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II Samuel Chapter 13

Memory verses for this week: Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: Psa 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Overview of II Samuel 13: David’s bitter harvest begins to come in. Chapter 13 records the terrible incident of the rape of Tamar by her half-brother Amnon. The chapter also presents Absalom’s revenge against Amnon in murdering him. Record is then made of Absalom’s flight for what he had done.

I. Amnon's Crime

2 Sam 13:1 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.

2 Sam 13:2 And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.

2 Sam 13:3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtle man.

2 Sam 13:4 And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king's son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.

The corrupt and bitter harvest of David’s sin begins to come home to roost.

The bible is very clear about one thing: Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. The law of sowing and reaping began to come to pass, and there is nothing in this life that can change this law. If we are constantly sowing good seed, we will see a good harvest in time. However, we can reap far more bad than we ever thought when we sow evil. David was beginning to pay a bitter price for the sins he had committed with Bathsheba.

Absalom and Tamar were full siblings by David and his wife, Maacah. She is noted as a fair or a beautiful young woman. Amnon was another son of David, but a half-brother to Tamar. This young man had a lustful interest in his half sister. The phrase “thought it hard for him to do any thing to her” has the idea ‘found it hard to have any access to her.’

She was protected by her parents from characters such as her half brother. One of Amnon’s friends saw him moping about and decided to ‘help’ him. This Jonadab was in fact a cousin to Amnon. He also is noted as a “subtil man.” The thought is that he was wily or crafty. We are all known by our ways, whether our ways are good or bad.

      Prov 20:11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.


2 Sam 13:5 And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

2 Sam 13:6 So Amnon lay down, and made himself sick: and when the king was come to see him, Amnon said unto the king, I pray thee, let Tamar my sister come, and make me a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat at her hand.

Jonadab came up with an underhanded scheme whereby Amnon might get alone with Tamar. His plan was simple. Amnon was to put on himself to be sick. When his father inquired of him, he was to ask that his half sister Tamar bring him something to eat.

2 Sam 13:7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, Go now to thy brother Amnon's house, and dress him meat.

2 Sam 13:8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house; and he was laid down. And she took flour, and kneaded it, and made cakes in his sight, and did bake the cakes.

2 Sam 13:9 And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.

2 Sam 13:10 And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

2 Sam 13:11 And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto her, Come lie with me, my sister.

Not knowing that foul play was at hand, David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go now to thy brother Amnon’s house, and dress him meat.” Tamar went to Amnon’s house to prepare him some cake. He would not eat however, until he had ordered all his servants to leave.

In verse 10, Tamar was invited to bring the refreshments into Amnon’s bedroom. Once she was there, he grabbed her and asked her to be intimate with him.

2 Sam 13:12 And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.

2 Sam 13:13 And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.

2 Sam 13:14 Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her.

Tamar answered him, “Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.” Tamar plead with him not to rape her. She knew the shame she would face. She tried to tell him that he would be a fool to do so. She even plead for him to ask their father for her hand in marriage.

In Verse 14, we see the sin. In one of the darkest verses in the Bible is the record of the rape of Tamar by Amnon. The bitter harvest of David’s sin was beginning to come in.

II. Amnon Shows Hatred for Tamar

2 Sam 13:15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.

2 Sam 13:16 And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.

2 Sam 13:17 Then he called his servant that ministered unto him, and said, Put now this woman out from me, and bolt the door after her.

2 Sam 13:18 And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

After satisfying his lust, Amnon wanted nothing more to do with her. There was a mixture of shame, guilt, and anger with himself for what he had done. Note that sin has pleasure 'for a season', but then the guilt and shame come afterwards. Even though having been humiliated, the only honorable thing which Tamar could think would be that they should therefore get married.

She therefore resisted leaving. Amnon ordered his servants to throw her out and lock the door behind her. Also noted is the distinctive apparel which the virgin daughters of the king wore. His servants therefore complied and evicted her.

2 Sam 13:19 And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

2 Sam 13:20 And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.

This honorable young woman after having been violated immediately followed the middle-eastern custom of placing ashes upon herself and tearing her clothing to signify her great sorrow and humiliation. Her full brother, Absalom, very well may have been suspicious of Amnon’s intentions. Seeing his sister distraught, he said unto her, “Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. “ Perhaps to protect the greater reputation of the royal family, Absalom told his sister to keep quiet about what had happened.

He even told her to forget it. (Insight into the shallow character of Absalom is thus revealed.) Tamar became a recluse in her brother’s home. The Scripture does not indicate for how long.

III. Absalom Murders his Brother Ammon

2 Sam 13:21 But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.

2 Sam 13:22 And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

Things of this nature rarely remain hidden. Word eventually got back to David of what had happened. God's Word says “when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.” The word translated as wroth (hrx char-ah) simply means ‘angry.’ The hatred of Absalom toward Amnon for raping his sister would soon erupt. For the present, it smoldered in the heart of Absalom.

Amnon had satisfied his lust. Not only had he defiled his half sister, he soon would suffer the consequences thereof. Why David did nothing about it is not clear. If he had, the trouble he would later face may have been avoided. Be sure that ignoring sin is never the right thing to do.

IV. Absalom's Vengeance for Tamar

2 Sam 13:23 And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.

2 Sam 13:24 And Absalom came to the king, and said, Behold now, thy servant hath sheepshearers; let the king, I beseech thee, and his servants go with thy servant.

2 Sam 13:25 And the king said to Absalom, Nay, my son, let us not all now go, lest we be chargeable unto thee. And he pressed him: howbeit he would not go, but blessed him.

2 Sam 13:26 Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee?

2 Sam 13:27 But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.

Absalom’s hatred toward Amnon continued to smolder. Two years passed.

Absalom had a ‘sheep ranch’ in the countryside at Baalhazor which was about fifteen miles north of Jerusalem. Evidently, at the time of year when the sheep were sheared, a feast was held. Absalom invited all his brothers, full and otherwise, to the festivities.

In verse 24, Absalom invited the entire royal family including his father, the king.

Whether he was sincere in asking David is not clear. It may be that he knew David would not accept but offered him the opportunity nevertheless lest there be any suspicion of his motives. David declined Absalom’s invitation claiming that he did not want to be a financial burden to his son. Absalom insisted but David declined the offer. David blessed Absalom in his deed. It seems that David was suspicious about Amnon going along. He no doubt was well aware of Absalom’s hatred of him. Absalom remained insistent so that David would allow Amnon and the rest of his brothers go to his party. It well may be that Absalom’s plan was to bring the rest of his brothers along to deflect attention from his real motives.

2 Sam 13:28 Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.

2 Sam 13:29 And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

Absalom’s plot is revealed. Absalom’s scheme was simple. At his celebration, he would make sure that Amnon became intoxicated. Then, when he was thus incapacitated, he instructed his servants to kill him. He further gave them immunity in that he would accept all responsibility for the deed. Therefore,.

The second installment of David’s corrupt harvest had come in. As Nathan the prophet had foretold David in II Samuel 12:10, the sword would not depart from David’s family. It did not. David was in the process of being repaid fourfold for his great sin against Uriah. See II Samuel 12;6 and Exodus 22:1.

      2 Sam 12:5 And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die:

      2 Sam 12:6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.

      2 Sam 12:7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;

      Exo 22:1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption. Meanwhile, the rest of David’s sons made haste out of there.

V. Absalom Flees to Geshur

2 Sam 13:30 And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left.

2 Sam 13:31 Then the king arose, and tare his garments, and lay on the earth; and all his servants stood by with their clothes rent.

2 Sam 13:32 And Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother, answered and said, Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king's sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.

2 Sam 13:33 Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king's sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.

2 Sam 13:34 But Absalom fled. And the young man that kept the watch lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came much people by the way of the hill side behind him.

2 Sam 13:35 And Jonadab said unto the king, Behold, the king's sons come: as thy servant said, so it is.

2 Sam 13:36 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of speaking, that, behold, the king's sons came, and lifted up their voice and wept: and the king also and all his servants wept very sore.

Word spread fast although distorted. Apparently someone at the feast had observed Amnon being slain and left immediately thinking that all of David’s sons would suffer the same. He rushed back to Jerusalem and informed David of what he thought had happened. David, understandably went into immediate grieving in the manner characteristic of the ancient east.

In verse 32, Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother, answered and said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have slain all the young men the king’s sons; for Amnon only is dead: for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar.” Recall that it was Jonadab who had counseled Amnon in how to entice Tamar in the first place. He had his story right, but he also had the gall to so inform David when such culpability hung upon his head for all that had happened.

Jonadab was right in his assessment that Absalom murdered Amnon for incestuously raping his half sister. Jonadab therefore glibly assured David, “Now therefore let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead: for Amnon only is dead.”

It no doubt was consolation to David. But it must have been small consolation. One of his sons was dead, murdered at the hand of his brother. In verse 34 is the record that Absalom fled and became a fugitive. The guard on duty soon saw a crowd of people rushing toward Jerusalem from the north. He announced the rest of David’s son were arriving. When they reached David, they all broke down and bitterly wept.

VI. Absalom Flees to Talmai

2 Sam 13:37 But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.

2 Sam 13:38 So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years.

2 Sam 13:39 And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.

Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. David had married Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur. Thus, he fled to the home of his grandparents on his mother’s side. There is some question as to where Geshur was.

      1 Sam 27:8 And David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites: for those nations were of old the inhabitants of the land, as thou goest to Shur, even unto the land of Egypt.

David claimed to have raided Geshur, but the context there indicated it was to the south between Philistia and Egypt. However, there also was a region along the southeast shore of the Sea of Galilee called Geshur as well. It would seem that this is more likely in that Absalom in fleeing there would evade his father’s wrath more easily than by journeying southward around Jerusalem across the length of the kingdom toward Egypt. In any event, he fled to relatives for refuge.

He was there three years. In the meantime, David mourned daily. Some have thought his mourning was for Amnon. While others have thought it was for Absalom. The following verse does seem to indicate that his mourning was for Absalom. It is clear that David suffered great sorrow from the deeds of his sons.

His corrupt harvest from his own sin was still coming. David had come to terms with the death of Amnon. But now he longed to see his fugitive son Absalom. The mixed emotions of David are evident. He was deeply hurt by what both Amnon and Absalom had done. But, his love for his son now overrode whatever urge of retribution he might have had.  

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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

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