1 & 2 Samuel: Day 29

Absalom’s Restoration

by

Today's Text: 2 Samuel 12:26-31, 2 Samuel 13:1-39, 2 Samuel 14:1-33, Leviticus 18:9, Deuteronomy 22:28-29

Editor’s note: Some passages in 1 & 2 Samuel, namely those in Day 29, deal in subject matter which might be especially painful for some readers. Though many of the wounds we receive in this life are deeply personal and unimaginably painful, when they appear in God’s Word, we are reminded that He sees them. Whenever sin is addressed in Scripture—whether through teaching or story—it comes to us in the context of God’s unwavering commitment to bring an end to all evil in this world through the finished work of Christ (Revelation 21:3-4). We are praying for and with you as you read.

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Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 12:26-31, 2 Samuel 13:1-39, 2 Samuel 14:1-33, Leviticus 18:9, Deuteronomy 22:28-29

“I want to see it, Mom. I’m old enough.” This is what our daughter said to us recently as my husband and I watched the news. We flipped the channel as she walked into the room, and she objected, claiming she could handle it. She wanted, needed, to know what was happening.

It’s a hard line to toe—the line between protecting and equipping—and not just when it comes to children. Even as adults, it’s difficult to know the difference between necessary and gratuitous knowledge. The world is dark. The world is broken. We know this. But knowing in theory is not the same as knowing in fact. It takes coming face to face with the depth and darkness of sin to understand that these are not problems that can be solved with pen and paper and policy. These are problems of the heart.

I know myself. And I know—at least I think I know—the sin I am capable of. I know the darkness I’ve indulged, both in thought and in action, and this knowledge chills me to the bone. But I also know the sin that has been committed against me, sins I have rarely uttered and would be thankful to forget—injustices I may not see a reckoning for this side of heaven. Songwriter Ellie Holcomb sings a line that resonates deep within me, especially when those scenes from the past come calling on my conscience: “I need a rescue, I need a reckoning for all the things I’ve done and have been done to me.”

We all need a rescue. We all yearn for a reckoning.

Today’s passage contains, for me, one of the most difficult in all of Scripture. I have tears brimming in my eyes even as I type this. Tamar’s story makes my insides burn with anger and weep with sorrow at the manifestations of sin. Yet with the fire and the sorrow, I feel the tender voice of the Holy Spirit whisper to my aching heart, “I see this too. In the darkest of the dark—I am here, too.”

These passages from 2 Samuel show us the ugly truth of sin. Sin is deceitful. It is born and bred in lies. Jonadab designed a web of deceit, and Amnon was all too willing to step into it and make it his own. Sin creates desolation—utter emptiness. Amnon’s pleasure became hollow in an instant, and his sin dragged others into this misery. Sin leaves a wake of destruction. What is done cannot be undone. Yes, there is grace for the repentant, but there are still consequences.

I want to gather Tamar into my arms and tell her she is seen. I want her to know that though disgraced, she is valued. I want her to know that though discarded, she is wanted. I want her to know that though dismissed—the sin committed against her gone year after year unacknowledged—that she has a God who fights for her. I want to tell her all the things I wish I could tell myself every time I’ve felt disgraced, discarded, dismissed.

Our God receives us, rescues us, and restores us. This is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we stand here at the end of these tough chapters of 2 Samuel, that is all I have in my hands today. I stand, weeping for the reality and consequences of sin, holding the knowledge that we serve a God who sees. He sees us in our struggle against sin, and He offers us His righteousness and strength (Romans 5:17). He sees us when we are hurt and hollowed out, and He offers us His unending, unbreakable love (Exodus 15:13). He sees the wrongs that plague this dark, sin-stained world, and He offers us His promise to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). He vows to dry our tears, not just with His compassion but also with His justice (Revelation 21:4).

Yes, this world is ever so broken. But God is here. He is the Healer and Redeemer, and He is with us.

Thank you, Jesus, for coming to dwell with us, for giving your life for the sins of the world. Thank you, Jesus, that the gospel is true.

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  • Our God receives us, rescues us, and restores us. This is the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ

  • Well done SRT and the SRT sisterhood. Amanda nailed it and the insight from the comments made a difficult text so much richer ❤️

  • Thank you for your response! It makes sense about protecting the woman from being an outcast, but why couldn’t the law simply say to punish the man and that the woman shouldn’t be an outcast? I understand this is in a different culture, but couldn’t God’s law have adjusted this so that a woman’s worth wasn’t based on her virginity? Especially when it’s taken from her. Also, how could the marriage be at all a good thing if this is what the marriage was founded on? (I hope my question makes sense, and thank you again for your help!)

    • CJ

      I thought exactly this while I was reading too! Why on earth was it a good thing to be married to your rapist!!!?? So the way I reconcile this – and it is partly from Tamar’s response, it that the man has to pay for his actions. She would not be able to marry or support herself in those times. By NOT marrying her he condemns her to a life of poverty and being an outcast. I imagine it wouldn’t exactly be a happy marriage- but it was better than being discarded on the street. I imagine the deal would be that he would provide her space to live and the means to live well and that would be that. I guess he would marry other women too and Tamar would hopefully be able to avoid any intimate contact with him and just ‘live’. I agree though, the woman does get a bit of rough deal.

  • I have a question related to the Deuteronomy reading, if anyone has some wisdom to share. To me, this passage does not speak to treating women well. Why would a woman be required to marry her rapist? That seems abhorrent and this makes no sense to me. I have run into this question a few times during my reading of the OT law, and have experienced passages like these used as arguments against Christianity. Does anyone know how to address this?

    • truthseeker

      Even Tamar told Amnon that his sending her away was a far worse wronging than his raping her. The reason is that he took the only thing that she could give to her husband and now she no longer had it because of him. Therefore since he took her virginity he was obligated to marry her and would not be legally allowed to divorce her as it was because of him and him alone that she was now “damaged” and therefore unmarriageable.
      You need to remember that our current culture is far different in attitudes than they were at the time this took place. It is a difficult thing to resolve in a modern womans mind. But God gave the law to protect this woman from being an outcast but Amnon disobeyed that law also. The shame is on him.

    • Lana

      I agree with Truthseeker. It’s important to remember these laws were written for a very specific time and place. The Christ message is 2000+ years old now. Thanks to His teachings, we as people and as societies, have evolved. Thanks be to GOD. So happy I didn’t live back then. Bless all the women who did.

      • Gina

        I am not sure if the world is much better now!!! But I understand what you mean…
        I really liked in the first paragraph where she said there is a fine line between protecting and equipping. I have a 6 and an 8 year old. Sometimes I feel like I am teaching them about certain worldly ways much too early, but I would rather them hear it from me than hear or see it on the playground.
        We were in the grocery store the other day, and my daughter was looking at some pretty colors of nail polish. But then she looked at the rack, and the brand name was SIN. She said ‘Mama don’t they know that that is not a nice word’?
        I did not say much…but I was so sad inside. We homeschool, so it is easier to protect them…but it is still getting harder all the time.I am glad for this statement, “Yes, this world is ever so broken. But God is here. He is the Healer and Redeemer, and He is with us.”

  • Diane Huntsman

    It’s so easy to camp out on the injustices.. naturally we are angered and creating our signs for the protest march.. we chant JUSTICE! It’s now fair!!!! And then my mind shifts, it goes back 2000 plus years to the place called Calvary my eyes look upon a couple pieces of rough wood fashioned as a cross where a sinless Savior gave of himself in the most torturous inhumane way… because of heinous sins like this in which we read of, Jesus took the beatings and the nails.. He suffered an excruciating death to pardon our iniquities.. it wasn’t fair.. it wasn’t just for him to have to die.. He did no wrong, no fault was found in Him.. and yet it was the requirement that His Father set that we might be saved.. so yes.. I was seething mad over what I read today.. I wanted justice for Tamar and I want it for every single solitary person who has been violated on this way.. but in my seething anger I have to recall the God/man who took the bullet on my behalf.. the suffering savior who sees all the suffering and has compassion on every last soul who tries to navigate through the utter pain of it all.. He is the rescue in the pit of despair.. He is the healing ointment in the process of recovery.. He sees, He feels, He rescues.. Jesus knows and wants to do the heeling work that truly only He can do.

