2 Samuel 13-15: Manipulation and horror

This is another disturbing account that many of us may wish were not in the Bible. To be clear, Amnon and Tamar are not half-siblings, same father (David), but different mothers. Tamar and Absalom are full siblings, which is why Absalom gets so upset about Tamar’s rape and is willing to kill Amnon. While this entire account is rather horrific, from Amnon’s lust to Absalom’s revolt, I want to point something out for us to ponder from these events.

Notice through all three of these chapters the manipulation that takes place. Jonadab hatches a scheme to lure Tamar to Amnon’s bed, a scheme Amnon carries out. Absalom hatches a scheme to get his brother drunk at a party and then have him killed. Joab hatches a scheme to get Absalom back to Jerusalem through manipulating King David. And finally, Absalom hatches a scheme to lead a revolt against Kind David (a revolt that was more successful than it should have been).

Consider how all of these manipulations reflect David’s manipulation of the situation with Bathsheba and Uriah. He plots to satiate his lust with Bathsheba, he plots to cover up the pregnancy (which fails) and then he plots to have Uriah killed in order to take Bathsheba as his wife. David’s manipulation breeds manipulation within his whole family. Nathan warned David (2 Samuel 12:10-12):

Now therefore, the sword will never leave your house because you despised Me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own wife.’ “This is what the Lord says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you from your own family: I will take your wives and give them to another before your very eyes, and he will sleep with them publicly. You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.’”

 The truth is that this prediction from Nathan comes true in these events in David’s family (including where Absalom publicly has sex with David’s concubines in 2 Samuel 16).

While the events of this section of scripture are disturbing and dire, they teach us an important spiritual truth: when a father leads his family in rejection of God the consequences can and often will be felt for generations. As one author stated: “If a father rejects the covenant of God and takes his family into sin and rejects God, the children will suffer the consequences–often for several generations. Whether or not this is fair is not the issue. Sin is in the world; consequences of sin affected many generations.” (from http://carm.org/bible-difficulties/genesis-deuteronomy/do-sons-bear-sins-fathers-or-not). 

Generational sin is a real and vibrant issue in our own churches today. There are simple examples of this: alcoholism will often lead to addictive personalities in following generations; grudge holding will often lead to generational conflict between families or within families. There are deeper, less easily recognizable generational sins as well. Insecurity among women can sometimes be traced back to an abuse against a mother or grandmother. Lack of self-confidence can be traced back to lies told about self-worth to a father or mother (or heaped on you by people at school while you were growing up, in which case people may be putting on you the sins of their own family). If you grow up being told that you were no good or could do nothing right, chances are that pattern started somewhere in the past and has been propagated through the generations. This is a sin on two fronts: telling the lie and believing the lie. God makes it plain in the Bible that we are all valuable (Matthew 10:31), his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), and that God is concerned even about the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7).

Not many of us take time to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the consequences of generational sin in our own lives so that we can confess them, repent of them and be freed from them. That may seem strange to you, confessing sins that are not your own, but the truth is that the road to restoration begins with confession. Confession is not an admittance of guilt, it is simply an acknowledgement that something outside of God’s will has taken place. Any 12 step program begins with admitting that something is wrong. We so strongly shy away from the act of confession in our Canadian Christian culture, thinking that to confess means to bring shame or reveal shame because of our actions; we see it as completely negative. But as I was trying to point out in yesterday’s posting, confession is actually the way to freedom, to relief, to rest and peace with God and with others. We have it backwards.

For the sake of your children and your grandchildren, don’t allow generational sin to get any further down the line. Root it out, confess it and be free of it.

Happy reading

  • What was familiar from this passage of scripture?  What was something I already knew?
  • What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
  • Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
  • How does this passage apply to my life, here and now?  Do I need to do anything about it?
  • What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalms 3-4, 12-13, 28, 55

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