After brutally attacking his half-sister Tamar, Amnon’s “love” obsession immediately turned to “turned to hate” (II Samuel 13:15b, NLT). “Get out of here!” (II Samuel 13:15c), Amnon screamed at Tamar.
The very person Amnon had been convinced he desperately wanted was now completely repulsive to him. How many people, having obtained the wrongful thing they were so certain they wanted, have reacted in the very same way? Sin blinds; then, once it’s sucked you into its clutches, removes the blindfold and unveils the ugly reality.
But what was done was done. “‘No, no!’ Tamar cried. ‘Sending me away now is worse than what you’ve already done to me.’ But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her. He shouted for his servant and demanded, ‘Throw this woman out, and lock the door behind her!’ So the servant put her out and locked the door behind her” (II Samuel 13:16-18a).
Like a common prostitute, like so much trash, Amnon kicked Tamar to the curb. While the servants could have speculated on why Amnon wanted to be alone with Tamar, they wouldn’t have had any evidence to back up their suspicions had Amnon kept his evil deed a private matter. At least, had he done that much for Tamar, she wouldn’t have been publicly humiliated and might have still been able to be given in marriage.
As it was, though, the whole town would soon know about Tamar leaving her half-brother’s home in bed-wrinkled clothing. Her reputation was ruined and, with it, any chances of ever having a husband.
Tamar “was wearing a long, beautiful robe, as was the custom in those days for the king’s virgin daughters. But now Tamar tore her robe and put ashes on her head. And then, with her face in her hands, she went away crying” (II Samuel 13:18b-19).
Tamar’s actions in tearing “her robe” and putting “ashes on her head” were signs of mourning. But even her grief and tears didn’t tell the story of what had happened. Amnon’s cold-hearted ejection of his traumatized half-sister still hinted, if not screamed, that she was simply the spurned aggressor.
The rumor mill got started in a hurry, but one person who heard Amnon’s version of the story knew Tamar well enough to know she would never have willingly done such a thing. “Her brother Absalom saw her and asked, ‘Is it true that Amnon has been with you? Well, my sister, keep quiet for now, since he’s your brother. Don’t you worry about it.’ So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother Absalom’s house” (II Samuel 13:20).
There was no way to erase Tamar’s disgrace. There was no way to recover Tamar’s reputation. But Absalom did the best he could; he brought her into his home and under his protection.
What about dear ol’ Dad? What was David’s reaction? “When King David heard what had happened, he was very angry” (II Samuel 13:21).
Big whoop. How to explain David’s inaction? The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) adds this commentary: “But he saddened not the spirit of his son Amnon, because he loved him, because he was his first-born.” David didn’t want to upset his favored son and heir to the throne.
David also knew, with no witnesses, it was Tamar’s word against Amnon’s, and that would never hold up in a court of law. David’s top reason, though, had to be his own track record, which Amnon would have no doubt thrown in his father’s face.
In other words, Amnon was going to get away with it. Or was he?
“I’m against sin. I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!” (Billy Sunday)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates