In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.
3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”
Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
We began this year’s devotions with a “Who’s who in the Bible.” Through the season of Lent we read through Matthew’s gospel, but now we go back to the Old Testament and the book of 2 Samuel. When I read this chapter, I was appalled. How can I write anything good about this episode? What is God saying to us here?
A little background. David the king had a number of wives, of which Ammon was the son of one of his wives, and Absalom and Tamar were children from another wife. Solomon, by the way, was his son with Bathsheba. It was bad enough that Ammon was attracted to his step-sister. It was worse that his cousin, Jonadab, supposedly an advisor, gave him some really bad advice about how to get Tamar alone. The plot was hatched with the result that Ammon raped Tamar. Two years later, Absalom found a way to retaliate for the wrong done to his sister Tamar, and he had Ammon killed.
The Bible lays it out. Sin is sin. These are not all good people recorded here, no more than we are all good people. We may differ in degree from the sins of Ammon and Absalom, but in God’s eyes, not one of us is better or deserving of God’s forgiveness. I have to ask myself again why God would send Jesus? Why would God allow Jesus’ blood to be shed for our sake, to take the punishment we deserve? What kind of love does God have? But then comes the quiet answer – only the best. May we give God all the glory, for his grace given in Jesus Christ.
God of all love and mercy, we have no right to stand before your throne of grace. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, even the intentions of our hearts. We are lost without your love, and wholly deserving of judgment. We praise you for Jesus Christ our savior, for he took our sins to the cross and died for us. May we endeavor each day to give you the glory and live for you. Amen.