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In this Chapter is related the beginning of David's domestic troubles. Amnon his son ravisheth his own sister Tamar; and Absalom, another of his sons, murders his brother Amnon. David's extreme sorrow in consequence.
2 Samuel 13:1
(1) ¶ And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.
It was among the punishments threatened David by the Prophet Nathan, for the adultery with Bath-sheba, and the murder of Uriah, that the Lord would raise up evil against him out of his own house; and the love, or rather lust of Amnon, after Tamar, opened a source for this purpose.
(2) And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her.
Observe, how fleshly lusts war both against soul and body: and of all the lusts of our poor fallen nature, this of uncleanness wars the most. How it levels us with the brute that perisheth. Lord! I would say, in the very thought of it, remember thy sweet promise; in which thou hast said, I will also save you from all your uncleannesses. Ezekiel 36:29 .
(3) But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.
What an awful thing it is to have, in what the world calls a friend, the worst of all enemies. Here is a subtle, ill-designing man, acting as an agent for Satan, and covering it under the mask of friendship. Reader! there is a friend I would earnestly recommend to you whose very wounds are faithful, who loveth at all times, and sticketh closer than a brother. Who can this be but Jesus? Concerning other friends I recommend nothing, unless it be caution in the choice of them. But if you make Jesus your friend, he will insure your choice in all others. See Proverbs 27:6; Proverbs 27:6 .
(4) And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister. (5) And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand. (6) So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand. (7) Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat. (8) So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes. (9) And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him. (10) And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. (11) And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister. (12) And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly. (13) And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee. (14) Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.
I do not think it necessary to make any long comment upon what is here related. It forms but the same melancholy subject of the breaking out of our corrupt and fallen nature, only diversified according to the various passions of different men. Reader! it hath never been yet fully pondered, nor perhaps ever will this side the grave, what a deadly poison was infused into human nature by the bite of the serpent at the fall. And therefore, from the same cause, never till then will be thoroughly known the infinite remedy procured us by the Person and Offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an awful example is here of a deep laid, diabolical scheme, by a brother against the chastity of his own sister!
(15) Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.
Can the mind conceive anything more detestable than this unnatural, cruel conduct? Reader! may we not pause over it and ask, is it possible for beings of such malignity to be found among mankind? Are there not here evidently traces of the infernal spirits? Are not those evil spirits which first tempt us to sin, the very first to accuse us before God? See Zechariah 3:1 ; Revelation 11:10 .
(16) And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her. (17) Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her. (18) And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her. (19) And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.
The renting of her garments was doubtless intending, not only as a token of grief, but of the injury she had sustained. It was an ancient custom in the loss of somewhat important, to rend the garment. Thus Samuel, on Saul's loss of the kingdom. 1 Samuel 15:27-28 .
(20) And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.
It should seem from the sequel of the history that, from the first moment Absalom heard of his sister's defilement, he determined to be revenged.
(21) ¶ But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.
Why did not David's wrath prompt him to punish the sin in his son Amnon? We hear nothing of this, neither of his bringing his affliction before the Lord. No doubt he connected with the subject of his son's incest the recollection of his own adultery. How beautiful the subject would have been, if David had been introduced as lamenting it before the Lord.
(22) And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. (23) And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons. (24) And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant. (25) And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him. (26) Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee? (27) But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. (28) Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant. (29) And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.
What a renewed example is here of the malignity of the human heart? Well might our dear Lord tell his disciples, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of Luke 9:55 .
(30) ¶ And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left. (31) Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.
Reader! remark the Lord's hand in this distress of David. Thus, like the former, was evil raised, as the Lord had said, out of his own house.
(32) And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. (33) Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.
Reader! remark the friendship of this Jonadab to Amnon. He knew, it seems, that Absalom had intended the death of Amnon for two full years together, and yet had never communicated the matter to his friend Amnon. Such is the world's friendship!
(34) But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him. (35) And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is. (36) And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore. (37) But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. (38) So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. (39) And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.
The sequel of this feast was mourning and sorrow. How innumerable have been the instances of such revellings in all ages! How quick sometimes the transition from the house of feasting to the house of woe. Talmai, king of Geshur, was a relation by the mother's side to Absalom. His mother Maacah was the daughter of Talmai. See 2 Samuel 3:3 . And by his abode with the king of Geshur for no less a space than three years, he wore out in his father's mind the grief for the loss of Amnon; and his father's natural affection for him revived.
THINK, Reader, in the perusal of the history of Amnon's gratified lust, how wretched the man that is given up for a prey to his own corrupt passions! Think also, in the sudden departure of his soul into eternity, in the moment of sin and drunkenness, what an awful termination to a life of iniquity; and how horrible his state, closing his eyes in sin, and opening them again in everlasting misery.
Behold, Reader! in the history here presented to thy view of David's family affliction, how sure the words of the Lord are in their accomplishment. The Lord had told him, that he would raise evil out of his own house, and here we see it. It hath been but a short time since David rioted in adultery and murder; and already we find he had gathered the bitter fruits of the sinful tree he planted. Incest and murder already stain his walls, and these, as the sequel of his history shows, were but the beginning of sorrows.
Precious Jesus! what a relief doth the remembrance of thee, and of thy sweet compassion to our nature, afford in the recollection of the sorrows of it! What but the tidings of great joy, which thy rich, and free, and full deliverance from all the sorrows of our nature brought from heaven, could tend to bind up the broken heart under its manifold afflictions! But when my soul turns to the contemplation of my Jesus, and the everlasting remedy he is in himself, and his complete salvation, here in him alone I find a relief for every sorrow, a balm for every care. Yes, thou sweet Redeemer! my eyes dry up their tears when I consider that every sin, sorrow, and affliction, hath lost its force, and almost its very name in thy gracious sanctification of it by thy blessed, glorious, gracious, and complete redemption. Oh! heavenly Lord! kindly go on to overrule the powers of Satan, and defeat his triumphs over our poor fallen nature, in leading us to sin, by counteracting his malice, and bringing our hearts nearer to thee. Correct, Lord, the angry passions of our nature; let our lusts of uncleanness be subdued; and when at any time the enemy cometh in like a flood, do thou, blessed God, lift up a standard against him. Let me behold with the eye of faith Jesus hastening to my relief, and in the innumerable sorrows that I have in my heart, let the precious promises of thy glorious gospel be the comforts to refresh my soul. Make them as good news from a far country; as rivers of water in a dry place; or as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 2 Samuel 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany