Introduction: Through the prophet Nathan, God spared David’s life after he repented for his sins of adultery, deceit, and murder (2 Sam. 12:13). Yet, as a result of his sins, he and Bathsheba’s baby died (2 Sam. 12:14-19). Here, David’s children would also suffer from his sins through acts of lust, incest, rape, hatred, and murder. From David’s sins, God reveals seven types of consequences for a family that may follow from a parent’s sins. These include: (1) evil desires, (2) evil influences, (3) evil acts, (4) selfishness, (5) hatred, (6) rebellion, and (7) suffering.
First, David’s son Amnon lusted after his half-sister Tamar. David also suffered from lust and failed to control his sins. From Amnon’s unholy desires, God reveals that a parent’s sins can sow evil desires in their children. Second, Amnon turned to an evil cousin for counsel when he could not act upon his evil lusts for his sister. David was too morally compromised to be a godly influence on his son. From Amnon’s actions, God reveals that a parent’s sins can turn children to evil influences. Third, through acts of deceit, Amnon tricked David into sending Tamar to his house where he raped her. David also used deceit to try to trick Uriah to conceal his adultery. Through Amnon’s acts, God reveals that a parent’s sins can sow the seeds of evil acts in their children. Fourth, after Amnon raped his sister, he cast her out of his house and felt nothing but contempt for her. David also selfishly seized women to satisfy his lusts. From Amnon’s sins, God reveals that a parent’s sins can sow the seeds of selfishness in their children. Fifth, after David failed to discipline Amnon, Tamar’s brother Absalom acted out of anger to kill Amnon. David also used murder as a tool for his own gain. From Absalom’s sins, God reveals that a parent’s sins can sow the seeds of hatred in their children. Sixth, Absalom then fled to a foreign land where he plotted a future rebellion against David. David also rebelled against God. From Absalom’s actions, God reveals that a parent’s sins can sow the seeds of rebellion in their children. Finally, David and his family suffered as a result of the sins that he inflicted upon them. From this, God reveals that a parent’s sins can bring suffering to an entire family.
Amnon lusts after his half-sister Tamar. After ignoring God’s express warning against having multiple wives (Dt. 17:17), David paid the price when his eldest son lusted after a half-sister through a different mother: “1 Now it was after this that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar, and Amnon the son of David loved her. 2 Amnon was so frustrated because of his sister Tamar that he made himself ill, for she was a virgin, and it seemed hard to Amnon to do anything to her.” (2 Sam. 13:1-2). David had more than seven wives and ten concubines. His first wife was Michal. After Saul gave her to David, he took her away and gave her to another man. David later remarried her again as his seventh wife. But she never bore any children (2 Sam. 6:23). Ahinoam was David’s second wife. Amnon was their son and the first-born male heir and crown prince to the throne (2 Sam. 3:2). David’s third wife was Macccah (2 Sam. 3:3). Tamar and Absalom were Macccah’s children. They were also Amnon’s half-sister and half-brother. In many middle eastern and European cultures, it was common for royal children to marry each other. Yet, any type of marriage between children was strictly prohibited under God’s law (Lev. 18:6, 9, 11). Tamar would have also lived separately from Amnon with guards in the royal palace. This would have made her feel less like a sibling to Amnon. Tamar was also a beautiful virgin. Her name means “date palm”. It represented her fruitfulness. Acting under the belief system of the world at that time and his father’s example, Amnon lusted after her. Amnon’s name meant faithful. God would test his heart to see if he was faithful to Him or the cultures of the world.
David’s failure to raise Amnon in the teachings of God’s laws. David failed to raise Amnon to follow God’s laws. God commands all parents: “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 6:7). “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Dt. 11:19; 31:12-13). “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6; Ps. 78:4-6). You may say that you don’t have time to learn His law yourself or teach it to your children. But this is one of the reasons why God gave you the Sabbath. Do you teach your children God’s law?
