WHEN FAMILY BONDS SHATTER
2 Samuel 13:1-20:26 November 23 2008
In the aftermath of David’s adulterous affair, his family
life imploded around him. The initial fracture occurred in
relation to his daughter Tamar. Amnon, David’s oldest son,
lusted after his half-sister. He conspired with a friend to
deceive her into coming to his house. When she refused his
sexual advances, Amnon raped Tamar. Afterwards he
abandoned her completely.
In her grief and humiliation Tamar found refuge in the
house of her brother, Absalom. Two years later, Absalom
plotted and killed Amnon in revenge for his sister’s
disgrace. Since Amnon had been the heir to David’s throne,
Absalom was forced into exile. After three years, David
allowed Absalom to return home but refused to meet with
his son for another two years. Superficial gestures of
reconciliation were exchanged, but the sincerity of these
efforts is dubious.
After this apparent reconciliation with his father,
Absalom gained widespread popular support among the
people by insinuating that justice was impossible under
his father. Using his popularity, Absalom launched a revolt
Initially the revolution was successful. Rebel forces
captured Jerusalem. David was forced to flee into the
wilderness while Absalom established his capital in
Jerusalem. Eventually sufficient forces rallied to David
and reversed the situation. Despite Absalom’s rebellion,
David loved his son and became despondent over Absalom’s
death in the revolt.
The king’s depression exposed divisions within his
supporters. Eventually another civil war erupted between
Judah and the other tribes. Troops loyal to David were
victorious and David’s throne was once more secure .
1.Confront Wrongdoing (2 Sam. 13:19-22)
2Sam. 13:19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the
ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her
head and went away, weeping aloud as she went. 13:20
Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your
brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is
your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar
lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.
13:21 When King David heard all this, he was furious.
13:22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good
or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his
Put ashes on her head . A sign of great mourning.
Tore the ornamented robe . Thus expressing her anguish
and announcing that her virginity had been violated. Put
her hand on her head . Also a sign of grief ( Jer 2:37). Be
quiet now , my sister . . . don’t take this to heart . Absalom
urges his sister not to make the matter a public scandal,
and attempts to quiet her by minimizing its significance.
Meanwhile, he formulates his own secret plans for revenge
(2 Sam. 13: 22,28,32). He was furious . Although David was
incensed by Amnon’s rape of Tamar, there is no record that
he took any punitive action against him. Perhaps the
memory of his own sin with Bathsheba adversely affected
his judicious handling of the matter. Whatever the reason,
David abdicated his responsibility both as king and as
father. This disciplinary leniency toward his sons (2 Sam.
14:33; 1Kings 1:6) eventually led to the death of Amnon and
the revolts of Absalom and Adonijah. Absalom never said a
word to Amnon. . . he hated Amnon . He quietly bided his
2. Resist Vengefulness (2 Sam. 28a,37-39)
2Sam. 13:28a Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When
Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say
to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. 13:37
Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the
king of Geshur. But King David mourned for his son every
day. 13:38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he
stayed there three years. 13:39 And the spirit of the
king longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled
concerning Amnon’s death.
Kill him . Absalom arranged for the murder of his
half brother in violation of Eastern hospitality. In the
wicked acts of Amnon and Absalom, David’s oldest
sons became guilty of sexual immorality and murder,
as their father had before them. With the murder of
Amnon, Absalom not only avenged the rape of his sister
but also secured for himself the position of successor
to the throne (2 Sam. 3:3; 15:1-6). Kileab, David’s
second son (2 Sam. 3:3), may have died in his youth
since there is no reference to him beyond the
announcement of his birth. Talmai son of Ammihud ,
the king of geshur. Absalom’s grandfather (2 Sam. 3:3).
Longed to go to Absalom . With Absalom a refugee,
David had lost both of his oldest living sons.
3. Foster Reconciliation (2 Sam.14:23-24)
2Sam. 14:23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought
Absalom back to Jerusalem. 14:24 But the king said,
“He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.”
So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the
face of the king
Joab went to Geshur (2 Sam. 13:37). He must not
see my face . David still vacillates (2 Sam.14:1); he
does not offer forgiveness and restoration.
4. Refrain from Selfish Schemes (2 Sam. 15:1-6)
2Sam. 15:1 In the course of time, Absalom provided
himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men
to run ahead of him. 15:2 He would get up early and
stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate.
Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed
before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out
to him, “What town are you from?” He would answer,
“Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.” 15:3
Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your claims are
valid and proper, but there is no representative of the
king to hear you.” 15:4 And Absalom would add, “If
only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone
who has a complaint or case could come to me and I
would see that he gets justice.” 15:5 Also, whenever
anyone approached him to bow down before him,
Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him
and kiss him. 15:6 Absalom behaved in this way
toward all the Israelites who came to the king asking
for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of
Chariot and horese . As far as is known, Absalom
was the first Israelite leader to acquire a chariot
and horses (Dt 17:16). Fifty men . They probably
functioned as bodyguards and provided a display of
royal pomp that appealed to the masses. Adonijah later
followed Absalom’s example (1Kings 1:5). Your claims
are valid . Absalom seeks to ingratiate himself with
the people by endorsing their grievances apart from
any investigation into their legitimacy. If only I were
appointed judge in the land ! Absalom presents himself
as the solution to the people’s legal grievances. In the
case of Amnon, he had taken matters into his own
hands because of his father’s laxity. He has found, he
believes, the weakness in his father’s reign, and he
capitalizes on it with political astuteness.
Towns in the ancient era often were
enclosed by massive stone walls. Some of these
defensive fortifications could be as much as 25 feet
thick and 40-45 feet tall. Since Jerusalem was David’s
capital, it boasted some of the most massive defenses
in the kingdom.
Gates provided the only means into or out
of the city. A city gate was a complex structure with
lookout towers on the outside and rooms on each side.
Massive wooden doors secured the gate at night or
In most cases the town market was located
in a courtyard just inside the city gate. This became
the i natural gathering place for the community. From
the earliest period of Israel’s history, the tribal and
clan elders gathered at the gate to conduct business.
Exactly where did the elders gather? Some
have suggested it was just inside the gate, in the
courtyard where the market was located. Others suggest
the leaders met in the shaded space inside the gate. By
the time of David the city gate long had been established
as the place for local judicial matters.