Today Joab sends messengers to King David to call him out of his palace to the battlefield. After conquering Rabbah, David and all the people return to Jerusalem, where the chaos in King David’s house begins to unfold as Nathan prophesied. David’s son Amnon lusts after his half sister Tamar. So Amnon’s crafty cousin, Jonadab, comes up with an idea for Amnon. He tells Amnon to pretend he is sick and ask his dad, King David, to send Tamar to bring him some food. When Tamar is in his room, Amnon forces himself on her. Tamar says, “No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel… And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel.” Out of desperation, Tamar begs Amnon to ask their father to take her in marriage, but Amnon does not control his lust, and he rapes her.
“Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Arise, be gone!’” This is clearly not love but lust. Amnon is a man without restraint who acts on his selfish desires without regard for others. So Tamar, who came to care for Amnon, leaves abused and crying in shame, and she goes to live with her brother Absalom.
When King David hears about it, he is angry but does nothing. “So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.” Tamar’s father David could have done something. He could have told Tamar where to take her shame. David himself knew where. He even wrote in Psalm 25:1-3, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you. Don’t let me be put to shame. Don’t let my enemies win the battle over me. Those who put their hope in you will never be put to shame.” We all have shame, and we all have a place we can take our shame for healing and that is to the Lord.
Tamar’s brother Absalom allows his anger toward Amnon to fester for two years, and then he has Amnon killed. Absalom flees to Geshur and after three years, Joab “perceived that the king’s heart was concerned about Absalom.” So Joab uses the method of storytelling to bring David around to welcoming his son back into the kingdom. This is the same method the Lord used to expose David’s sin when he committed adultery and murder. Just as the Lord had Nathan go and tell David a story, Joab asks a wise woman from Tekoa to go to David pretending to be a widow with two sons who fought resulting in one son killing the other. She was to request that the life of her remaining son be spared from a blood avenger. David hears the story and agrees not to allow justice to be served against her son.
Then the woman boldly asks David why he has not reconciled with his own son. She says, “Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.” This is so true! The Lord is making a way to reconcile lost sinners to Him by sending His Son Jesus Christ to live a life we can’t live and die a death that we deserve so that we may be reconciled to the Lord. Anyone who puts their hope and trust in the saving work of Jesus will be saved. David can’t provide ultimate salvation for the widow’s son in the wise woman’s story. We need a better king than King David. We need King Jesus, the Savior, and He is coming later in this story through David’s bloodline.
So Joab’s plan works and David brings Absalom home, but he refuses to see him for two years. However, the people of Israel love Absalom for “there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him.” Once again we see the Israelites enamored by the external. So while Absalom’s bitterness toward his father grows, the people’s love for Absalom is also growing.
Sadly, the words of the Lord to David after David’s affair with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, “the sword shall never depart from your house,” (2 Samuel 12:10) are coming true. As of now David’s first son with Bathsheba is dead, David’s son Amnon is dead, David’s daughter Tamar is desolate, and David’s son Absalom was deserted. We end the reading with David reuniting with Absalom. However, Absalom is about to make a move against his dad. Keep reading. (2 Samuel 12:26-31, 1 Chronicles 20:2-3, 2 Samuel 13:1-14:33)