Amnon was sick with frustration over his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed implausible for him to do anything to her.
Every one must have been struck by the remarkable fact that while David was so admirable as a governor of a kingdom, he was so unsuccessful as a ruler of his own house.
The chastisements which David experienced came upon him chiefly through his family. The misconduct of his sons was largely due to his own "in the matter of Uriah," and his defective discipline (l 1 Samuel 3:13
; 1 Kings 1:6
) in connection with polygamy
(2 Samuel 3:1-5
). "This institution is the absolutely irrepressible source of numberless evils of this description. It ever furnishes a ready stimulus to unbounded sensual desire in the sovereign, and, should he be exalted above it, is likely to introduce a dissolute life among the very different children of different mothers, by bringing the pleasures of sense so prominently and so early before their eyes. The subsequent troubles with Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah were all connected with this fundamental wrong; and on the same thread hung many of the evils which were felt under David's successors" (Ewald). "Having grown up without strict paternal discipline, simply under the care of their different mothers, who were jealous of one another, his sons fancied that they might gratify their own fleshly lusts, and carry out their own ambitious plans" (Keil). Amnon his eldest son (by Ahinoam of Jezreel, whom David married during his exile, 1 Samuel 25:43
; and born in Hebron, 2 Samuel 3:2
) was now about twenty years of age. "His character and conduct were doubtless affected by the fact that he was the firstborn son, and of a mother apparently not of the noblest birth." In him (regarded as a warning especially to young men
) we notice -
I. IMPURE AFFECTION, springing up in the heart, and not repressed, but fondly cherished. His passion was contrary to the Divine Law, not merely because the object of it was his half-sister (ver. 13), but also because of its licentious nature (Matthew 5:28). His subsequent conduct indicates that it was not
"True love, that ever shows itself as clear
In kindness as loose appetite in wrong."
(Dante.) It is not improbable, from his ready entertainment of it, and the question of Absalom (ver. 20), that already he had given himself to unrestrained indulgence of his passions. When once "reason by lust is swayed," the heart becomes a congenial soil for all unholy affections. And the only sure safeguard is to "keep the heart with all diligence;" by giving no place to an impure thought, avoiding every incentive to "fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," the exercise of habitual self-denial, and prayer for Divine grace (Matthew 5:29; Matthew 15:19).
II. INWARD MISERY, proceeding from restless passion and fretful discontent at hindrances and restraints in the way of its gratification (ver. 2). It is well that such hindrances and restraints exist (in Divine Law, public opinion, providential circumstances); for they afford opportunity for reflection, conviction of its sinful nature, and the adoption of all proper means whereby it may be overcome. Where it is still cherished, its strength increases and its force is felt more powerfully, as that of a river appears when a rock opposes its progress (Romans 7:7). "There is no peace to the wicked." "Amnon here neglected, indeed, the right means; viz. in time to have resisted his affections and not to have given way unto them; to have given himself to abstinence and some honest exercises which might have occupied his mind; then by some lawful matrimonial love to have overcome his unlawful lust; and to have prayed unto God for grace" (Willet).
III. DELIBERATE DISSIMULATION, displayed in crafty devices, adopted in accordance with evil suggestion, in order to selfish indulgence. He who suffers a sinful desire to reign within him is peculiarly susceptible to temptation, and readily yields to it; sometimes pursues a course of guile, and takes advantage of affection, kindness, and unsuspecting confidence. "The seducer is brother to the murderer." Blinded and infatuated, he resorts to the most subtle and contemptible expedients. And, alas! he too often succeeds.
IV. WILFUL PERSISTENCY in wickedness, notwithstanding the strongest inducements to the contrary (vers. 12, 13). "It is enough to suppose that the king had a dispensing power, which was conceived to cover even extreme cases." When persuasive craft is employed in vain to entice into sin, and the slave of passion meets with another merciful check by the opposition of virtue and piety ("in Israel"), he is driven on to more brutal, though less diabolical methods of accomplishing his base designs. The dishonour done to the highest claims (of God, religion, his people), the disgrace incurred, the misery inflicted, should be sufficient to deter from "foolish and hurtful lusts;" but with him they are of no avail. "The unjust knoweth no shame" (Zephaniah 3:5; Isaiah 26:10). Then one evil passion is replaced by another.
"Sweet love, I see, changing his property,
Turns to the sourest and most deadly hate."
(Shakespeare.) He hated her, but did not hate his own sin. Thus he showed that the love he had professed to her was not love, but lust; that it was not of God, but of the evil one (Wordsworth). "It is characteristic of human nature to hate whom you have injured" (Tacitus). "Such are the baits and allurements of sin, which have a pleasant taste at the first, but in the end bite like a serpent; therefore one saith that pleasures must be considered, not as they come, but as they go" (Wilier). "He feedeth on ashes," etc. (Isaiah 44:20). The victim of evil desire becomes an object of bitter aversion, is pitilessly thrust away, maliciously defamed, and thus more grievously wronged: the true picture of many a desolated life! "What men dignify with the name of love is commonly a base sensual inclination, entire selfishness, which triumphs over the conscience and the fear of God, and without pity consigns its object to irreparable disgrace and misery for the sake of a momentary gratification! How different from that love which the Law of God commands! yea, how contrary to it!" (Scott).
V. DELUSIVE SECURITY, arising from the persuasion that secret iniquity may escape retribution. The transgressor thinks, perhaps, that it cannot be proved, no one will venture to call him to account for it, and that it is not worse than other crimes that go unpunished. Whatever fears (ver. 21) or suspicions he may at first entertain, are laid asleep by the lapse of time (ver. 23). He is not led to repentance by the long suffering of Heaven, and he heeds not its wrath. But "judgment lingereth not," etc. (2 Peter 2:3).
VI. SUDDEN DESTRUCTION, inflicted by an unexpected hand (vers. 20, 28, 32). Where public law fails to do justice, private hostility finds means to take vengeance. One sin produces another, and is punished by it; craft by craft, violence by violence, hatred by hatred. "The way of trangressors is hard" (Proverbs 13:15; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 29:1). - D.
Absalom the son of David had a fair sister.
No other book but the Bible dare have inserted such a chronicle as this and yet have hoped to retain the attention and confidence of the whole world through all ages. A chapter of this kind is not to be read in its singularity, as if it stood wholly alone and unrelated to other currents of human history. Coming upon it as an exceptional story, the only possible feeling is one of intense and repugnant disgust. If this chapter, and a few others almost like it, occupied any considerable space in the Bible, without being relieved by a context of a very different quality, they would certainly and properly wreck the fortune of the whole book as a public instructor and guide. Amnon did not represent a human nature different from our own. It must always be considered that such men as Amnon and Judas Iscariot represented the very human nature which we ourselves embody. The difference between the sweet child and the corrupt and infernal Amnon may in reality be but a difference in appearance and form. Time alone can tell what is in every human heart, and not, time only, for circumstances sometimes awaken either our best selves or our worst selves and surprise us by what is little less than a miracle of self-revelation Again and again, therefore, let it be said — for the tediousness is well compensated by the moral instruction — that when we see the worst specimen of human nature we see what we ourselves might have been but for the restraining grace of God. A relieving feature in the whole record is certainly to be found in the anger which was felt in regard to the outrage committed by Amnon. The outrage was not looked upon as a mere commonplace, or as a thing to be passed by a casual remark; it aroused the infinite indignation of Absalom, and in this ease Absalom, as certainly as Amnon, must be taken in a representative capacity. Whilst, therefore, it is right to look upon this most heartrending and discouraging aspect of human nature, it is rights also to remember that those who observed it answered the unholy deed with burning indignations, It is thus that the Spirit of God reveals itself through the spirit of man. This is not the voice of Absalom alone; it is the voice of the Spirit which fills and rules the world. We need men who dare express their angriest and holiest feelings in indignation that cannot be mitigated or turned aside; we need men who have courage to go forth and make their voices heard in moral darkness. Absalom killed Amnon, and killed him in a somewhat cowardly way; yet it would be difficult to blame Absalom for this act of fraternal reprisal and justice. Still, it is just at such critical points that the spirit of Christian civilisation intervenes and undertakes to do for the individual man what the individual man must not be permitted to do for himself. Here is the mystery of society. It would seem a short and easy method for every man who is outraged immediately to cause the criminal to suffer, but on second thoughts it will appear, first, that this is impossible, and, secondly, that it is utterly impracticable: impossible because in many cases the criminal may be stronger than the man who has been outraged, and impracticable because the criminal may by many cunning methods evade the punishment which the righteous man would inflict. These records are written not only for our instruction but for our warning. The most puristic mind may well pause before the record of this chapter and wonder as to his own possibilities of apostasy. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." "Be sure your sin will find you out." What is done in secret is to be proclaimed from the house-tops, and a sudden light is to unveil that which is supposed to be covered by the densest concealment. Society would be rent in twain by the very suspicion that there may be Amnons within its circle, but for the conviction that the Lord reigneth, and that all things make for righteousness and justice under his beneficent rule.
A living sorrow, says the proverb, is worse than a dead. The dead sorrow had been very grievous to David; what the living sorrow, of which this chapter tells us, must have been, we cannot conceive. It is a very repulsive picture of sensuality that this chapter presents. One would suppose float Amnon and Absalom had been accustomed to the wild orgies of pagan idolatry. Nathan had rebuked David because he had given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. This in God's eyes was a grievous offence. Amnon and Absalom are now guilty of the same offence in another form, because they afford a pretext for ungodly men to say that the families of holy men are no better — perhaps that they are worse — than other families. In Scripture some men have very short biographies; Amnon is one of these. And, like Cain, all that is recorded of him has the mark of infamy. We can easily understand that it was a great disaster to him to be a king's son. To have his position in life determined and all his wants supplied without an effort on his part; to be so accustomed to indulge his legitimate feelings that when illegitimate desires rose up it seemed but natural that they too should be gratified; to be surrounded by parasites and flatterers, that would make a point of never crossing him nor uttering a disagreeable word, but constantly encouraging his tastes — all this was extremely dangerous. And when his father had set him the example, it was hardly possible he would avoid the snare. There is every reason to believe that before he is presented to us in this chapter he was already steeped in sensuality. It was his misfortune to have a friend, Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother, "a very subtil man," who at heart must trove been as great a profligate as himself. For if Jonadab had been anything but a profligate, Amnon would never have confided to him his odious desire with reference to his half-sister, and Jonadab would never have given him the advice that he did. What a blessing to Anmon, at this stage of the tragedy, would have been the faithful advice of an honest friend — one who would have had the courage to declare the infamy of his proposal, and who would have so placed it in the light of truth that it would have shocked and horrified even Amnon himself l In reality, the friend was more guilty than the culprit. The one was blinded by passion; the other was self-possessed and cool. The cool man encourages the heated; the sober man urges on the intoxicated. The plan which Jonadab proposes for Amnon to obtain the object of his desire is founded on a stratagem which he is to practise on his father. He is to pretend sickness, and under this pretext to get matters arranged by his father as he would like. If anything more was needed to show the accomplished villainy of Amnon, it is his treatment of Tamar after he has violently compassed her ruin. It is the story so often repeated even at this day — the ruined victim flung aside in dishonour, and left unpitied to her shame. We think of those men of the olden time as utter barbarians who confined their foes in dismal dungeons, making their lives a continual torture, and denying them the slightest solace to the miseries of captivity. But what shall we say of those, high-born and wealthy men, it may be, who doom their cast-off victims to an existence of wretchedness and degradation which has no gleam of enjoyment, compared with which the silence and loneliness of a prison would he a luxury? Can the selfishness of sin exhibit itself anywhere or anyhow more terribly? If David winked, Absalom did nothing of the kind. Such treatment of his full sister, if the king chose to let it alone, could not be left alone by the proud, indignant brother. He nursed his wrath, and watched for his opportunity. Nothing short of the death of Anmon would suffice him. And that death must be compassed not in open fight but by assassination. And now the first part of the retribution denounced by Nathan begins to be fulfilled, and fulfilled very fearfully — "the sword shall never depart from thy house."
1. First of all, in accounting for the troubles of his house, we have again to notice his plurality of wives — a sure source not only of domestic trouble, but of ungodliness too. The training of the young, and all the more since the Fall, is attended with very great difficulties; and unless father and mother be united, visibly united, in affection, in judgment, and in piety, the difficulty of raising a godly seed is very greatly increased. In David's house there must have been sad confusion. There could have been no happy and harmonious co-operation between father and mother in training the children, Hence the paramount importance of the apostle's exhortation — "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."
2. Further, David's own example, in certain respects, was another cause of the ill-ordered state of his family. A parent may have a hundred good qualities, and but very few bad, but the risk of his children adopting the bad is much greater than the likelihood of their copying the good. The bent of their fallen nature inclines them to the one; only Divine grace can draw them to the other. The character Of David was singularly rich in fine qualities, but it was also marked by a few flaring defects. One was, proneness to animal indulgence; another, the occasional absence of straightforwardness. These were the very defects which his children copied.
3. A third cause of David's failure in the government of his family was the excessive, even morbid tenderness of his feelings towards his children — especially some of them. Perhaps a fourth reason may be added for David's ill success in his family — though of this there is less positive proof than of the rest — he may have thought of his family circle as too exclusively a scene for relaxation and enjoyment — he may have forgot that even there is a call for much vigilance and self-denial. Men much harassed with public business and care are prone to this error. In truth, there is no recreation in absolute idleness, and no happiness in neglect of duty. True recreation lies not in idleness, but in change of employment, and true happiness is found not in neglecting duty, but in its performance.
()The wires became crossed; there was a flash, a beautiful pyrotechnic display, and then the machinery that ought to have lasted years longer was still — a mass of inert matter fit only to go to the shop and undergo extensive repairs. "She got short-circuited, and burned herself out," was the explanation of the engineer. No one questions that selfish indulgence and sin yield more intense and feverish pleasure than a life of self-control and unselfishness. All normal pleasures are moderate, because it is the wise design of nature to have them often repeated and continued through a long period, culminating at the" end. To yield to a desire for immoderate indulgence of any kind, whether it is the pursuit of the pleasures of appetite, or of business successes, or of social excitement, or intellectual dissipation in novel-reading or the play, is simply to short-circuit our lives and burn out in a few fitful flashes the possibilities of enjoyment that should have been extended over a long and happy lifetime.
Tytler's History.Tarquinius' son Sextus, lawless and flagitious, had committed a rape on Lucretia. The dead body of the violated Lucretia was brought into the forum, and Brutus, throwing off his assumed disguise of insanity, appeared the passionate advocate of a just revenge, and the animated orator in the cause of liberty against tyrannical oppression. The people were roused in a moment, and were prompt and unanimous in their procedure. Tarquinius was at this time absent from the city, engaged in a war with the Rutulians. The Senate was assembled, and pronounced a decree which banished forever the tyrant, and at the same time utterly abolished the name and office of king.
()Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, finding that two or three of the boys had been guilty of impurity of both speech and action, he promptly dismissed them from the school. The directors, meeting later on, took the Doctor severely to task for the drastic measures he had resorted to, and said "at that rate the college would soon be empty." He simply replied that he "would rather see the number reduced to twelve, and have purity of thought and action, than bad moral influence to have a foothold."