David’s failure to teach Amnon from his failure to flee sexual temptations. David had just learned a terrible lesson after his lust led to the sins of adultery, deceit, murder, and lies. David may have learned his lessons from his sins. But he failed to teach his son from his mistakes. “L.u.s.t.” can be defined as “living under Satanic temptation.” It does not fall under any of God’s definitions of true love (1 Cor. 13). God will not place you in a place beyond your ability to resist the temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). Yet, just as Joseph fled when Potiphar’s wife tempted him (Gen. 39:12), you are also commanded to “flee” sexual temptation. (2 Tim. 2:22). After the sin of Adam and Eve, our sexual desires became distorted (Gen. 3:15-16; Rom. 8:20). God knows that you are most likely destined for bondage if you try to reason with temptation. Before God gave the Ten Commandments, He declared: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Ex. 20:2). His rules are meant to protect you from bondage. Through Jesus’ death, your body has been bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:19-20). You are now His servant (Lev. 25:55). If you were once a slave to sin, you are now a slave to righteousness (Ro. 6:17-18). Are you “fleeing” sexual temptation? (2 Tim. 2:22). Or, like Amnon, do your Satan-inspired lusts control your decisions?
Amnon listened to the evil advice of his cousin Jonadab. Instead of confessing his sin to a priest and repenting, Amnon sought the counsel of a wicked cousin named Jonadab, who gave him the plan to rape his sister Tamar: “3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He said to him, ‘O son of the king, why are you so depressed morning after morning? Will you not tell me?’ Then Amnon said to him, ‘I am in love with Tamar, the sister of my brother Absalom.’ 5 Jonadab then said to him, ‘Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill; when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me some food to eat, and let her prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat from her hand.’’ 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.’ 7 Then David sent to the house for Tamar, saying, ‘Go now to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.’” (2 Sam. 13:3-7). Jonadab was the son of David’s brother and therefore Amnon’s cousin (2 Sam. 13:32). He was cunning in his attempts to gain influence within the royal court. Yet, his self-ambition blinded him to what was right. Amnon professed to Jonadab his “love” for his sister Tamar. In an effort to rationalize his sins, Amnon also referred to Tamar as Absalom’s sister and not his own (2 Sam. 13:4). If Jonadab were a true friend to Amnon, he would have counseled him to follow God’s law and not to pursue what was actually lust, not love. Instead, he gave Amnon the plan that allowed Amnon to rape her. Knowing that David was morally compromised by his own sins, Amnon and Jonadab used him to have Tamar separated from her normal royal protections.
Protect your children from the company of ungodly people. Because David was distracted by his sins, he did not closely monitor the people who influenced his children. As the future king of Israel, Amnon was called upon to stay holy and separated from unholy influences (Lev. 11:44; 19:2). Believers are also called upon to be holy and separated from the world (1 Pet. 1:16). “If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, . . . you shall not yield to him or listen to him; . . . (Dt. 13:6, 8(a)). “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” (Prov. 1:10). “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Cor. 15:33). “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Have you stayed separated from unholy people? If so, are you also monitoring the people who are influencing your children?
Set boundaries for your children. David’s royal protections for Tamar existed to protect her. Tamar was raped only because he removed her from her protections. If you are a parent, you are called upon to monitor and protect your children from predators.
Amnon’s deceit placed him under Satan’s influence. Amnon modeled the deceit that he saw in his father as he tried to cover up his sins (2 Sam. 11:6-13). By employing deceit, Amnon also placed himself under Satan’s influence (Jo. 8:44). If you are practicing deceit, your children may copy you and also place themselves under Satan’s influence.
Your salvation does not free you from the consequences of deceit. Without the blood of Christ, deceit is grounds alone to bar a person from heaven: “He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.” (Rev. 21:8; Ps. 101:7; Prov. 19:9). A person who practices deceit also does “not serve our Lord Christ . . .” (Ro. 16:18). “Deceit” is further one of the things that Jesus warns will defile a person (Mk. 7:20-23). Although deceit will not cause you as a saved believer to lose your eternal salvation, there are still consequences when you practice deceit. Solomon warns: “Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.” (Prov. 20:17). Jeremiah also warns that “the heart is deceitful above all things, . . .” (Jer. 17:9). Thus, you cannot walk with God based solely upon your heart’s desires. Do you invite God through prayer to search your heart to reveal any hidden sins and deceit?
A parent’s hypocrisy may cause a child to turn to others for guidance. David also was not in a position to discipline or admonish Amnon because he engaged in the same sins. He would have been a hypocrite for judging Amnon for his own misconduct. (Ro. 2:1-3; Matt. 4:24; 7:1-5). Because Amnon would have charged David with hypocrisy if David had given him moral advice, Amnon turned to others for guidance.
Without Spirit-led leadership, children will do what feels right to them. God warns that without leaders who will teach and administer God’s law, people will embrace their own morality: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25; 17:6). Amnon did not think highly of David’s morality. Thus, he did what seemed right in his own eyes, and he embraced evil. If you fail to teach your children God’s laws, they may also do what feels right in their own eyes.
Amnon rapes his sister Tamar. After Amnon succeeded in having Tamar come to his house alone, he overpowered her and raped her: “8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, and he was lying down. And she took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9 She took the pan and dished them out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, ‘Have everyone go out from me.’ So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.’ So Tamar took the cakes which she had made and brought them into the bedroom to her brother Amnon. 11 When she brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, ‘Come, lie with me, my sister.’ 12 But she answered him, ‘No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this disgraceful thing! 13 As for me, where could I get rid of my reproach? And as for you, you will be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.’ 14 However, he would not listen to her; since he was stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” (2 Sam. 13:8-14). Tamar attempted to reason with Amnon by warning him that his actions would bring shame to both of them. Yet, Amnon would not listen to reason because his lusts had blinded him. When her attempts to reason failed, she tried to buy time by asking Amnon to present his demands to marry her to King David. She knew that their father would reject this proposal. Amnon likely ignored this request because he also knew David would say no.
Jan Havicksz Steen (1626-1679) “Ammon and Tamar” (oil painting 1665)1
Eustache Le Sueur (1616-1655) “The Rape of Tamar” (oil painting 1640)2
Amnon’s disregard for God’s laws regarding sexual purity. Although royal marriages amongst family members were common in the ancient world, God prohibited them in every way possible. On relevance to this account, He prohibited sexual unions between any kind of blood relative: “6 None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord.” (Lev. 18:6). He also expressly prohibited sexual unions between children and their siblings: “9 The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover.” (Lev. 18:9; 20:17). He also prohibited sexual unions between half-siblings: “11 The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness.” (Lev. 18:11; 20:17). He protected the Jews from genetic diseases they could not understand. The lesson is to follow His law even when the reasons are unclear. Amnon violated these laws with his rape and act of incest (Dt. 22:25-29).
God’s prohibition against rape and sex before marriage. God required that believers keep themselves pure by abstaining from sexual acts of rape and any type of sex outside of marriage. He proscribed severe punishments for any person who raped another person: “13 If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ 15 then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.” (Dt. 22:13-19). For an unsaved person, the penalty for fornication (even if consensual) is also death in heaven. “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9). While others may not know about your past, there are no secrets from God in heaven (Heb. 4:13). Are you also teaching your kids the importance of sexual purity?
Amnon modeled after the behavior of his father in raping Tamar. As the crown prince of Israel, there was no more important role model for Amnon than David. Before arriving in Hebron, David had two wives (1 Sam. 25:43). During his seven-year reign in Hebron, he took four additional wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5). David then forced Abner to kidnap his former wife Michal and make her his seventh wife (2 Sam. 3:12-16). Because he took Michal against her will, this was also an act of rape. After becoming king, he took more wives and concubines (2 Sam. 5:13-14). He then again showed his disregard for the laws of sexual purity when he committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:2-4). Thus, David had little moral authority to rebuke Amnon for his similar sins.
Amnon’s action were part of the curse from David’s actions. Amnon’s actions are proof that the sins of a parent can impact children. God warns: “[F]or I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Ex. 20:5). Yet, this does not mean that children will suffer eternal judgment because of the sins of their parents (Ezek. 18:20). We can find many modern day examples of this. For example, a parent who has an idol like alcohol or drugs can inflict punishment through his or her selfish conduct on both his or her children and even the grandchildren. Or, a parent who breaks apart a marriage can inflict emotional damage on their children that may impact the grandchildren as well. Are you engaging in any conduct that may cause lasting damage to your family members?
