Have you ever been hurt by someone close to you? Did you assume you could trust them because they were family or a friend and then discover otherwise? Why does God allow innocent victims to be taken advantage of by people they trusted?
In today’s episode of All God’s Women we look at Tamar, daughter of a king, yet an innocent victim of a horrific crime.
I tried to avoid including Tamar. I was just going to skip over her and hope no one noticed. But God didn’t let me off so easily. When I went to share about the woman of Tekoa, I realized that her story didn’t make as much sense without first covering Tamar.
But hers is not an easy story to tell. It’s not pretty. It’s definitely not a feel-good. But God included it in the Bible, and so there is a lesson for us to learn here.
We meet Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. We’re told that Absalom the son of David had a beautiful sister named Tamar, and Amnon, another son of David, loved her.
It goes on to say that Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he made himself sick because she was off limits to him. But Amnon had a friend who was very cunning and shrewd. When his friend found out why Amnon was upset, he devised a plan for him to get what he wanted.
The friend told him to lie in bed and pretend to be so sick that his father would come to check on him. And he was to ask his father to send in Tamar to prepare food for him and feed him.
Amnon did as he suggested and David sent Tamar to take care of him. She prepared the cakes for him as he had requested and served them to him, but he refused to eat. He ordered everyone else to leave the house and ask her to serve him in bed.
Once they were alone, he grabbed her and ordered her to lie with him. Horrified, she resisted, reminding him that such a thing should not be done in Israel and that such a thing would be disgraceful. She warned him that if he did that he would be like one of the fools of Israel. She even told him to go to David and ask to marry her and David would surely agree.
But her words meant nothing to him. He was too caught up by this point. He overcame her and had his way with her. And then it says once that was done that he hated her with more intensity than he had loved her.
He ordered her to leave.
She begged him to reconsider, telling him that sending her away would be even worse than what he’d already done. But he didn’t listen. He called his servant to kick her out of the house and bolt the door behind her.
The Bible goes on to tell us that she wore a robe of many colors, the royal garment that the king’s virgin daughters wore, and the servant sent her away and bolted the door behind her.
She put ashes on her head and tore up that beautiful robe and wept bitterly.
When Absolom, her brother heard what happened, he told her to keep quiet and not take it to heart since Amnon was her brother. But inwardly, he seethed. He hated Amnon and refused to speak to him because of what he’d done.
When David heard what happened, he was angry, but did nothing.
And poor Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absolom’s house.
While we might debate whether Bathsheba was victim or willing participant, in the case of Tamar, it is crystal clear. She was minding her own business, completely unaware of the feelings Amnon had for her. When her father asked her to help take care of him, she honored his wishes. She gently served Amnon, hoping to help him get better. When he came after her, she resisted, doing everything in her power to wake him up to what he was about to do. And when it was over, she abided by Absolom’s request and remained silent.
What more could she have done?
Why did God allow Tamar to be a victim in this case? Why did all the men in her life let her down? Why did she have to spend the rest of her days desolate in her brother’s house?
In one fatal moment, all of Tamar’s dreams and hopes for the future were abolished. She went from being a beautiful and sweet princess, blessed with anything her heart desired, and then, through no fault of her own, all that was swept away from her.
She could no longer wear the royal coat of many colors because she was no longer a virgin.
Although she retained the status of princess, her marriage prospects were gone. Who would want her once they found out about her past?
As the daughter of the king, she lived in a glass castle. Everyone knew what happened to her. The shame would always be there. Wherever she went people would know.
So she hid away and spent the rest of her days desolate in her brother’s house.
But what if? What if, instead of forever mourning her innocence and the life that was stripped away from her, what if she had mourned for a period and then moved on? It wouldn’t have been easy, but what if she’d turned to God, poured out her heart to Him and accepted His cleansing love. All her problems wouldn’t have suddenly disappeared, but she could have still lived a rich and full life.
If God can forgive murderers and adulterers and vile sinners and give them a second chance, then surely He can offer a new life to innocent victims who were unfairly taken advantage of despite their best efforts.
Perhaps you’re listening today and you’ve been victim, maybe even in a situation surprisingly similar to Tamar’s. It could be out in the open where everyone knows about it, or it could be something so private that even your best friend doesn’t have a clue. But you’re holding it to your heart, and in the quiet moments you pull it out and you tell yourself that you’re unworthy of love, that you’ve been stripped away of everything that was dear to you and now you’re forever unclean.
That’s a lie! John 10:10 tells us the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly.
Abundant life is waiting for us. All we have to do is accept it. No shame. No embarrassment. He knows what you’ve gone through. He knows what you’re feeling. His heart hurts with you. And He’s standing there, with open arms, waiting for you to step into the abundant new life that He has to offer you.
Or maybe you weren’t the innocent victim. Maybe you didn’t resist when you should have. Maybe you listened to those around you and forsook what you knew was right. And the enemy is telling you that now that you’ve done that, you’re forever unclean.
Romans 3:23 tells us we’ve all sinned, every last one of us. God’s mightiest men and women have sinned and fallen short of God’s best for them. We are human. We’re going to fail.
But Romans 3:34 assures us that we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Jesus paid the price for all sins, whether our sins or someone else’s sins. Once we accept his gracious gift of new life, though, we’re no longer victim to those sins.
Will you today, accept God’s gift of redemption and new life?
Lord God, thank you for your gift of redemption. Thank you for loving us and erasing our past whatever we might have dealt with. Lord, for those who are caught up in situations, whether as innocent victims or active participants, please divulge to them a way out, a new beginning, a second chance. Lord, open our eyes to those around us so that we might be more sensitive to those who are caught in a lifestyle that they want to be free from. Give us wisdom and insight when dealing with others. Reveal to us the words to say and the actions to take.
Before I close on today’s lesson, I would like to bring up one last verse, 2 Samuel 14:27 where we’re told that Absolom had three sons and one daughter, and the daughter’s name was Tamar, and she was described as a woman of fair countenance.
Tamar spent her days a part of Absolom’s family, and when they had a baby girl, they named her after her aunt. Absolom and his wife showed respect and honor to Tamar by passing on her name to their child. It’s not much, but how nice that God saw fit to close Tamar’s story with that little footnote to show that she made an impact on their lives.
What about you? Though your world of influence may be smaller than you imagined, are you still impacting those around you in a positive way?
That concludes this week’s episode of All God’s Women. Tune in next week when we look at the wise woman of Tekoah who used her acting skills to reunite a father and son.
Have you missed any episodes of All God’s Women? If so, why don’t you take some time today to go through and listen to a couple you may have missed. Then share with a friend an episode you think might speak specifically to them.
2 Samuel 13
Bible Study Review
- What does the Bible tell us about Tamar?
- How did Amnon get Tamar alone?
- How did David handle the situation?
Thoughts to Ponder
- Could Tamar have done anything to prevent what happened?
- Why did Amnon’s feelings change for Tamar?
- Why might David have been hesitant to take action?
- How do you handle when someone your trust betrays you?
- Is it possible to be too trusting?
- Do you blame yourself for others’ sins?
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