Summary: The account of Absalom murdering Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:23-39 shows us how vengeance was carried out for sin.
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick tells a story of obsession and vengeance. Captain Ahab, a whaler, loses a leg to a white whale. A smoldering anger begins to grow in the now one-legged captain. Melville writes:
I know that he was never very jolly; and I know that on the passage home, he was a little out of his mind for a spell…. I know, too, that ever since he lost his leg last voyage by that accursed whale, he’s been a kind of moody—desperate moody, and savage sometimes.
Captain Ahab’s anger grows into a fixation on revenge against the sea monster. As his hatred grows, so does his lack of wisdom. On his next whale-hunting trip, the driving force in his soul begins to override good judgment, putting himself, his crew, and his ship into insanely hazardous situations. Common sense is overruled by his wild passion for killing the white whale. All else is secondary. As the captain hurls man and ship into the perilous seas of hate, his opportunity to take vengeance finally arrives. The white whale is within Ahab’s grasp. A chase ensues for three days. The crewmembers realize that Ahab’s folly may mean doom—not for the whale, but for themselves.
A man named Starbuck, Ahab’s first mate and the only one who dares to question the captain, cries out, “Oh! Ahab, not too late is it, even now, the third day, to desist. See! Moby Dick seeks you not. It is you, you, that madly seek him!”
But it is too late. Ahab’s quest for vengeance grows deeper, ignoring every danger. In the end, the ship is lost; the crew, save one, is lost; and Ahab loses both his quest and his life.
The white whale has won.
Hatred, revenge, and vengeance are incredibly destructive attitudes. This is glaringly illustrated in today’s lesson in which Absalom murdered his half-brother Amnon. Last time we learned that Amnon raped Tamar, Absalom’s sister. Absalom took Tamar into his own home, and seethed with hatred against Amnon. For two years his hatred smoldered into vengeance against Amnon.
Let’s read about Absalom murdering Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:23-39:
23 After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 And Absalom came to the king and said, “Behold, your servant has sheepshearers. Please let the king and his servants go with your servant.” 25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. 28 Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.
30 While they were on the way, news came to David, “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left.” 31 Then the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the earth. And all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. 32 But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king’s sons are dead, for Amnon alone is dead.”
34 But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. 35 And Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king’s sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” 36 And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king’s sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly.
37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead. (2 Samuel 13:23-39)