Amnon’s actions were also the result of unchecked sin. Amnon’s sin of lust was like a cancer in his body. David failed to treat his cancer. The end result was adultery, murder, and deceit. For Amnon, his untreated cancer grew into rape. Any person who fails to deal with their sins will see them grow into even worse sins: “One who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. . . .” (Gal. 6:8.) Are there any unchecked sins in your life? If so, don’t be surprised when they turn into worse sins.
Amnon despises his victim Tamar and casts her out after raping her. After Amnon raped Tamar, Amnon’s eyes were opened to the evil nature of his acts. He then despised Tamar for the shame that he had brought upon himself and cast her out of his house: “15 Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Get up, go away!’ 16 But she said to him, ‘No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!’ Yet he would not listen to her. 17 Then he called his young man who attended him and said, ‘Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her.’ 18 Now she had on a long-sleeved garment; for in this manner the virgin daughters of the king dressed themselves in robes. Then his attendant took her out and locked the door behind her.” (2 Sam. 13:15-18). Amnon showed that there was really no love in his heart for Tamar as he had previously professed to Jonadab (2 Sam. 13:4). He showed that his actions were really motivated by lust. He also showed that the line between lust and hatred is very small. Having prevailed in his sexual conquest, he cast her out because she had nothing left to offer him. Her presence did nothing more than remind him of the sins that he had just committed.
Amnon compounded Tamar’s sin by casting her out. Amnon gave Tamar multiple reasons to feel sorrow. First, he humiliated her by tricking her into coming to his house to help him and then raping her. Second, he brought shame upon her by causing them both to violated God’s laws against incest. Third, by taking her virginity, he made it difficult under the customs of that culture for any man to want to marry her. Any hopes that Tamar had of marrying the man of her dreams and having children were now ruined. Amnon also owed her for the harm that he created (Ex. 22:16-17; Dt. 22:28-29).
Amnon became a spoiled prince because David did not discipline him. By withholding discipline from Amnon, David created a spoiled child who only thought for himself (Prov. 13:14). “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.” (Ecc. 8:11). In the end times, God warns that people will become selfish like Amnon in dealing with others: “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,” (2 Tim. 3:2). “For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:21; 1 Cor. 10:24). Are you teaching your children by your example to be selfless or selfish in dealing with others?
After David fails to discipline Amnon, Absalom plots his revenge against Amnon. David was too compromised by his own sins to discipline Amnon. This brought outrage to Absalom. He then plotted to murder Amnon to avenge Tamar: “19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore her long-sleeved garment which was on her; and she put her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went. 20 Then Absalom her brother said to her, ‘Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.’ So Tamar remained and was desolate in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 Now when King David heard of all these matters, he was very angry. 22 But Absalom did not speak to Amnon either good or bad; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar. 23 Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Absalom came to the king and said, ‘Behold now, your servant has sheepshearers; please let the king and his servants go with your servant.’ 25 But the king said to Absalom, ‘No, my son, we should not all go, for we will be burdensome to you.’ Although he urged him, he would not go, but blessed him. 26 Then Absalom said, ‘If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.’ And the king said to him, ‘Why should he go with you?’ 27 But when Absalom urged him, he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.” (2 Sam. 13:19-27). As king and father, it was David’s role to administer justice for Amnon’s crimes. Yet, because he was compromised by his own sins he could not fulfill his roles as either king or father to discipline Amnon. As one commentator notes: “David was right to be angry, but he didn’t do anything to either protect Tamar or to correct Amnon. It may be that David was conscious of his own guilt in a similar matter and therefore felt a lack of moral authority to discipline his own son.” (David Guzik on 2 Sam. 13).3 Tamar also knew that David would do nothing. Thus, she never turned to him. David’s favoritism towards Amnon caused both Tamar and Absalom to feel like David’s step-children. Thus, Absalom acted as Tamar’s avenger.
A parent must discipline a wayward child in love, but never out of anger. God uses His leaders as His “avengers” to administer His justice (Rom. 13:4). This includes parents. God also uses the parental relationship to show that He must discipline us out of love. “For whom the LORD loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” (Prov. 3:12; Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19). “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb. 12:7). “Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.” (Dt. 8:5). If a parent does not discipline a child, the child will become spoiled: “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” (Prov. 3:24). Yet, we must never disciple out of anger. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4). When (not if) you discipline your child, make sure that you are doing so out of love and not out of anger.
Amnon’s punishment for incest was being “cut off” and cursed. If David had administered God’s law, he would have cut Amnon off from his people: “If there is a man who takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the sons of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he bears his guilt.” (Lev. 20:17). He also would have been cursed: ‘“Cursed is he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.”’ (Dt. 27:22). If David wanted to show mercy, Amnon might have been forced into exile.
God’s punishment for rape (100 % of 4.2 years in wages or six years of servitude). Separate and apart for his punishment for incest, David also needed to punish Amnon for the crime of rape. God prohibited all forms of rape. If Tamar had been engaged to someone else, Amnon’s punishment would have been death. Because she was not engaged, Amnon was required to pay a fine that was worth more than four years in wages or six years of indentured servitude: “25 But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.” 28 If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.” (Dt. 22:25-29). “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.” (Ex. 22:16). What was the value of 50 silver shekels? According to one Old Testament scholar, the average male laborers in Biblical times earned approximately one silver shekel per month (Wenham, Gordon, The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), p. 338). Thus, for the average male laborer aged 20 to 60 earning 1 shekel a month, it would take 50 months or four years and two months to pay for a rape. Yet, that assumed that the person had 4.2 years of wages on hand to pay the fine. Few would have those kinds of resources. And Amnon could not take this money from the royal treasury to pay for his personal sins. If he had done so, he would have been guilty of the additional crime of embezzlement. Installment payments were also not an option. Even if they were, payments amounting to 50% of the person’s wages would take 8.3 years to pay off. We can see the high cost of 50 silver shekels when David later bought a threshing floor from Araunah for the hefty price of 50 silver shekels (2 Sam. 24:24). What would happen to Amnon as a rapist who could not pay up front 50 months of gross wages? He would be sold into indentured servitude (not slavery) for six years. He would be freed only on the seventh year: “12 If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.” (Dt. 15:12). Yet, his freedom did not release him from the requirement to pay restitution. His sale price and any wages earned while working as a servant would go toward the 50 silver shekels. Thus, God provided for a severe punishment for rapists. For the unsaved rapist, he was further barred from heaven. These penalties existed to serve as a heavy deterrent against rapists. Yet, if David did not enforce the law with his own children, others with power would request favors as well.
David was required to administer God’s law without favoritism. As the King of Israel and the highest judge in the land, David was required to judge according to God’s law: “In a dispute they shall take their stand to judge; they shall judge it according to My ordinances.” (Ezek. 44:24). David was further prohibited from showing favoritism to his son because of his power as the crown prince of Israel: “You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.” (Lev. 19:15; Ex. 23:8; Dt. 16:19; 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:17-19). By failing to judge impartially, David dishonored God and His standards for righteousness.
David’s discipline would have shown his true love for Amnon. A father disciplines a wayward child out of love to correct the behavior. As our example, God the Father administers spiritual discipline out of love to correct wayward behavior: “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son who He receives.” (Heb. 12:6; Dt. 8:5). “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” (Rev. 3:19; Prov. 3:12). Because Amnon was the designated future King of Israel, his punishment had to be more severe because he should have known the law. He also had to be an example to others: “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few.” (Lk. 12:47-8; 1 Cor. 11:32). Although no one likes to be disciplined, you can draw comfort when you receive discipline because it shows that God is trying to mold your behavior out of love for you to conform to His will: “I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4). When God disciplines you through trials caused by your sins, do you rejoice for the Lord’s correction in your life? (Ja. 1:2).
David would have likely been disqualified from serving as a New Testament leader. David was lucky that he was not seeking to be a leader in a New Testament church. His many sins would have likely disqualified him. First, his failure to discipline his wayward children could have disqualified him from leadership. “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” (1 Tim. 3:4). Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households (1 Tim. 3:12). Second, even if he got passed these verses, his multiple wives would have also disqualified him from serving as a leader. The leader must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.” (1 Tim. 3:2). Third, his murder of Uriah also would have disqualified him from leadership: The leader also must not be “addicted to wine or be pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.” (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:6-10). A prospective leader must be content (1 Tim. 6:6-9). David’s failure to be content with one wife violated this rule as well. You will know godly leaders by their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 20). Have you kept yourself free from sin so that God can use you as a leader?
Absalom murdered his brother Amnon to avenge his sister Tamar. Acting as Tamar’s avenger, Absalom murdered his brother Amnon: “28 Absalom commanded his servants, saying, ‘See now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then put him to death. Do not fear; have not I myself commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.’ 29 The servants of Absalom did to Amnon just as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose and each mounted his mule and fled.” (2 Sam. 13:28-29). Absalom’s anger burned for two full years as he slowly plotted his revenge against Amnon. He waited until Amnon was drunk and defenseless to strike. Absalom further manipulated David to commit his crime. He had David send Amnon for food in the same way Amnon manipulated David to send Tamar with food. In each case, David unknowingly sent one of his children to be victimized.
Absalom murders his brother Amnon4
Absalom’s murder also fulfilled the prophecy that Nathan gave to David. Because David murdered Uriah, God warned through the prophet Nathan that David’s family would suffer from constant fighting: ‘“Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.”’ (2 Sam. 12:10). Just as he got Uriah drunk before murdering him, Absalom got Amnon drunk before murdering him. As one commentator also notes, “As David had abused his authority as the ‘king of Israel’ to sin against God by taking Bathsheba, Amnon now abuses his authority and position as a “son of the king” to take Tamar. As David sinned by killing Uriah, Absalom sinned by killing Amnon.” (Robert L. (Bob) Deffinbaugh “(14. Tragedy in the Royal Family (2 Samuel 13:1-36))”5
David’s failure to learn from Jacob’s silence in response to his daughter Dinah’s rape. If David had studied God’s Word, he could have learned from Jacob about the high cost of failing to administer justice as a parent. After a man named Shechem raped his daughter Dinah, neither Shechem nor his father Hamor showed any remorse. Instead, Hamor offered a dowry and the opportunity for the families to marry and do business together. The deal violated God’s law. But Jacob stayed silent because he stood to gain financially. This forced Dinah’s brothers to object to the deal. Yet, they used deceit as they plotted their vengeance (Gen. 34:8-17). The boys then murdered an entire village after the men agreed to be circumcised to become part of God’s people (Gen. 34:18-29).
David also failed to teach his children the importance of forgiveness. In addition to his duty to discipline and administer justice, it was David’s duty to teach his children to forgive one another. First, he should have instructed Amnon to repent of his actions. (Matt 3:2; 4:17; 5:23; Mk. 1:15; Acts 3:18; Eph. 1:7; 1 Jo. 1:9). Second, he should have told his children to forgive Amnon for the evil that he committed: “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44). “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions” (Mk. 11:25; Lk. 6:36; Matt. 6:15; 18:34-5; Mk. 11:26). God will not forgive you if you hold onto resentment towards others (Matt. 6:14). Forgiveness allows the victim to release emotional baggage she may carry for a lifetime. It also will help free the victim from ruining her family relationships.
Leave vengeance to God. Absalom made the mistake of believing that he had the right to take vengeance into his hands when vengeance belongs to God alone. ‘“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.’” (Dt. 32:35). “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.” (Ro. 12:19). When evil people cause harm to you or your loved ones, do you retaliate against them?
David learns of Absalom’s murder of Amnon but takes no action to discipline Absalom. David did not learn from his mistakes in dealing with Amnon’s sins. He again took no action to discipline Absalom for his crimes: “30 Now it was while they were on the way that the report came to David, saying, ‘Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left.’ 31 Then the king arose, tore his clothes and lay on the ground; and all his servants were standing by with clothes torn. 32 Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, responded, ‘Do not let my lord suppose they have put to death all the young men, the king’s sons, for Amnon alone is dead; because by the intent of Absalom this has been determined since the day that he violated his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore, do not let my lord the king take the report to heart, namely, ‘all the king’s sons are dead,’ for only Amnon is dead.’ 34 Now Absalom had fled. And the young man who was the watchman raised his eyes and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. 35 Jonadab said to the king, ‘Behold, the king’s sons have come; according to your servant’s word, so it happened.’ 36 As soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king’s sons came and lifted their voices and wept; and also the king and all his servants wept very bitterly.” (2 Sam. 13:30-36). David obviously knew that Absalom was angry enough to perpetrate terrible acts of revenge for Amnon’s unaddressed crimes. Thus, David did not act with disbelief regarding the initial false report that Absalom had killed all of his brothers. Jonadab then sought to curry favor with his uncle David by advising him of the news that only Amnon had died. Yet, Jonadab was the one who set these events in motion with his wicked advice (2 Sam 13:3-5). Jonadab had not joined his sons at the feast. The only way he could have known the reasons for the murder is if Absalom had told him about his plans in advance. Although the Bible does not say who gave the initial false report, the context suggests that Jonadab may have done so to manipulate David. David wept bitterly as a grieving father. Yet, he again failed to take any action. His prior failure to act upon Amnon’s sins lead to Absalom’s decision to avenge his sister. His failure to discipline Absalom would also have future adverse consequences for his kingdom.
