our deepest and darkest secrets but not Amnon.  How different his life would have been if he surrounded himself with good influences, rather than bad ones? He might have been king.

3) He confused lust with love

Amnon thought he loved Tamar.  When Jonadab asked Amnon, “Why are you, the son of the king, so depressed morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?” Amnon replied, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (II Samuel 13:4 BSB)

This was not biblical love.  It was lust.  Biblical love is not selfish.  It does not think of itself.  It thinks of the needs of others.  It is not rude.  It does not hurt people.  It helps people.

4) He did not listen to reason

11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.” 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,” (II Samuel 13:11-14 NIV).

Everything that godly Tamar said was true.  This was a wicked thing.  It was not done in Israel.  He would be called one of the greatest folds in Israel and in biblical history, but he did not listen.  It is one of the characteristics of fools in the Bible.  They are not open to reason and logic.  It goes right over their heads.

5) He used women as objects

Immediately after the rape, we are told that “Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he had loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her.” II Samuel 13:15 BSB).  Once he got what he wanted from Tamar, he moved on to the next person.  He no longer needed her anymore.  Tamar was not treated as a person but as an object.

6) He did not repent

David committed terrible crimes, but he repented.  It took some time, but he repented, and his repentance was real.  It was genuine.  It was heartfelt.  Amnon never repented.  He never apologized for what he did.  He never said that he was sorry for what he died.  He never felt bad for what he did, and he never repented.  He died a rapist.  Amnon went into eternity in his sin.  He died a rapist, and a drunkard and stood before God in his sins.

Scene Two – The False friend

Jonadab was an enabler. There are many enablers today.  Many people within your own family enable other members of the family.  They encourage family members or loved ones to continue to engage in destructive or sinful behavior, rather than trying to get them help.  He does not commit the crime, but he helps plan it.

He was a false friend.  Amnon might never have committed this crime if he did not get the encouragement from Jonadab to do it.  He made the mistake of giving bad advice.  Some counselors that we see can give terrible advice.  They can give unbiblical advice.

Amnon liked the advice he gave.  It gave him what he wanted, but it also got him killed.  Be careful who you listen to.  Be careful who your friends are.  Be careful what counsel you listen to.  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the UNGODLY (Psalm 1:1 KJV)

Friends either hurt your or help you.  Amnon was killed because he took the wrong advice.  He listened to his slimy, conniving cousin.  Sometimes, people in your own family can give you very bad advice.

Jonadab is actually a picture of Satan.  He is a type of Satan.  He slithers onto the scene and suggests what is forbidden.  He is called “crafty” (ESV) or “shrewd” (NIV).  He was slick.  He would have made a good politician today.  It is similar to the word used of Satan in Genesis 3:1, although that is a different Hebrew word.  The advice he gives Amnon comes right from the pit of hell.  It was demonic.

Scene Three – The Loyal Daughter

Tamar is one of King David’s daughters.  What do we know about her?  She was a beautiful, young woman.  She was probably in her teens.  She is the polar opposite of Amnon.  She was godly.  She was righteous.  He was selfish.  She was selfless.  She was a woman of honor.  She was a woman of character.

She is modest.  She was not dressed inappropriately.  She was obedient to her father.  She was conscientious and hardworking.  Apparently, she was also a good cook.  She thought of the needs of others, rather than her own needs.  She is caring for the sick and trying to help her brother out when he needs it.

She is not appreciated.  She is not valued.  When she takes the food to him, he doesn’t even eat it.  She gets punished for doing good.  Tamar does a good deed for Amnon and gets raped as a consequence and she was absolutely powerless to stop it.

Tamar reminds us of the sad reality of evil in the world.  Here’s what you don’t hear in church.  Evil is real.  All you have to do is to watch the news for one day.  Evil is real.  Evil can happen to believers.  God does not stop all of the evil in the world.  He did not stop what happened to Tamar and he did not stop what happened to Uriah.  Why?  God created people with a free will.  We are created with the freedom to do incredible good or incredible evil.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), “Every 68 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted…One of every six American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime”[2]

It is a scary statistic.  Sixteen percent of women in America are sexually assaulted.  Evil affects believers.  Sometimes, we experience it firsthand.  Evil can happen to anyone.  Even members of the royal family were not exempt from evil.  Here it happened to the king’s own daughter. Sexual abuse can even happen in the church.

This is one of the four cases of rape in the Bible. Three involved women and one involved a man.  Two involved the rape of a family member.

The four cases of rape in the Bible are the rape of Lot by his daughters (Genesis 19), the rape of Dinah by Shechem (Genesis 34), the rape of Tamar by her half-brother (II Samuel 13) and the rape of an unnamed concubine by the Benjamites (Judges 19).

This rape of Tamar is unique.  It is the only case in Scripture in which we hear the side of the innocent victim in this situation.

Scene Four – The Passive Father

In Scene four, we see a passive father.  He was what we would call today a permissive parent.  He is an indulgent parent.  His son just raped his daughter.  He gets angry but does absolutely nothing.  He was completely passive in the face of evil but there is more.

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. 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious (II Samuel 13:20-21 NIV)

When King David heard what happened, he was not only angry, he was VERY angry, but he did not do anything.  Why?