  • I, like everyone else, am left angry and confused by such an awful turn of events. However, verse 33 stood out to me.. “& the kind kissed absalom”. It reminds me of the parable of the lost son & how when he returns (after being stupid and hurting his father) he is welcomed with arms wide open. Obviously it took David a while to get there, but nonetheless I think it’s cool David puts his hurt aside from his son killing his 1st born and welcomes him back. I kind of see God acting this way towArd us…he isn’t pleased with what we have done but when we come to him on reverence, he is quick to pick us back up as his own!

  • Definitely a God thing that I read this today —

    Having been violated in the past, this story both torments and heals my soul. My heart breaks for what has happened to me, and for others who have gone through similar experiences. Like Tamar, I have been through the grief of losing something that, in truth, I cannot get back. But unlike Tamar, this doesn’t have to consume me. I am SO blessed to know Jesus; to know that He sees what has happened, and His heart breaks right along side mine. The experience was a major catalyst for my placing God at the center of my life — He is where my identity lies, and nothing can remove that.

    Now, I’m struggling to support a close friend who I have just discovered has gone through this. She is not a believer, and so the way I go about comforting her and being there for her is difficult for me, as Christ was my sole healer, and she doesn’t have that yet. This devotional has convicted me– I need to be more courageous in how I handle the situation– I need to talk to her. Acknowledging that I know what has happened and my heart breaks with hers. Prayers are appreciated during this time, as I am reminded of my past and am navigating this today.

    • Scarleth

      Praying for you and your friend.

    • SB

      Praying for you and your friend Anna! I know I continually like to hear it wasn’t my fault from everyone and it’s the same thing I say to others!

    • She Reads Truth

      Anna, thank you so much for being willing to share a bit of your story. We will be praying for your friend, for healing and restoration. We will also be praying for you as you walk through this extremely difficult time with her. We are so glad to have you as part of this community!

      • Kristen

        Praying for You to have strength and wisdom as you walk through this with your friend. Don’t be afraid to share how Jesus helped you through and brought healing and comfort. She may turn to Him. He really is the One to heal and bring hope. How blessed she is to have a friend like you. I admire how you shared that this drew you closer to God and you didn’t let it consume you! You are God’s and you know it! You are an inspiration, because everyone goes through something that they can let ruin them. Thank you for reminding people there is healing through Jesus.

    • Lana

      Praying and sending you both all of my love, Anna!

  • Does anyone else resonate with Absalom? He took action! Killed his sisters rapist. Set a field on fire when he couldn’t get Joabs attention. And yet…where is God in his choices? I too long to take justice into my own hands rather than leaving it to the Lord. It’s so much harder to humble myself and pray rather than acting especially when I see someone harmed or disgraced. Change my heart Lord, and help me know that you are a God of justice as well as grace. Absaloms actions only lead to more sin.

    • Emily B.

      Exactly! It’s easy to side with Absalom’s choices regarding what happened to his sister, but you said it perfectly–where was God in his decisions? Definitely something to consider in my own life.

    • Scarleth

      I can totally relate. It is so hard to let go and let God (as cliché as that sounds) but as Romans 12:19 says “Friends, do not avenge yourselves, instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” We must trust that God knows best in every situation good or bad. I’ve learned that when I try to do things on my own I only make things worse. May the Lord help us to remain still and let Him work all things out for the good of those He loves.

    • Lana

      I totally and completely feel the same way. My first reaction to Absalom was a whole hearted GOOD. Kill your sister’s rapists and burn the whole place down!!! What a man!!! The Lord is still working on me.

  • So thankful that our God sees us in the midst of sin and chaos! Praying for you all who have been through this.
    First day of college today!! Excited and a little nervous. Prayers appreciated, that they go well, that I manage my time, and meet good friends.

    • Brenda

      Sara, wishing you many good things for your college years. Choose friends wisely, study hard, and stay prayed up! There will be many opportunities to make questionable decisions. Don’t succumb to peer pressure or the words you will here ” it is your time to be free and experiment “. It only takes one bad choice, to ruin your future. I’m not saying these things to scare you, just to make you aware that although college can be a great experience, it definitely will test your values and beliefs. I wish you nothing but the best and am praying you make good choices and stay safe. Wishing you a great four years!

    • truthseeker

      Sara-Brenda has given you fantastic God inspired advice and I hope and pray that you will remember as days turn into weeks, then months, then years. I would like to add something that I heard Jerry Falwell say about LU students”Not all of the students that come to Liberty University are Christians, but we hope that when they leave they will be.” (Not exact wording-it has been some years ago). With this said- keep in mind that just because your fellow students are attending a Christian university they may not embrace or reflect the Christian beliefs and way of life. Be wise and discerning ! I pray for Gods blessings on you as you embark on this new period of your life.

  • Gina Glennon

    Amen and Amen! Beautifully said.

  • “We all need a rescue. We all yearn for a reckoning.”

    It is so easy for the enemy to manipulate seasons and cause us to catch glimpses, in movie like fashion, of things that have been done to us and things that we have done. It is like a pit of tar we are surprised to find ourselves in that keeps us stuck, until the good Lord removes us. The enemy knows these things can torment and especially in hard seasons where our emotions give rise and fall to the ups and downs of any given day. These things add up, as if scores on a score card and we can feel overcome by the weight of thoughts such as; “No one understands, I’ll never be the same, the pain is too great, there is too much to overcome, not a soul cares, I am unworthy of anything good, if God cared, He wouldn’t allow this” …. Lies, every single one. In moments where I feel abandoned and these sorts of thoughts are whispered in my ear I have put into practice the need to ask them as questions. Instead of hearing, “Not a soul cares”, I ask “Not a soul cares?” and it immediately allows me to hear the answer because I KNOW the answer, I have read the answer, been told the answer and have seen the answer … “No, my God cares. He cares so greatly”…. “I am unworthy?” … “No, God says I am all together worthy of His love, worthy of His calling, worthy of His attention”. “Too much to bear?” … “God knows pain, Jesus took it. Jesus suffered excruciating pain at the hands of others, too much for anyone to bear and still He overcame and He did it for all, not just some”. God always has the answers. He didn’t design the world this way, sin entered the Garden and God’s plans for us were devoured in one bite. He sees what’s done to us and what we do and He weeps, He knows, He is here but even in our hiding, He seeks us. He will always seek us. There isn’t a circumstance or stain that He will ever say is too much. Jesus just loves us in every state and He will never forsake our hearts … Jesus is always there, holding us in our wretchedness. I am beyond words grateful for a Savior who loves me so much and has placed His desire for me in such a way that it is a life preserver in great seas of torment. Overcome with His faithfulness this beautiful Monday morning.

    • MNmomma(Heather N)

      Thank you for your words this morning B <3 ….love your thought of changing those fears/thoughts into questions….allowing for the affirmation of faith and the TRUTH to be said….powerful!

    • Hilary

      Wow. Thank you for those words! Amen!

    • Tochi Heredia

      Thank you for this, B. It warmed and comforted my heart.

    • Emily B.

      Lovely. Thank you for this. :)

  • For me this story hits home. My brother molested me for years. I didn’t tell my parents till much later. They responded similar to david. Ignore it and it will go away. So it’s kind of comforting to me knowing even King David didn’t know what to do and didn’t do what Tamar or A needed from him but that makes him human, it makes it real. People disappoint us but I also can disappoint people and it makes it better knowing that God can still find favor and love in David because the Bible shows me how much God loves us!

    There can be great healing in rape. I have spent many years in therapy for what my brother did and later in college 2 guys raped me. To see my parents response to that was just as troubling. But God has shown He cares and loves me time and time again. He personally cares about each and every one of us!

    If you’ve been raped please seek counseling from someone you trust and respect! It really helps to talk! And know it wasn’t your fault and that God is near you! He loves you and can heal you!

    • Jenn

      Wow! Thank you for sharing. What an amazing testimony you have for anyone struggling to see that despite something so horrible happening, God is still good. God bless you

    • H

      Amen. He is an amazing Healer, even of our darkest memories.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for being willing to tell your story, SB. This is indeed such a heavy topic. We’re so glad to hear you were able to seek counseling and help in the midst of your healing, and can now use your testimony as an encouragement for others. So glad to have you here in this community.

    • Lana

      Sending you all my love and praying for you mightily, SB.

    • Allie Smith

      Oh, I am weeping for you. I’m so sorry for what you have gone through, and I wish I could sit with you and just cry. Thank you for sharing…I can’t even fathom.

  • churchmouse

    Yes. This is hard stuff. So many times in the passages today, there is a cross road : a place where a path must be chosen. A path of righteousness or a path of selfishness. Amnon chose to let his emotions gather steam. He chose to listen to his cousin’s suggestion. He chose the pretense and called for Tamar. He chose to send his servants out of the room. He chose to grab her. He chose to disregard her words of truth and consequence. He chose to rape and then to hate. Each one a cross road. And that’s just Amnon. At each cross road, he made a decision. David too came to a cross road – anger but no action against Amnon. And later a crossroad with dealing with his murderous son Absalom. Absalom ran into crossroads also. Don’t we all? We sometimes make hasty decisions due to the emotion of the moment. Sometimes we pay a heavy price. Sometimes reconciliation can occur. Sometimes the division lasts a lifetime. Sometimes it is someone else’s decision and we receive the blunt force of it. Sometimes the wound heals quickly and sometimes it lingers, becoming a kind of living torture. Satan is oh so cunning. But our God is not fooled. And He is not pleased. He is a just God who does not misplace your case file. A court date will be set. A trial will occur. Both vengeance and judgment is His. He will exact it in His timing. He sees both the villain and the victim. He is also Healer and Comforter and Deliverer and Restorer. He is ever the Lover of our soul. Though we may not see justice in our earthly life, we can experience victory. Greater is He that is in us… Praying for all of us who have experienced deep pain and injustice. Praying we feel held by Him who holds the universe. Praying we take hold of His strength and power. Praying we rise from the sackcloth and ashes and walk on as who we are – daughters of the King of all Kings, robed in righteousness, profoundly loved, the apple of His eye. He’s a good good Father. He sees. He knows. He will take care.

  • Karen From Virginia

    I am also grateful for Jesus. In the story because Tamor was violated her life was never the same and she lived as a desolate woman. Any woman who has been raped or molested certainly has been changed by it. But my hope and my prayer because the Redeemer lives is that the Lord places that robe of righteousness and dignity and honor back on the Tamor the world. We need to know that we are no longer clothed in shame but the Lord desires to heal and restore and place on us the robe of honor and dignity like Taymor’s virgin robe. He is our redeemer and he can do things that can heal the desolate places!

  • Karen From Virginia

    David. The David we love is flawed (like the rest of us) it’s rough to see him be so passive regarding his daughters rape. The Bible says he was angry but it’s like he never followed through. Then it occurred to me for the first time that may be his lack of involvement has more to do with his own sins. Often it is hard for people to challenge your convict or hold people accountable when they have that same last issue.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Oops! I wasn’t done. It was lust issue. I wondered what the difference was between what happened to Tamar and Bathsheba. The only really difference is that Tamar was a virgin. David also played a role although innocently in making this happen. David need to learn to use his power to bless his children instruction instead of ignoring the problem . Father help us to be humble and be in repentance. Then we can also help others to be restored where they often stumble and fall. Our only hope is in the cross.

  • Thank you for this Amanda! What a deep devotional, truly revealing the ugliness of sin. It left me wondering though, do you think that David’s sin in the last chapter with Bathsheba had anything to do with the sins of his son? And with the horrible thing that happened to his daughter? It reminds me of Genesis where Jacob brought his family to Shechem when he should not have, and because of his sin, Dinah was abused. I wonder if this chapter in 2 Samuel has anything to do with God’s punishment of David for his sin.

    • Abby

      I think David’s sin in this is not dealing with either son. He never disciplines his sons as recorded by scripture, perhaps because he is all too aware of his own sin. But God is not a “Cosmic Killjoy” as we sometimes fear. David lost his first son with Bathsheba as a consequence of his sin, but God is not punishing David, he has already restored him. Does this help?

    • JessMC

      I’ve been thinking about the same thing Kari. I’ve also been thinking, is it a surprise that David’s sons acted in this way when their example, their father, has many wives and concubines and uses women?

      Reading through Tamar’s story I can’t help but feel anger towards Kind David for the example he set for his sons. Amnon’s sin is his own BUT I feel that David’s actions towards women had an influence on his sons.

      It makes me reflect and be grateful for the men in my life who have lived a life of integrity and gentleness towards women. I do not have a son but I have two daughters. I pray for them to know men in the future who have had men of integrity in their lives and set a Godly example for them.

  • Excuse me, but Why are we worried about Absoloms restoration?

    What about Tamar?
    David did not do right by either of those two, did he?

    This cut to the core of me… it truly did…
    I am praying with a friend who was abused as a child by her father and uncle… within me I would want to do absolutely what Absolom did… find them and ….

    But God…. and His Word is what we stand on. And days like today, reading this or hearing of such things, we have to hold on to His Word and promises even more…NOT always or ever easy…

    But God…
    Thank you Lord God that although there is anger within me for this sin against this innocent young woman, and reminds me of my dear friend that I can call on your name, that I can look to you, that I can trust in your word for healing, not for me, but for Tamar and all the Tamars out there Lord God…
    I pray Lord, that although this was old testament stuff that you were with her in this situation and that somewhere down the line she knew You were with her…that you saw her, that there was healing for her, that she found your grace, mercy and love in the life after such horridness …
    Thankful for the grace afforded us by the your Son, through His death and resurrection. Thank you Lord… thank you…
    I know this was about Absolom and David, but my heart was drawn to the plight of Tamar… I also know this is about God and His goodness, grace, faithfulness, healing, love and hope… and I am so very thankful for that…

    Love wrapped hugs and prayers…to all.. x

    • Abby

      I listened to a podcast on the Jude 3 project website by Dr Christina Edmundson on bitterness and the Christian witness. One thing she mentions is that how easy it is in our cry for justice to actually forget the victim. So justice becomes something selfish. She mentions this and also the rape of Dinah. It’s worth asking ourselves if we let others tell their story and release their pain or do we move on quickly or seek justice on a human level. Why are there so many forgotten women in the Bible? Yet none is forgotten to our God, just as each of us is also remembered before him. May we take heart in his love today, sisters of the Word!

  • I’m sure most of us find this passage difficult, but thank you SRT for going there, and for doing it so sensitively.
    I find it reassuring that Tamar’s story is not forgotten but is included in Scripture. We all have our stories of brokenness, where the consequences of others’ sin have been devastating, and God does not forget those either. Our stories matter to him.
    I was reminded of this quote by Eric Liddell this morning: “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.”
    No matter how broken we are, he can heal and restore. I have seen that in my own life- I have not been raped but was sexually abused as a child- and God has healed and restored so much and used it to grow compassion to help others with similar experiences.
    Praying for you all today, especially those who find this passage particularly tough.

  • This was hard to read and process because I, like many other people, was raped when I was a teenager and I feel like such a violation can tear you away from your own body and healing can seem impossible. I do, however, feel God’s work in my life as I finally accepted the fact that I need counseling to deal with burying this trauma for many years. I believe His loving hand is healing me and I press into Him as I’ve never done before. He is for me. He too was publicly humiliated and shamed. I pray for all who have been violated, abused and urge them to turn to God, he is the binder of the broken.

    • Lesley

      Praying for you, Holly. I’m so glad you’ve been able to have counseling to speak about and process what happened. Praying for continued healing and that yoy know how much God loves you and how precious you are to him.

    • Tina

      Holly, holding out my hands to you… filled with love of a mother, sister, friend… and prayers . Keeep holding on to Him who has you, who sees you, who is with you… know His peace, His redeeming, saving, awesome healing love around you… You are His and He WILL wipe those tears, those feelings of worthlessness He WILL take away, one day at a time.. He is with you..

      Sending love wrapped hugs and prayers to you, Holly.. xxx

    • Karen From Virginia

      Praying that you would know God’s loving arms as you heal from your trauma. May God place His royal robe of honor, beauty and grace upon you.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you so much for being willing to share a bit of your story Holly, and we are so sorry to hear that you had to experience this. We are praying for you for continued healing and restoration, and are so glad to have you as part of the SRT community!

    • Lana

      Sending you all my love, Holly.

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