Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday, May 14 guest post by Pamela

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is 2 Samuel 13-14; John 4:1-26.

We begin today's readings with the story of Amnon and Tamar. I found that this summed up the events leading up to Chapter 13 quite nicely:

[David] had a very strong sensual desire which he catered to. As king he could cater to it with magnificent regal splendor. He had probably at least 10 wives, as near as we can figure, and unnumbered concubines. Under the law of that day, what the king saw he took, unless she was married. So David acted like the other kings of the earth instead of like God's king. As a result, his household consisted of a series of wives all competing for his affections, as Leah and Rachel did back in Jacob's time. There was no family unit, and the kids grew up competing with one another. They lived in separate houses. Each wanted to be king, so each looked with a jaundiced eye on the first born above him. Amnon was the first born, Chileab was the second born, but apparently by now he has been slain in battle, which moves Absalom up to number two. We are going to see that Absalom is not above a little self-interest when revenging his sister's violation. He wants to be king, but Amnon the first born is standing in his way. So, we have brothers Amnon and Absalom in competition with one another because of the household that David himself set up in defiance of Deuteronomy 17. This is where we are at the beginning of Chapter 13.

So, the story begins with a shaky foundation and it goes from bad to worse. From the same site:

Amnon falls in love with his step-sister, but in actuality his feeling is lust. He doesn't know what true love is. He has never seen it. There was no true love in his family. You recall Bathsheba was not loved by David. She was violated by David. She was not loved until a year or so after their child was born and died. Finally David comforted her after the loss of that child broke him, and only then did God begin to call Bathsheba his wife. It is probable that after he had lain with her he had all the disgust and self-loathing and guilt that goes with something like that. That is the model of love Amnon witnessed.

So Amnon lusts after his step-sister Tamar who is a beautiful girl. The law of God says if a half-sister and a half-brother marry, they were both to be slain. If a half-brother violated a half-sister, he should be slain. An incestuous relationship even as close as a half-brother and half-sister was totally illegal under the law of God. What does Amnon care. Big daddy not only committed adultery, which violated that law, but also murdered the woman's husband, which violated that law, also the 6th, 7th and 10th commandments and got away with it. Why should Amnon observe the law of God?

By constantly dwelling on his desire and feeding the flames of that desire and not being able to satisfy it, he becomes so frustrated he actually makes himself ill. He can't bring himself to violate her, not yet anyway, because she is a virgin and apparently acts like a virgin. She is a very chaste person. But Amnon has a friend. And as like seems to attract like, we get a little hint of Amnon's character here by the friends he has.

I think this is another example of how our sin affects the people around us. Whether it be the example we are setting for our children or whether we are helping others in a plan to sin or whether we refuse to repent. Sin has serious consequences. Just one more quote:

It is interesting, Jonadab does not suggest marriage. He knows that is illegal. He does suggest a way that will force David's hand. David indeed indulges and loves that first born, the strength of his loins. So if Amnon rapes Tamar, the only thing David can do to alleviate the problem is to use the law of the violated virgin. [Deut. 22:28] Tamar is not engaged, therefore, it will not be adultery. If a virgin is violated by a man under Jewish law, the man must pay fifty shekels of silver to her father, marry her and can never divorce her. In the Jewish culture a non-virgin was a very hard person to marry off. There was stigma attached to her. In fact if she was found to be a non-virgin by the man who married her, she was to be stoned. But Jonadab could trap David. If Amnon raped Tamar, David was faced with either putting his son to death or marrying the two. It was circumventing the law, but, in a sense, accomplishing it and probably buying off the wrath of God and the wrath of the people. So here is the kind of reasoning that went on in the palace, understandable perhaps considering the way they were brought up. Intriguingly enough Jonadab doesn't seem to be at all worried that David will find out whose idea this was. Where did David lose his authority to uphold the law of God? Why can't he put the fear of God into Jonadab's heart?

A sad story indeed. The initial sin of lust spirals into a series of disastrous events: trickery, rape, hate, shame, revenge, murder. It just seems like there is no hope for the situation. However, the New Testament passage reminds us that there is hope through Jesus. I'm sure that the Samaritan woman believed that there was no hope.

The Samaritan woman at the well is no angel. Mixed up with a wrong crowd, this poor woman from Samaria has quite a reputation. She had been married five times and was living in sin with a man who wasn't her husband.....Because of her lowly status, the Samaritan woman goes to the well during the hottest point of the day to avoid the wagging tongues of her fellow townspeople. Most other people were taking siestas at this time; nobody in his or her right mind is out in the noonday sun. The woman of Samaria knows this and seizes the opportunity to get water for her home without being bothered. (Full text here)

When we sin, we are embarrassed. We try to hide it by trying to cover up the problem like Amnon did when he sent Tamar away. The Samaritan woman chose to get her water in the eat of the day to cover up her sin from the people in her community. They probably felt that there was no hope in there situation but there is hope. There is a way out. God has made the way. We each carry our own burdens, our own hurts, our mistakes, our guilt, our sin and yet God looks past all of that and loves us still. How amazing it that? Just like Jesus calls out the sin of the woman at the well, He calls out our sin too. Not to embarrass us but to let us know that He already knows and that He can forgive us.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for being an all-knowing God. You know us intimately. Our thoughts, our actions, our sins and yet You love us still. We make mistakes and You love us still. We fail over and over again and You love us still. Thank you for Your love and may it teach us how to love each other and become more like You. Guide us in Your ways so that we can be an example to others and draw them to You.

Tomorrow's passage: 2 Samuel 15 - Psalm 3 - Psalm 69 - John 4:27-54


TammyIsBlessed said...

Great connection between the OT and NT passages today Pam. So true that we try to hide our sin, which is futile anyway because God, the Light, sees everything anyway. And in fact, this only hurts ourselves. Allowing Light to reveal our sins is the first step to redemption.

Miriam said...

Great post! I never really thought about how David's children grew up and what they would have witnessed when it comes to family life. Interesting.