The punishment for Absalom’s murder was death. God’s punishment for murder is death: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.” (Gen 9:6; Ex. 21:12; Lev. 24:17; Nu. 35:30). For someone like Absalom who lies in wait and strikes out of anger, there was no question about the punishment: “If he pushed him of hatred, or threw something at him lying in wait and as a result he died, or if he struck him down with his hand in enmity, and as a result he died, the one who struck him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer . . .” (Nu. 35:20-21). As king, it was David’s duty to uphold the law for all, including his own family.
David would lose his throne and suffer civil war after failing to bring Absalom to justice. Just as David’s failure to discipline Amnon would have consequences, so would his failure to discipline Absalom. Absalom would temporarily seize power and start a civil war. David would again learn that the sins of omission can be just as deadly as the sin of commission. A parent who sows rebellion will likely see their children rebel as well.
Absalom flees to the foreign kingdom of his maternal grandfather. Knowing the punishment for his crimes was death, Absalom fled from Israel: “37 Now Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day. 38 So Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead.” (2 Sam. 13:37-38). Even though David did not execute Absalom for his murder, Absalom knew that his brothers might still seek revenge against him. He did not flee to a city of refuge because he was guilty and would likely have been executed after a trial. Thus, he fled to the king of Geshur. He effectively rejected the Jewish people and adopted as his home the land where his maternal grandmother came from (2 Sam. 3:3). David again only longed for reconciliation, not for justice.
Amnon’s exile also fulfilled David’s punishment for his sins. David sentenced himself to fourfold restitution for his crimes of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 12:6). He had previously lost his son with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 12:15-19). He now had lost Amnon and Absalom. His self-imposed punishment would be complete with the death of Adonijah.
David’s sins brought suffering to him, his entire family, and the nation. God allowed David to experience the pain that he caused to others. If you are engaging in sins as a parent, God may also allow you to experience the pain that you have caused them.
Teach your children to fear God by hating evil. David’s children never repented of their sins. David failed to teach them the importance of fearing God. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; 15:33; Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28; Ecc. 12:13). The fear of the Lord is defined as hating the one thing in life that you are allowed to hate, evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13; 16:6). Are you teaching your children to fear God by hating evil?
Place your family under the protections of God’s shield. By his own sins and by failing to teach and administer God’s law, David failed as a father to place his family under God’s protection: “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Prov. 30:5; Ps. 18:30). Like Joshua, David should have submitted his family to serve God “. . . as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh. 24:15(b)). Have you submitted your family to serve Jesus to receive His full protection?
As a parent, be a holy witness for God by your conduct. David could have avoided many of these problems if he lived his life as an example for his children to follow. Jesus is the light of the world (Jo. 8:12). Yet, until He returns, His light shines on others through you to your children and others. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” (Matt. 5:14-15). Paul reveals that believers are “ambassadors” for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). Thus, your conduct should fairly represent Him to your children and others: “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Phil. 2:15). You are the only Bible that some may ever read. Do your actions misrepresent His light?
Give thanks as a family for Jesus’ sacrifice. It might be tempting to look at David’s family with disdain. Yet, in God’s eyes, “there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” (Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:23). Thus, Job sacrificed and prayed for his kids in case they had sinned (Job 1:5). As a parent, do you lead your family in prayers of gratitude for the price that Jesus paid for your family’s sins?
Image credit: Jan Havicksz. Steen: Amnon and Tamar (artbible.info)↩︎
Image credit: Eustache Le Sueur: The Rape of Tamar (artbible.info)↩︎