2 Samuel 13



Amnon and Tamar (13:1–22)

1–2 Amnon was David’s eldest son (2 Samuel 3:2), and Tamar was Amnon’s half-sister. She was the full sister of Absalom, David’s third son53 (1 Samuel 3:3). Amnon fell in love with Tamar. However, because Tamar was the virgin daughter of King David and also because it was forbidden by law to have sexual relations with one’s half-sister (Leviticus 18:11; 20:17), Amnon saw no hope of satisfying his longing for Tamar.

3–11 However, Amnon’s cousin Jonadab devised a plot whereby Amnon would be able to satisfy his lust for Tamar. Amnon was to pretend he was sick and then ask his father David to send Tamar to his room. The plot worked, and Amnon was able to grab hold of Tamar; he then asked her to come to bed with him (verse 11).

12–14 Tamar tried her best to dissuade Amnon. She said, “Don’t force me . . . Don’t do this wicked thing” (verse 12). If he did it, she would face lifelong disgrace (verse 13): she could never marry, never have legitimate children; she would be left desolate (verse 20).

Tamar then asked Amnon, “And what about you? You are destroying your chance to inherit your father’s throne.” Tamar, in desperation, even suggested that King David might allow her to marry Amnon—even though it was against God’s law. But nothing she said deterred Amnon, and in the end he raped her (verse 14).

15–19 As soon as Amnon had satisfied his lust, his feeling for Tamar changed; he hated her (verse 15). He had treated this beautiful woman as an object, not as a person; and now that he had defiled and disgraced her, he had no more use for her. “Get up and get out!” he told her.

For Amnon to send Tamar away was an even greater wrong than raping her; at least he could have kept her as his wife. Then her disgrace would have been much less, and the possibility of having children would still have been open to her. But this way, being no longer a virgin, she could never hope to marry anyone else.

But Amnon’s servant put her out (verse 18). Then Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the robe she was wearing-both signs of deep mourning. The tearing of her robe also symbolized the tearing away of her virginity.

20–22 Tamar went to her brother Absalom’s house in the palace compound. When he learned that Amnon had been with her (verse 20)—had violated her—Absalom told her, “Be quiet now.” He meant: “Be quiet for the time being.” Clearly Absalom was plotting revenge. In particular, if he could kill Amnon, he would then be in line to inherit his father’s throne.

Meanwhile, when David heard of Amnon’s evil act, he was furious (verse 21). But he did nothing about it. David neglected his responsibility as both father and king. His own sexual sin with Bathsheba made it difficult for him to discipline his son for the same kind of sin. Whenever we ourselves sin, we lose some of our moral and spiritual authority, and hence become less effective in God’s service.

Absalom Kills Amnon (13:23–39)

23–27 Two years passed before Absalom was able to take revenge on Amnon. Absalom invited all of David’s sons to join him during the time of sheeps hearing, a festive occasion in ancient Israel. He made sure Amnon was among those who came.

28–29 During the festivities, when Amnon had become intoxicated with wine, Absalom ordered his men to kill him, which they did. David’s other sons, fearing they might be next, immediately got up and fled (verse 29).

Thus, like his brother Amnon before him, Absalom followed in the sinful footsteps of his father. David’s sins of adultery and murder were now being reflected in the lives of his two sons: in the one case, sexual sin; in the other, murder. Let parents take heed: their influence in the lives of their children is enormous—whether for good or for evil.

30–36 Initially David received a report that Absalom had killed all of his sons-possibly including Solomon. But the report proved false, sparing him unbearable grief. But the king still wept very bitterly (verse 36). The murder of Amnon and the flight of Absalom were only the beginnings of the calamity that would be brought upon David “out of his own household” (2 Sam uel 12:11).

37–39 Absalom, fearing his father’s wrath, fled to his mother’s family in Geshur, where his grandfather was king (2 Samuel 3:3).

The writer then adds: But King David mourned for his son every day (verse 37). Which son? Probably Amnon, whom David had just lost. But it is also possible that David cared more for Absalom, who was also lost” in exile in Geshur. Absalom remained in exile for three years, and David increasingly longed to go to him (verse 39).