MENU

Where the world comes to study the Bible

Report Inappropriate Ad

Q. What Should The "Tamars" (2 Samuel 13) Do?

Question

Hi,

It was great having someone explain 2 Samuel 13. Thank you.

I was wondering if you could help me. Revenge, betrayal, lust, forgiveness, and sins of our fathers are the themes of this chapter. It is absolute tragedy, and I cringe for Tamar. What do “Tamar’s” of this world do? How are they to forgive? How are they to stop the continued “curse” (for lack of a better word)? We don’t have to be desolate in our day in age, but we are on the inside. How does one overcome this to be all that God intends?

Answer

Dear *******,

First of all, it appears to me that Tamar was a true victim. I don’t see anything she did to encourage or provoke this evil deed, nor did she in any way contribute to this great sin. Indeed, she pled with Amnon not to sin in this way. Having said this, I do see folly and sin on the part of Amnon, his “friend” Jonadab, and even David, who foolishly creates a situation where Amnon could sin as he did. And then, David did not do anything to deal with this sin. Absalom did not deal with it rightly, either. All of this is a way of saying that Tamar was the only innocent person involved.

There is absolutely no way to justify what took place on this occasion. It certainly reveals the sinfulness of man, and it does give us essential background regarding the ultimate rebellion of Absalom in seeking to take the kingdom from his father.

But what we should also keep in mind is that God has a special concern for the oppressed and the abused:

  • Judges 2:18
  • 1 Samuel 1:15ff.
  • Psalm 9:9; 10:17-18; 103:6; 146:5-10
  • Isaiah 10:1-2

Thus, God would have a heart of compassion toward Tamar. While this is not the focus of the text, it is still true. I believe that this woman’s suffering may have been the very thing which caused Tamar to turn her eyes to God. Thus, I believe that she would agree with the psalmist:

Before I was afflicted I used to stray off,
but now I keep your instructions (Psalm 119:67, NET).

I know, LORD, that your regulations are just.
You disciplined me because of your faithful devotion to me (Psalm 119:75).

If I had not found encouragement in your law,
I would have died in my sorrow.
93 I will never forget your precepts,
for by them you have revived me.
94 I belong to you. Deliver me!
For I seek your precepts.
95 The wicked prepare to kill me,
yet I concentrate on your rules (Psalm 119:92-95).

The spirit of the sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has chosen me. He has commissioned me to encourage the poor, to help the brokenhearted, to decree the release of captives, and the freeing of prisoners (Isaiah 61:1).

As I look at the “counsel” of Job’s friends, and at the assumption of the disciples that someone related to the man born blind (John 9) must have sinned. Jesus says otherwise:

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but he was born blind so that the acts of God may be revealed through what happens to him (John 9:3).

Beyond this, our Lord Jesus suffered greater abuse than any man or woman on earth, and this in order to bring about the salvation of lost and unworthy sinners. This puts our suffering in perspective:

Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are perverse. 19 For this finds God’s favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. 21 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:18-25).

Peter, Paul, and the apostles therefore found it possible to rejoice in suffering:

Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. 16 But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name (1 Peter 4:12-16).

More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things– indeed, I regard them as dung!– that I may gain Christ, 9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness– a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness. 10 My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:8-11).

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body– for the sake of his body, the church– what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24).

When they were released, Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, 25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather, ‘Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot foolish things? 26 The kings of the earth stood together, and the rulers assembled together, against the Lord and against his Christ.’ 27 “For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. 29 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 30 while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously (Acts 4:23-31).

Finally, we know that God will deal appropriately with those who abuse His saints:

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater. 4 As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring. 5 This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering. 6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. 8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength, 10 when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed– and you did in fact believe our testimony (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10).

Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been (Revelation 6:9-11).

Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and the springs of water, and they turned into blood. 5 Now I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are just– the one who is and who was, the Holy One– because you have passed these judgments, 6 because they poured out the blood of your saints and prophets, so you have given them blood to drink. They got what they deserved!” (Revelation 16:4-6).

In conclusion, I’m reminded of Abraham’s words in Genesis 18:25:

Far be it from you to do such a thing– to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25)

Also, Jacob’s words come to mind, when he wrongly supposed that all his circumstances were somehow against him:

Their father Jacob said to them, “You are making me childless! Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone. And now you want to take Benjamin! Everything is against me” (Genesis 42:36).

After Jesus cured the deaf men, those who witnessed this miracle came to the right conclusion:

“He has done everything well” (Mark 7:37).

My wife and I lost our son Timmy to crib death early in our marriage. I remember well the comfort we had at that time, based on the character of God. The God who is all knowing, all powerful, and who loves to forgive sinners is the God who purposed to use the suffering of Tamar to His glory (and, for her good – Romans 8:28). Like Jacob, it may appear to us at the moment that our circumstances are against us, if we are trusting in Jesus, nothing can separate us from His love and gracious care.

What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all– how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).

Finally, I re-read your email, and I think one important question remains somewhat unanswered. If I understood you correctly you were asking something like this: “How can the Tamar’s of today deal with the injustices and abuses they experience?” I think there are several lines of biblical truth which can and should be pursued here.

First, the Sermon on the Mount, along with Matthew 11:28-30 seems to be addressed to those who are in some way oppressed:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way (Matthew 5:3-12).

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The point of this is not for our Lord to promise those who are suffering and oppressed that their troubles in this life will surely pass (which the “health and wealth gospel” seems to promise), but that heaven awaits those who suffer in this life, and particularly those godly saints who suffer on account of their faith.

Paul says something similar in 2 Corinthians chapter 4:

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, 10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body. 11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body. 12 As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak. 14 We do so because we know that the one who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison 18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:7-18).

Second, closely related to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4 are his words in chapter 1, in which he states that the comfort which God gives us in our trials and tribulations are the very comforts which we can now share with those who suffer in a similar way:

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

Third, faithfully enduring the abuse of those who falsely accuse and persecute believers will ultimately be the basis for our enemies giving glory to God when He comes to earth again:

Dear friends, I urge you as foreigners and exiles to keep away from fleshly desires that do battle against the soul, 12 and maintain good conduct among the non-Christians, so that though they now malign you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God when he appears (1 Peter 2:11-12).

Fourth Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel chapter 2 testifies to the fact that God hears the cries of the oppressed (see 2:1-10).

Finally, it is beneficial to reflect on the words of Paul and Peter on the subject of abuse:

Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are perverse. 19 For this finds God’s favor, if because of conscience toward God someone endures hardships in suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. 21 For to this you were called, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving an example for you to follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin nor was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was maligned, he did not answer back; when he suffered, he threatened no retaliation, but committed himself to God who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we may cease from sinning and live for righteousness. By his wounds you were healed. 25 For you were going astray like sheep but now you have turned back to the shepherd and guardian of your souls (1 Peter 2:18-25).

Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches. 18 Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts. 20 Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. 21 Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity. 22 For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men. 24 In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God. (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).

Paul told slaves that if they could change their status, that was fine. But if this was not possible, they were to live out the life of a slave in a manner that would bring glory to God, and would beautify the gospel. Throughout the centuries humble, powerless (humanly speaking) saints have endured their afflictions in a way that glorified God. In some instances God delivered them from their earthly afflictions, but ultimately all who suffer for the sake of Christ have an eternity of eternal bliss awaiting them.

Blessings,

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Christian Life, Forgiveness, Suffering, Trials, Persecution

Report Inappropriate Ad