Now Absalom had ordered his young men, "Watch Amnon until his heart is merry with wine, and when I order you to strike Amnon down, you are to kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant!"
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.
Absalom hated Amnon. References:
1. Third son (Chileab, probably, being dead) of David, by Maacab, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur; born at Hebron, his name ("father of peace") indicating, perhaps, the hope entertained at his birth (2 Samuel 3:1-5). "The young handsome hero must have been conspicuous among the soldiers of Israel, and taken his place among the sons of David, who were 'chief rulers.'"
2. Hatred (when about eighteen years old) and murder (after two years).
3. Flight to Geshur (ver. 38) and residence there (three years).
4. Return (2 Samuel 14:23, 24) and partial reconciliation (during two years); married about this time, and father of three sons (dying in infancy, 2 Samuel 14:27; 2 Samuel 18:18) and one daughter (Tamar, named after his sister).
5. Full reconciliation (2 Samuel 14:33; 2 Samuel 15:1-11) and preparation for revolt (four years).
6. Conspiracy in Hebron (2 Samuel 15:12, 13).
7. Occupation of Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15:37; 2 Samuel 16:15-19), possession of the palace (2 Samuel 15:20-23), anointed king (2 Samuel 19:10), consultations (2 Samuel 17:1-14).
8. Pursuit of David, and defeat in battle (2 Samuel 17:24-26; 2 Samuel 18:1-8).
9. Slain by Joab (2 Samuel 18:9-18). 10. Lamented by David (2 Samuel 18:33; 2 Samuel 19:1-4). Revenge is sinful resentment. It is felt, on account of real or supposed injury, toward the person rather than the conduct of the offender; desires his suffering, not his improvement; and seeks it maliciously, deliberately, and unlawfully. "All pain occasioned to another in consequence of an offence or injury received from him, further than what is calculated to procure reparation or promote the just ends of punishment, is so much revenge" (Paley, 'Mot. Ph.'). It is "a kind of wild justice" (Bacon, 'Essays'). Of the spirit of revenge, which was embodied in Absalom, and too often finds a place in others, observe -
I. ITS SEEMING JUSTIFICATION; for he who indulges it commonly seeks to justify himself therein (2 Samuel 14:32), it may be, on account of:
1. The grievous wrong suffered, directly or in the person of another with whom he is closely connected. The more this is brooded over, the greater it appears and the more it incites to wrath.
2. The natural instinct of anger and retaliation, which is
"Far, far too dear to every mortal breast,
Sweet to the soul as honey to the taste."
(Homer.) But it must be directed, controlled, often completely repressed by justice and love. "The taking vengeance on a foe is honourable," it has been said, "rather than the being reconciled" (Aristotle, 'Rhetoric'). True wisdom teaches otherwise (1 Samuel 11:12, 13; Proverbs 20:22; Proverbs 24:29).
3. The culpable failure of justice, on the part of the civil magistrate, "the minister of God," etc. (Romans 13:4). It may be a temptation to private vengeance; but it does not warrant any one in taking the law into his own hands; whilst by doing so he becomes a breaker of the law and justly liable to its penalty. "The revenge which he took for the foul wrong that his sister had suffered at the hands of Amnon did not shock the men of Israel as it shocks us. To him, by the feeling of all Oriental nations, belonged the special guardianship of her honour; and subtly as the punishment was inflicted, it was nothing more than the monstrous turpitude of the guilt deserved. Had David been true to his kingly calling, instead of passing the crime over with a weak sorrow and a yet weaker leniency, there would have been no occasion for the vengeance which Absalom felt himself bound to take. The two long years of waiting which followed on his revenge, must have been a time in which disappointment, irritation, bitterness against his father, were gaining, slowly but surely, the mastery over him" (Plumptre).
II. ITS SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS.
1. Enduring and implacable hatred (ver. 23); a malicious purpose formed from the first (as his intimate companion read in his countenance, ver. 32), but concealed that it might be the more effectually accomplished when opportunity served. "A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well" (Bacon).
2. Subtle and deceitful scheming (vers. 24, 26); under pretence of kindness; and taking a base advantage of affection, consideration, and confidence. Ver. 25 is "the first instance history offers of the ruinous cost of royal visits to those who are honoured with them" (Kitto).
3. Pitiless and treacherous cruelty (ver. 28; 2 Samuel 11:13). Another instance of indulgence in intoxication (1 Samuel 25:36, 37; 2 Samuel 11:13). "Absalom calls the execution of this base cruelty in his servants, courage and valour; being indeed but treacherous and cowardly murder; which shows that vices are ofttimes coloured with the name of virtues, as drunkenness is called good fellowship, avarice good husbandry, subtlety to deceive wisdom, and pride magnanimity" (Guild). It is not improbable that he wished to get rid of Amnon as an obstacle in the way to the throne. "The wild acts of Absalom's life may have been to some extent the results of maternal training; they were at least characteristic of the stock from which he sprang" (Smith, 'Dict.'). "From his father he inherited nothing but his regal pride" (Ewald). "He was a man who could scheme deeply, bide his time patiently, and then strike with decision and daring" (D. Macleod).
III. ITS EXCEEDING SINFULNESS.
1. Disbelief in the presence and justice of God, who, though man fails to punish, "will by no means clear the guilty."
2. Insensibility to his forbearance, which should teach the like (1 Samuel 24:13; Matthew 5:48).
3. Disobedience to the Divine Law, which is fulfilled in one word," etc. (Galatians 5:14), and to many special injunctions (Romans 12:9; Matthew 6:15).
4. Fruitfulness in wickedness and crime (1 John 3:15), with all their evil consequences to others and to a man himself (vers. 36, 37). "Absalom fled from man, who only could kill the body; but he could not fly from blood guiltiness and an accusing conscience, nor yet from the hand of God's justice, which did reach him afterwards" (Guild). "It was asked of the sage, 'In what one virtue are all the rest comprised?' 'Patience,' was his answer. 'And in what single vice are all others concentrated?' 'Vindictiveness'" (Rabbi Salomon Ibn Gabirol). "Whereas some may be apt to suspect that the patient bearing of one injury may invite another, I believe it will be found quite otherwise, that the revenging of one injury brings on another; the one is like the withdrawing of fuel or combustible matter, which will soon put out the fire, and the other is continually furnishing fresh fuel, mixed with oil and gunpowder and such inflaming materials as are apt to spread the fire of contention, but not to extinguish it" (J. Blair: 1740).
CONCLUSION. How odious is the spirit of revenge! He who gives way to it might as well cherish a venomous serpent in his bosom. "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). - 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
TopicsAbsalom, Ab'salom, Afraid, Amnon, Amnon's, Attack, Brave, Commanded, Commandeth, Courageous, Death, Drinking, Fear, Glad, Haven't, Heart, Kill, Listen, Mark, Merry, Myself, Note, Order, Ordered, Orders, Saying, Servants, Slay, Smite, Sons, Spirits, Strike, Strong, Valiant, Valour, Wine, Yea
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 13:28
2 Samuel 13:1-33
2 Samuel 13:22-32
2 Samuel 13:23-29
2 Samuel 13:23-36
2 Samuel 13:28-29
9021 death, natural
2 Samuel 13:28-32
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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