We get a hint in the LXX.  II Samuel 13:20 reads in the LXX, “And king David heard of all these things, and was very angry; but he did not grieve the spirit of his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his first-born.” [3]

If that is the case, David was not only a permissive parent; he played favorites.  Amnon was his favorite.  David’s two parenting flaws with Amnon were indulgence and favoritism.  Amnon was his favorite son and he did not discipline him.  We still have the same problem today with some parents.

David does not rebuke Amnon.  The only one in this chapter who confronted Amnon for his sin was Tamar.  David does not do it.  He does not discipline his sin or punish him in any way.

When he died, he mourned for him.  He tore his clothes, rolled on the ground and wept bitterly (II Samuel 13:31, 36).  What we don’t see in this chapter is David mourning for Tamar.  We don’t see him weeping for his daughter.  We don’t see him tearing his clothes because of her.  We do not see him comforting his daughter either or trying to protect her.  He is absolutely silent.

What is the lesson?  David was a great king but a terrible parent.  He was great at ruling over an entire kingdom but terrible at ruling over his own household.  This was a character flaw in David.  We see it in other places (cf. I Kings 1:5-6)

The same could be true of us.  We can be great businessmen and terrible parents.  We can be great pastors and terrible parents.  That is why the NT makes this a qualification for elders.  He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect (I Timothy 3:4 NIV).

Scene Five – The Supportive Brother

One brother wants to hurt Tamar.  One brother wants to help her. He comforted his grieving sister.  He takes her into his home and he avenges her rape.  Absalom is the only one of the men who looks good in this chapter.

If you like all of those Clint Eastwood movies, you will see him as the hero. You see him as the good guy in the story.  He is the only man who stood up to evil.  He stood up to the rapist.  He defended his sister. He was the vigilante.

He does not sound like he is too supportive at first  He says, “Be quiet FOR NOW, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” (II Samuel 13:20 NIV) but what he is really saying, if you read between the lines, is, “I will take care of it.  Don’t worry about it.  Just wait.”  Don’t judge him by his words but by his actions.

He throws a party, invites his dad.  He does not come and so he asks Amnon his representative to come.  Amnon comes.  He gets drunk and then Absalom’s servants kill him.  Absalom does not kill him himself, just as David did not kill Uriah himself.  He got other people to do it.  David got Uriah drunk and now Absalom gets Amnon drunk.

Most preachers today see Absalom in a negative light.  We need to give him some credit here.  Two years went by and David did nothing.  David was not just a father; he was the king.  He could have done something.  He did not do anything, so Absalom does.

Many today see him as a murderer.  They see him as someone who takes matters into his own hands.  That is not how he would see himself.  He would see himself as one who was executing justice.  Amnon deserved to die because of what he did.  Since David would not do it.  He does it.

He would see it, not an execution, not a murder.  He was not committing cold-blooded murder.  He was avenging his sister’s rape.  The avenger of blood had the right to execute justice against someone who committed a capital offense.

On the other hand, Absalom was not a saint.  By doing this, it actually put him one step closer to the throne.  He was a bit of an opportunist.  By helping out Tamar, he was helping himself out, but Absalom was far from perfect.

Later in II Samuel, Absalom commits sexual sin himself.  He rapes ten concubines (II Samuel 16:22; 20:3).  That would make a fifth rape in the Bible.  in fact, if you count Bathsheba, that would make seven rapes in Scripture and three cases in II Samuel.

Scene Six – The Desolate Woman

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.

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. (II Samuel 13:19-20 NIV)

Here was see the effect of sexual abuse on people.  Tamar is not the same person.  She is crying out loud.  She is mourning.  She put ashes on her head, and she tore her clothes.  How did the men in her life respond to her?  “Amnon abuses her, Absalom silences her, and David ignores her.”[4]

Tamar askes the question, “Where could I get rid of my disgrace? (II Samuel 13:13 NIV). She asks, How can I get rid of my shame?   Sexual assault still takes places today.  It still causes pain.  It still leads to shame but there are some differences today.

We live in a completely different world.  Three thousand years ago, a woman’s life was over if this happened.  Tamar lived in a society in a completely patriarchal society. She lived in a male-dominated society.  Women had little rights.  She lived in a society in which silence was encouraged.  She lived in a day in which it was much harder to get justice.

We live in a society in which women have more rights.  We live in a society in which silence is discouraged.  People who experience sexual abuse are encouraged to speak out and not keep secrets.  While justice today often does not take place, we have the advantage today of DNA evidence which did not exist three thousand years ago.

Evil seemed to win in Tamar’s life but it does not have to win.  The apostle Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21 NIV).

That verse tells us two things.  It is possible to be overcome by evil.  The evil in the world is real and it is horrible.  Many are overcome by evil.  They are devastated by it, but Paul says that it is also possible to overcome evil.  Evil does not have to define who you are.  You do not have to be defined by what happens to you. You can choose to let the past go.  You can choose to forgive.  The Bible teaches that God can bring good out of unimaginable evil.  There is healing for sexual abuse.

[1] One of the best sermons on this is by Colin Smith (https://unlockingthebible.org/sermon/abuse/).  It is excellent. I was familiar with the five characters in the passage but got the concept of the six scenes from him, although I different titles.

[2] https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.

[3] https://www.biblestudytools.com/lxx/kings-ii/13.html

[4] https://unlockingthebible.org/sermon/abuse/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *