Sometimes the problem that we have when it comes to understanding why we should not sin is that we do not see how terrible sin is. I think this is a big problem in our culture. So what if we sin? Why can’t I do what I want to do? I’m not hurting anyone with what I am doing. Who cares if we sin? What the scriptures have to frequently do is show us the wages of sin. God has to show us how ugly our sins truly are. This is what 2 Samuel 13 is going to do. It is going to show you how ugly and terrible each of our sins are. David’s sins of sexual immorality and murder are going to come back upon him because that is the judgment that God has pronounced against him. These consequences are going to be observed over the next few chapters. But let’s just see the ugliness of sin and why the wages of sin is death.
Consuming, Conspiring Sin (13:1-6)
The first verse of chapter 13 opens by telling us that Absalom’s sister, Tamar, is beautiful. David’s son, Amnon, who is a half-brother to Tamar, desires her. He desires her so much that he becomes obsessed with her and frustrated to the point that he is making himself sick over her. It is evident that this is not true love because of what is said at the end of verse 2. She is a virgin, which is declaring her righteousness before God. There is not going to be any illicit sexual immorality with her. He is never going to get out of her what he wants. So he is frustrated and sick that he cannot have her. We are already being shown the ugliness of sin. He cannot get what he wants. He wants something and he is frustrated and angry that he cannot have what he wants. He is consumed by his lust. He is not going to move on. He is not going to look for another. He is not going to seek true love. He is just going to stew in his consuming lust.
If this is not bad enough, Amnon has a friend who is described as a very crafty man. This devious friend asks Amnon why he looks so bad day after day. Amnon’s answer is quite simple. He is in love with Tamar and can’t have her (13:4). His friend has a plan for him. Go home and pretend to be sick. Tell David to send Tamar to tend to you while you are sick. So this is exactly what happens. We need to stop and see how horrible this sin is to conspire to sin against someone. How horrible it is to play upon the kindness of this woman who is trying to care for you! She is trying to good to Amnon while Amnon is conspire to use her kindness to do evil against her. Amnon is consumed by lust and is conspiring to sin so that he can act upon his evil desires.
The Sweetness and Bitterness of Sin (13:7-22)
So Tamar makes Amnon a meal and brings it to him while he is laying in bed. But when she came near, he took hold of her and said, “Come, lie with me, my sister” (13:11). She immediately resists, begging him not to do this. Look at verse 14. “But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” He takes her and takes what he wants from her. This is not love. This is pure selfish lust. But notice verse 15.
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!” (2 Samuel 13:15 ESV)
The scene is even more horrifying than before. He gets what he wants and discards her like trash. His reaction is quite common with sexual immorality. Now that desire has been fulfilled, all that is left is a consuming hatred for the other person and even for yourself. This is the sweetness and bitterness of sin. The sin seems so sweet but that sweetness is immediately replaced with long lasting bitterness, anger, and pain.
He has no regard for how this will destroy Tamar. But this is the essence of sin. What makes sin so ugly is that it is so selfish. Sexual sin is especially selfish. You are getting what you want and have no regard for the pain inflicted. Amnon throwing her out of the house makes matters even worse for Tamar. Now that she is no longer a virgin and has been violated, no man is going to marry her. The Law said that Amnon must marry her as a protection for her so that she would not be destitute and without financial security. Now throwing Tamar out of the house has sealed the horror of her fate. Amnon has ruined her life, ruined her future, and ripped her purity away from her. These are the reasons why you see her putting ashes on her head, tearing her robe, and crying aloud as she went.
What is even more interesting to see is what happens in verse 20! When Absalom sees Tamar doing this, Absalom immediately asks if it was Amnon who did this. Amnon is a scoundrel and even her brother was concerned about him. But Absalom is also a scoundrel because he tells her not to say anything. The implication from the rest of the account is that Absalom desires to take personal revenge on Amnon. Do not tell the king, do not take this matter to a judge, and do not say a word. Absalom is going to do something about this himself. He is going to take matters into his own hands. David does hear about what happened. David is angry but does nothing about it. David’s sin has brought chaos into the kingdom and now he is unwilling to deal with his sons and discipline them. David has become like Eli, angry at the sin but unwilling to do anything about it.
Absalom spends the next two years plotting his revenge. Absalom asks David to have Amnon come with him to shear the sheep. This does not make sense to David but Absalom presses David to do it and he relents. Absalom tells his servants to kill Amnon when they see him drunk from feasting. This is exactly what they do. News comes back to David that Absalom killed all the king’s sons (13:30). But that his not what happened. Amnon’s friend who had given Amnon this wicked advice earlier eases David’s mind and says that this is not what happened. Amnon alone is dead because Absalom has avenged what Amnon did to Tamar. Yet it appears that David does nothing. Not only is David doing nothing about what Absalom has done, but look at how the chapter ends in verse 39. David longed to go to Absalom after he finished grieving over Amnon’s death. I think we are seeing a torn David regarding what to do with Absalom. His heart goes out for his son but his son has done wrong. What is David going to do? We are not told yet. He is angry but he does nothing. He longs for his son but he cannot bring himself to offer justice as the king of Israel for what has happened. It is a gross, horrifying chapter in the life of David and his sons.
The big message as we stated at the beginning of the lesson is that we would see the ugliness of sin. The only innocent person is Tamar. Everyone else is full of sins. Amnon is stained with the ugliness of sin. Amnon’s friend who advised him is ugly with sin. Absalom is full of sin. David’s lack of response or justice is sinful. Would you see the ugliness of sin? Would you see the wages of sin? This is what sin does. Sin just multiplies everywhere. Sin compounds sin. Sin leads to more sins, and not just in ourselves, but also in others. Amnon sins which leads to his friend sinning, which leads to Amnon sinning again, which leads to Amnon sinning yet again, which leads to David sinning, which leads to Absalom sinning, which leads to David sinning again. What a mess we have! Please notice that all of this start with the simple sin that Amnon wanted Tamar and could not move past his lust. That is how all of this started. A sin in the heart leads to sin upon sin upon sin. A sin in the heart leads to rape and murder, which you may consider, is exactly what David did in chapter 11. Would we see the ugliness of our sin and stop sin at the root before it is let out of our hearts, into our actions, and into the world?
But what has happened to David? Why does he not do something? Why does he not do something when Tamar is raped? Why does he not do something when Amnon is murdered? What has happened to our righteous king who is to rule with justice and equity? What has happened is that his own sins are interfering with his ability to rule rightly. His own sins are now impacting how he is judging the sins of others. He cannot judge rightly because he is guilty of similar thoughts and actions. Part of the ugliness of sin is that it colors us from seeing our own sins and the sins of others clearly. We cannot properly see truth because of our sins. This is what the apostle Paul said as well.
So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed. (Ephesians 4:17–19 CEB)
It is leaving the kingdom in hopelessness, the same hopelessness that we have tracked in this book. Eli’s sons were horrible and worthy of death. Samuel’s sons were a disaster and did not follow in the ways of his father. Now David’s sons are horrible. The book of 1 Samuel began with the problem at the end of the judges. There was no king in Israel. Everyone was doing right in their own eyes. We are looking for a king who will turn the hearts of the people back to God. We are looking for a ruler who will judge righteously. David has been the one that we have been waiting for. But now it does not look like we have moved forward at all. Hopelessness is surrounding our text. God is showing us the big problem for all of history. Human leaders are not the solution to our problems. Human leaders cannot be the solution to our problems. Human leaders cannot save us. Human leaders cannot have hope put on them. Humanity cannot put its hope in humanity.
We need a sinless judge who can judge rightly because he is not biased or colored by his own sins. We need someone who can see the truth clearly and judge the world rightly from this clarity. So God is showing us why he must send his Son from heaven. Humans cannot save themselves nor save others. We need a king who has not sinned and who is not of this world to administer justice for sins. This is why we must listen to Jesus and his word. We are colored, stained, and broken by our sins. We cannot see clearly. So we must at life through the lens that God has given to us through his Son. We must see that our sins are ugly. We must see that the wages of sin is death. We must see the damage our sins cause to ourselves and others. Then we must put our hope in Jesus who is the answer to the world’s problem and the savior we need for what we have done against God and against others.