Today’s Reading: 2 Samuel 13-14
Today’s Reflection: 2 Samuel 13:15
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!”
With all of the beauty and poetry in the Bible, there are also many horrific stories in it. This is one of them. David’s son Amnon was in love with his half sister Tamar. His desire for her was so great he was making himself sick because of it. His friend Jonadab, described as a “very crafty man” (2 Samuel 13:3), heard of Amnon’s predicament and gave him a plan to be alone with Tamar (2 Samuel 13:5). Amnon carried out this plan. When he had Tamar alone he tried to convince her to sleep with him. She said no to his advances and tried to appeal to his sense of honour—what he was suggesting was a grevious sin. If Amnon truly desired her, he could speak to the King who would gladly give her to him as a wife. But Amnon raped Tamar, then threw her out of his house to deal with the shame of what he had done to her by herself.
This story on it’s face is horrible enough (and was just the beginning of a tragic sequence of events that would tear King David’s house apart), but examining the truth behind Amnon’s motives and behaviours shows how fully man’s corrupt nature can deceive him, leading him to acts he may have never previously imagined possible.
Amnon said he loved Tamar. Did he really? The Bible clearly tells us what love is:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – 4) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6) it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7) Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love is about desiring the best for others, rather than being selfish or ‘insisting on its own way’. So its obvious that Amnon didn’t truly love Tamar. But it should also be clear that the demonstration of this goes far beyond the act of rape. When Tamar suggested that it might be possible for them to be married, if Amnon had truly loved her, this should have been encouraging news. Clearly it wasn’t. In fact Amnon’s true intentions were clear much earlier from the observation that Tamar was a virgin and that it seemed he ‘couldn’t do anything to her’ (2 Samuel 13:2). His proclaimed ‘love’ was nothing more than lust. All Amnon was interested in from Tamar was sex. And once he had gotten it his ‘love’ disappeared, replaced by hatred. He knew he had sinned and wanted the reminder of his transgression gone from his presence.
Like Amnon, we often mistake intensity of feeling for honest emotions. This is a particularly dangerous self-deception. Most abusers claim their hurtful actions are motivated by love, which gives them an automatic justification for their hurtful actions—whether dishonesty, excessive jealousy, emotional attacks, or physical and sexual assault. The Bible makes it clear that true love always protects and never hurts others.
This serves as a warning to us. It is relatively easy to convince ourselves that our intentions are more pure and less selfish than they actually are. It is important for us to examine our thoughts and actions and honestly assess whether they are in agreement with our claimed intentions. If we don’t we can easily find ourselves getting what we think we want, but turning it into a curse rather than a blessing.