PeopleAbsalom, Ammihud, Amnon, David, Jonadab, Shimeah, Talmai, Tamar
PlacesBaal-hazor, Geshur, Jerusalem
TopicsAccount, Afflicted, Amnon, Anything, Deeply, Difficult, Distress, Distressed, Fell, Frustrated, Ill, Illness, Impossible, Least, Love, Point, Seemed, Sick, Sister, Tamar, Tormented, Troubled, Vexed, Virgin
Outline1. Amnon loving Tamar, by Jonadab's counsel feigning himself sick, ravishes her.
15. He hates her, and shamefully turns her away
19. Absalom entertains her, and conceals his purpose
23. At a sheep-shearing among all the king's sons, he kills Amnon
31. David grieving at the news, is comforted by Jonadab
37. Absalom flies to Talmai at Geshur
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Samuel 13:2
2 Samuel 13:1-11
2 Samuel 13:1-14
2 Samuel 13:1-19
5707 male and female
2 Samuel 13:1-20
2 Samuel 13:1-21
5087 David, reign of
2 Samuel 13:1-22
2 Samuel 13:1-33
LibrarySaurin -- Paul Before Felix and Drusilla
Jacques Saurin, the famous French Protestant preacher of the seventeenth century, was born at Nismes in 1677. He studied at Geneva and was appointed to the Walloon Church in London in 1701. The scene of his great life work was, however, the Hague, where he settled in 1705. He has been compared with Bossuet, tho he never attained the graceful style and subtilty which characterize the "Eagle of Meaux." The story is told of the famous scholar Le Clerc that he long refused to hear Saurin preach, on the …
Grenville Kleiser—The world's great sermons, Volume 3
Blessed are they that Mourn
Blessed are they that mourn. Matthew 5:4 Here are eight steps leading to true blessedness. They may be compared to Jacob's Ladder, the top whereof reached to heaven. We have already gone over one step, and now let us proceed to the second: Blessed are they that mourn'. We must go through the valley of tears to paradise. Mourning were a sad and unpleasant subject to treat on, were it not that it has blessedness going before, and comfort coming after. Mourning is put here for repentance. It implies …
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12
No Sorrow Like Messiah's Sorrow
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold, and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow! A lthough the Scriptures of the Old Testament, the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophecies (Luke 24:44) , bear an harmonious testimony to MESSIAH ; it is not necessary to suppose that every single passage has an immediate and direct relation to Him. A method of exposition has frequently obtained [frequently been in vogue], of a fanciful and allegorical cast [contrivance], under the pretext …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Exhortations to Christians as they are Children of God
1 There is a bill of indictment against those who declare to the world they are not the children of God: all profane persons. These have damnation written upon their forehead. Scoffers at religion. It were blasphemy to call these the children of God. Will a true child jeer at his Father's picture? Drunkards, who drown reason and stupefy conscience. These declare their sin as Sodom. They are children indeed, but cursed children' (2 Peter 2:14). 2 Exhortation, which consists of two branches. (i) Let …
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12
Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.' Acts 11: 18. Repentance seems to be a bitter pill to take, but it is to purge out the bad humour of sin. By some Antinomian spirits it is cried down as a legal doctrine; but Christ himself preached it. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent,' &c. Matt 4: 17. In his last farewell, when he was ascending to heaven, he commanded that Repentance should be preached in his name.' Luke 24: 47. Repentance is a pure gospel grace. …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
Alike from the literary and the historical point of view, the book of Samuel stands midway between the book of Judges and the book of Kings. As we have already seen, the Deuteronomic book of Judges in all probability ran into Samuel and ended in ch. xii.; while the story of David, begun in Samuel, embraces the first two chapters of the first book of Kings. The book of Samuel is not very happily named, as much of it is devoted to Saul and the greater part to David; yet it is not altogether inappropriate, …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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