2 Samuel 13:1-33
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar…
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.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.