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Bible Commentaries
2 Samuel 13

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-39


David did not have to wait long to see the sad governmental results of his sin begin to be manifest in his own family His son Ammon was so attracted by the beauty of his half sister Tamar that he became sick in entertaining thoughts of her, though he knew well that his lust was improper.

When a friend of his, Jonadab, enquired about the cause of his indisposition, he confided in him about his lustful thoughts. Jonadab had no sense of moral decency, and was so crafty as to suggest a deceitful means of Ammon's getting his sister alone into his bedroom and forcing her. Ammon foolishly followed his advice, not thinking of the probable consequences. The deceit he used reminds us of the deceit of David in trying to cover his own sin. in spite of the earnest pleading of Tamar not to force her, her warning him that this would bring disgrace upon his own head as well as covering with shame the one he thought he loved, he went through with his evil intentions. This too reminds us of David's virtually forcing Bathsheba, for he brought her to his own house and since he was king she no doubt thought she could not withstand him.

Ammon having been guilty of the cruel rape of Tamar, his professed love for her was proven utterly false, for he turned against her with vicious hatred. This is what will often occur when one is led by infatuation. He knew he had done evil, and the one he had wronged is the one who becomes the object of his worst hatred. From then on, every time he saw her, his conscience would burn. For this reason he wanted her out of his sight, just as some men are hateful enough to murder a woman after they have raped her.

Tamar realized and told Ammon that his hateful action in wanting to get rid of her was worse than his first evil (v.16). But he called his servant and told him to "put this woman out," and to bolt the door behind her. Then he was left to himself to face the bitter trauma of an accusing conscience.

But the anguish and shame of what Tamar had borne gave her grief and sorrow. She had to tear her beautiful robe with which the king's virgin daughters were clothed, put ashes on her head in token of humiliation and mourning, and went away crying bitterly. How tragically sad is the fact of the great number of young women who have been similarly humiliated by the cruelty of wicked men!

Absalom, her full brother, discerned immediately what had happened (v.20). He did not apparently show any anger. His character was more cold and calculating. He tried to quiet Tamar by telling her to forget it. But he himself did not intend to forget it, but to recompense Ammon in his own way.

David heard of the incident and was very angry (v.21). Ought it not rather to have deeply humbled him before God in brokenness of heart and feeling the guilt as though it had been his own? Surely he had not so quickly forgotten his own dreadful sin. He did nothing. In fact, Absalom also did nothing at the time, but nursed a bitter hatred toward Ammon (v.22) that would wait opportunity to do the worst.

Two full years did not serve to change Absalom's hatred toward Ammon. At this time he plotted to get Ammon on to his own property, and he invited David and all his brothers at a time when he was having his sheep sheared and would be realizing large profits. David considered this too much for Absalom to handle and declined the invitation. But at Absalom's insistence that Ammon and his other brothers be permitted to go, David consented (v.27). No doubt both David and Ammon were off guard by now, for they would expect nothing after two years had elapsed. But they little knew Absalom's character.

Sheep shearing was a time of celebration, and Ammon joined in the wine drinking without suspicion. Absalom did not himself commit the murder, but had his servants do this at the opportune time (vs.28-29), when the wine had dulled Ammon's senses. Notice two things here that remind us of David's sin. He had used wine to try to influence Uriah (ch.11:13), and he had killed Uriah by the hands of other men (ch.12:9). David's house was indeed suffering because of David's sin, and this was by no means the end.

The murder of Ammon was a shock to the other sons of David, who immediately fled from the scene of the crime (v.29), perhaps to remove themselves from any stigma of being linked with the murder, for their own lives were not threatened. But the report quickly reached David that Absalom had killed all the king's sons, not one being left. Such exaggerations are common when evil is reported. This news prostrated David with utter grief, as he tore his garments in token of humiliation and self-judgment before God (v.31). His servants followed him in tearing their garments, but remained standing.

Then Jonadab, David's nephew, the same young man who had given Ammon the deadly advice (v.35), told David that not all the king's sons were dead, but only Ammon, and that this murder had been determined by Absalom from the time that Ammon had forced his sister Tamar. Jonadab evidently showed no regret that he had influenced Ammon, and showed little sorrow at losing one who was his friend. Since he apparently knew of Absalom's intention, why did he not warn his friend Ammon?

Meanwhile, either Absalom's conscience or his fear of consequences drove him away from his own home. His father had not punished Ammon's wickedness: now Absalom had sinned in taking the law into his own hands, with the result that David did nothing about this either. His other sons return, all weeping, and David weeps with them. Absalom becomes a voluntary exile, going to Geshur, meaning "proud beholder" (v.37). This intimates the pride of observing others and condemning them, while seeing no wrong in self. In contrast to David, there is no indication that Absalom ever repented of his crime. He remained at Geshur for three years, during which time David longed after his son.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 13". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/2-samuel-13.html. 1897-1910.
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