The Fornication of Amnon with Tamar

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Now 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, “Pray let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.” Then 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 every one from me.” So every one 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 force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this wanton folly. As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the wanton fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray you, speak to the king; for he will not withold me from you.” But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced 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, “Arise, be gone.” But she said to him, “No, my brother; for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other which 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 clad of old. So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent the long robe which she wore; and she laid her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went. And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar dwelt, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar. After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baalhazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons. And Absalom came to the king, and said, “Behold, your servant has sheepshearers; pray let the king and his servants go with your servant.” 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. Then Absalom said, “If not, pray let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. 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. Fear not; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” 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” (2 Samuel 13:1-29).

Amnon did not love Tamar. He was only infatuated with her. Because of his infatuation, he was tormented by his desire for her. Love is a power that builds. Infatuation and lust are destructive forces. Love does not make a man restless. Infatuation does. Love thinks of the welfare of the beloved. Infatuation thinks only of the interest of the infatuated. Love thinks of the long term consequences of things. Infatuation is caught up with the here and the now.

In the beginning, Amnon wanted the presence of only one person – Tamar. Afterwards, the one person he did not want to see was Tamar. Infatuation leads a man to say, “Come,” and soon afterwards, “Arise, be gone.” When a man merely uses a woman to satisfy his passion, the flame of passion that he had for her before the act is now as great as the flame of dislike that wells up in him after she has been used. In the hearts of most men, a woman who has been used is hated, despised and unwanted!

Amnon did everything to have her, including faking illness. Afterwards, he did everything to get rid of her, including having his servant force her out and bolt the door after her. Infatuation does not last. It is a flame that rises and may destroy two lives or more.

The beauty of Tamar that might have led to the infatuation of Amnon at the beginning remained after he had abused her, but her power to attract him was gone. Mere beauty of face and form has no power to keep a man from running away from a woman once he has used her.

Tamar laboured to bring Amnon to reason. She offered to be his wife if only he would have things done properly. She encouraged him along the pathway of honour, saying to him, “Speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you,” but he would not listen. She told him of the harm that the act would cause her, saying, “Do not do such wanton folly. As for me, where could I carry my shame?” She warned him of what would become of him, saying, “And as for you, you would be as one of the wanton fools in Israel.” He was warned but he would not hearken. He refused to think about his future. He refused also to think of hers. He was carried away by a flame, a fire that would destroy him and, to some extent, ruin her. When a man commits fornication or adultery, he has decided to ruin his future happiness on earth and the future happiness of the one he has decided to commit fornication with, the eternal happiness of the partner in fornication and his own eternal happiness. In a few minutes of yielding to folly, a man could bury his happiness in time and in eternity. He could bury, not only his happiness, but also that of the person whom he has decided to take with him along the path of ruin. Have you ever thought about the fact that a few minutes of forbidden pleasure could bring your earthly and eternal lives to ruin? Have you ever thought about the fact that you could be killed for your adultery or fornication by God or by man and that that would be followed by your being cast into the lake of fire on that day? Will you think and desist from folly?

Amnon refused to reason. He sacrificed everything for one brief moment of pleasure. Even the pleasure he wanted was denied him, for there can be no pleasure in rape!

As Tamar put ashes on her head, rent her white robe, laid her hand on her head, and went away crying aloud as she moved away from Amnon’s house, Amnon did not rise in esteem before the people. From that moment he became, before God, as one of the wanton fools of Israel and so did he also appear before the king, his sons, his daughters, his servants and all the people of Israel. Before Tamar went to visit him, he was a man of honour. He was the king’s first son with the possibilities of one day becoming king in his father’s stead. Soon after Tamar left, he became the very embodiment of folly. He had lost so much and gained so little. The pleasure and fulfilment that adultery or fornication promises are mirages. They are non-existent. Do not be deceived. You will never be the same after you have committed adultery or fornication. The marks of ruin will settle upon you and they could settle permanently. If you live near a woman whose looks excite and tempt you, run away. Leave that part of the town and, if need be, run away to the next town. Do not stay around and hope to resist. Wisdom lies in running away.

Amnon had two years to live after his dreadful sin. They were years lived in shame, disgrace and fear. He had lost favour with Tamar. He had also lost favour with Absalom and with everyone else. He remained the king’s son, but he was a prince without glory! How he must have regretted that dreadful day! How he must have forgotten any pleasure he had! How he must have relived the glory that was his before he was overtaken by folly! He regretted it but it was there!

Then the day came! He was invited by Absalom to his sheepshearing at Baalhazor. Actually all was arranged because of him. He went along with the other sons of the king. They were together in one place. Life seemed to be before them. He was like the rest but he was apart. He had forfeited his life. He had denied himself the privilege of living the day he forced Tamar into fornication. That day, he wrote off his life and became a kind of moving corpse. He was given to wine and on that day he had much of it. He was a dying man to whom much wine had been given, for he was in the stupor of it when he heard the command, “Strike Amnon.” He did not have much time to think. It was soon the end. He had chosen the pathway of fornication; he had chosen the pathway of death and now he was dead.

Amnon ought to have read and taken warning from the Scriptures which say, “ ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’ But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol” (Proverbs 9:17-18).

Each person must stop and ask, “Has my life been a blessing to those around me? Are they holier, closer to God and more fulfilled because their pathways in life crossed mine? Amnon’s life was not only wasted. It ruined other lives.

First of all, his life ruined that of Tamar. She dwelt, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. Amnon was the cause of the ruin of her life. Secondly, he made the king angry. Sons who make their fathers angry are not a blessing. Thirdly, Amnon caused his brother to become a murderer and a fugitive. After murdering Amnon, the Bible says, “But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. So Absalom fled, and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go forth to Absalom; for he was comforted about Amnon, seeing he was dead” (2 Samuel 13:37-39).

Whom has your adultery ruined? Whose heart has your fornication wounded? Is it some girl, some mother, some father, some child who resulted from your irresponsible passion? Are you the cause of the ruin of someone who could have gone ahead and done great things for God? Are you the small rock on which a great spiritual career has wrecked? You may not yet be, but have you taken steps to ensure that it never happens? Are you at the very moment involved in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, a relationship that looks innocent and yet you have begun to see the marks and warnings that disaster lies in the distant horizon? Will you take the warning and stop the relationship at once? Will you be prudent and run away? The relationship may appear to be of benefit to the gospel, even though it carries with it risks of adultery or fornication. Won’t you sacrifice all that it pretends to offer and save your soul? Please forget the possible gains and run away. It is better to be holy than to make some contribution to the Kingdom of God in a sinful condition. All contributions that stem out of relationships of fornication or adultery, will be shown in the end to have served the devil, while adding nothing to the Kingdom of God!

It is common knowledge that friendship is determinant upon a man. This is most clearly illustrated in the life of Amnon. The Bible says, “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother; and Jonadab was a very crafty man” (2 Samuel 13:3). It was Jonadab who worked out the scheme that led to the abuse of Tamar and to the undoing of Amnon. Jonadab was crafty. He thought only of the immediate pleasure that his friend could have. He thought that the end justified the means.

Amnon would not have committed such folly had he had a man of integrity for a friend - a man who would have warned him against folly, a man who would have encouraged him to ask the king for Tamar in marriage. Unfortunately, his friend Jonadab was at the same level of inward sexual degradation and, so, with his help, he went on to utter ruin.

Have you found out what your spiritual environment is like to the key issues like money, sex, power, food, time, and so on? Listen, if your closest associates love money, that is what you love or will love. If they are freed from the love of money, you too will be free or are already free.

In the matter under study, have you asked yourself what the attitude of your closest friends and associates to sexual purity is? If you have never asked yourself that question, stop now and ask it. If there are tendencies towards impurity in dress, words, actions and the like, call off the friendship and save yourself. On the other hand you may think that the friendship is rooted in much righteousness so that this distortion can be corrected. Talk to the person(s) involved and work out a strategy for purity. If you just keep silent and hope that things will change, you will end up in ruin. Be wise and act now! God bless you!

Tamar was deeply wronged in this sin. She suffered terribly. What could she have done to avoid the problem? In a sense there is little she could have done. She was a dutiful daughter who obeyed her father. She was a loving sister who gave herself to taking care of an apparently sick brother.

I can only wish that she had been wiser. I can only wish that she had studied her brothers more and noted that a man who had Jonadab for a bosom friend was most likely to end up being crafty and false. I can only wish that she had been observant enough to notice that Amnon had lust-laden admiration for her. I can only wish she had been wise enough to know that even some of one’s own blood brothers are not to be trusted in sexual matters and, as such, never to have gone to cook for Amnon alone. How I wish she had demanded to be accompanied by another princess, perhaps a younger sister! I can only wish that she had been less trusting, so that when Amnon refused to eat the food that she had prepared, that she would have suspected evil and been on the alert. Oh, that she had been wise enough to have sensed danger when Amnon asked that everyone else be sent away from his house except her, and also to have insisted on going away! Oh, that she had been prudent enough to understand that food that needed to be eaten only from her hand in the chamber was not ordinary food! How I wish she had been more prudent! How I wish she had fought the beast of Amnon to the end even to the spilling of her blood!

The world is filled with evil people. They may be fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, relatives of all kinds, religious women and all the like. Be warned. Do not move around and respond as if there was no fall. We are living in a fallen world, and prudence is demanded of all who do not want to be trapped. The fact that you fear God and walk in integrity does not mean that everyone else does that. Do not believe everyone who says he is a child of God. He may not be or he may be one who has problems in the area of sex. So be warned. Do not become another Tamar! There is a simplicity of mind that is not to be encouraged. Of that simplicity the Bible says, “Leave simpleness, and live and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:6). “The simple believes everything, but the prudent looks where he is going” (Proverbs 14:15). “A prudent man sees danger and hides himself; but the simple go on and suffer for it” (Proverbs 27:12). The Apostle Paul exhorts, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15) and “Test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

There is no separation of David’s adultery with Bathsheba from the flames of sexual immorality that now burned in his house. He was the head of the family and when he went into Uriah’s wife, he, as the head, carried the family with him into it! He repented and was forgiven, but his household did not know his God. They followed him into his sin and perished! One of the greatest things that a man can do for his children is to live a pure life before the Lord in thought, word and deed. This yields dividends. May God work this out in the thoughts, words and deeds of every father who has come under the cover of the blood of the new covenant!

(From the book Freedom from the Sin of Fornication and Adultery Chp one pg 14)

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