Summary: A young man confusing lust for love unleashes havoc on the Kingdom of David. His actions serve to caution us not to confuse lust for love.
*When Love Turns to Lust*
“Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, ‘O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?’ Amnon said to him, ‘I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.’ Jonadab said to him, ‘Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, “Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.”’ So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. And when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.’
“David sent home to Tamar, saying, ‘Go to your brother Amnon’s house and prepare food for him.’ So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes. And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, ‘Send out everyone from me.’ So everyone went out from him. Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, ‘Come, lie with me, my sister.’ She answered him, ‘No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.’ But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.
“Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, 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, ‘Get up! Go!’ But she said to him, ‘No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.’ But he would not listen to her. He called the young man who served him and said, ‘Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.’ Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.”
It is sometimes said that women exchange sex for love, and men exchange love for sex. Obviously, women are not men; and men are not women; thankfully, the sexes differ. Undoubtedly, men must be taught to love selflessly, to give of themselves without expecting anything in return, and women must be taught to be chaste, exhibiting a submissive demeanour. The Bible presents just such instruction in multiple instances.
Should we be surprised that when boys are not trained to treat women with respect and consideration, they grow up to be brutes? Is it actually a surprise to learn that when girls are not taught to respect men, especially their husbands, they become catty tyrants? Tragically, we have entered a day in which courtesies once taken for granted are no longer generally present in society, and children are not trained to think of others first. Whiny pleas for children to “be nice” delivered by social engineers who parade as educators and by parents who fail in their divinely assigned responsibility to train up their children in the way they should go, fail to instil moral standards that honour God. We have developed an education system that is focused on teaching children to expect their rights, without teaching them to accept their responsibilities. A general assumption that appears to guide modern education is that people will be ruled by their lusts, and children cannot therefore be expected to control their dark desires.