Brother against Brother - 2 Samuel 13:23-39
Prayer: Lord as we study your word today we thank you that your scripture teaches us practical lessons for our lives. We pray that we would learn from both the good and the bad examples given in scripture, and that we would seek your help and wisdom for living in this fallen world among fallen people. Amen!
Quickly Form Groups:
1. With which family member do you tend to have the most strife & why? How might God want you to change in order to glorify Him in this relationship?
There is strife in David's family, David's oldest son (Amnon) has raped one of David's daughters (Tamar, his half-sister), and another of David's sons (Absalom, Tamar's full-brother) is hopping mad about the whole thing... but daddy David, though furious, apparently doesn't do anything about it. This is a recipe for disaster...
2 Samuel 13:23-25 - It's two years later & the time for sheep-shearing has come!! Ok, maybe that's not exciting to you, but to an Israelite of that day it was a festive occasion - perhaps we could compare it to something like our Thanksgiving holiday that's coming up soon. Either Absalom was in charge of the King's sheep, or had sizable flocks of his own, and the time had come to shear the sheep and celebrate. Absalom invites all the men in the family to join him, all the king's sons as well as the King and the King's officials. To invite family to join was not unusual, but to invite this huge family to all come is a very large gathering, so King David declines since it would be a burdensome for all the men to join. Was David thinking that he & his officials were too old for all this? Perhaps... This is hard labor followed by partying, something more appealing to a younger group of men. Despite Absalom's urging David didn't change his mind, but did give his blessing.
Let's look a moment at the possibility of the the flocks being the King's sheep, since that makes the most sense with all the men in the family being invited. 2 Samuel 8:2 - the Moabites are subdued & bring tribute, but what is the tribute they must bring? 2 Kings 3:4 - The annual tribute Moab was to make as a vassal state was 100,000 lambs & the wool of 100,000 rams.
2 Samuel 13:26-27 - Absalom hasn't given up yet, in fact I think things are working according to plan. What he really wants is to get Amnon to go with him, and the fact that he has to bring all the kings sons along is no problem. The request may seem suspicious to us, but remember it's two years after Tamar was raped. Amnon was the oldest of the sons & perhaps the strongest & most experienced of the bunch, he's also the "crown prince", the heir apparent, and as such he could join the celebration as the king's representative - this again makes a lot of sense if this is the King's flocks being sheared. More hands would make the work go more quickly, and the more the merrier at the after-party. David agrees & off his sons go to work & to celebrate.
2 Samuel 13:28 - But wait, there's a plot afoot!! Absalom hasn't forgiven Amnon, and he's certainly not forgotten what Amnon did to his sister. Absalom tells his men that he will watch for when Amnon is drunk from wine (at the celebration), and then give them the order to strike Amnon down. He encourages his men to be brave & reassures them that he will take the blame since it is on his order that they are acting. I'm guessing Amnon was a seasoned fighting man since they would wait for him to be somewhat incapacitated before he was killed.
2 Samuel 13:29 - Absalom gives the order & Amnon is killed. The rest of David's sons may have thought that Absalom was trying to secure his succession to the throne by killing Amnon. In any case they got on their mules, the normal mount for royalty in David's kingdom, and fled toward home.
2 Samuel 13:30-31 - In ancient Israel bad news spread faster than Princes fleeing on mules, because an errant report comes to David that all his sons are dead. Apparently others that had been at the sheep-shearing celebration also fled, perhaps they exited before David's sons left, and perhaps by horse (they were available in the area). David & all his servants tear their robes & openly grieve, David is face down on the ground, utterly devastated!
2 Samuel 13:32-33 - Jonadab, David's nephew, the one who had helped Amnon trap Tamar, he is the one who clears up the matter. Apparently Jonadab wasn't too happy about how Amnon had acted toward Tamar, since he seems to be in-the-know regarding Absalom's feelings. He tells David that Absalom has been expressing his intention to kill Amnon ever since Tamar was raped. Jonadab reassures David that his other sons still live, that only Amnon is dead.
David hadn't dealt with Amnon, and he hadn't dealt with Absalom's anger toward Amnon, the rift hadn't been healed, and so the price of inaction must be paid. The "crown prince" is now dead.
2 Samuel 13:34-36 - Absalom flees, he knows the penalty for murder & that he is now family enemy #1. The watchman sees men coming from a distance, Jonadab points out to David that this is his sons returning. Indeed it is the kings sons, they come in wailing loudly, and they and King David & the servants bitterly grieve. The sword would not depart from David's house (prophesied in 2 Samuel 2:10), and it is cutting David's family deep in the heart.
2 Samuel 13:37 - Absalom fled to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. As soon as I read this I was wondering "why kind of king is this?" & "why did Absalom flee to this particular king & country?" 2 Samuel 3:3 - Absalom flees for protection to his Maternal Grandfather. Grandpa would have been likely to be sympathetic, this is his grandson who was avenging his granddaughter, and avenging her against someone (Amnon) that wasn't one of his own family.
2 Samuel 13:38-39 - Absalom stays in Geshur for three years. David longs for his son Absalom, perhaps he realizes that Absalom had worked out the justice for Tamar that he himself had failed to do. David was consoled regarding Amnon, his grief had dissipated. Sometimes we judge David because of his inaction, after all he's the king & should be upholding justice not only in the land but in his family. But David is also a Dad, and you never stop loving your kids even if they make big mistakes or are scoundrels. David seems to have come to terms with Amnon's death and forgiven Absalom.
Closing Prayer: Lord God, help us to forgive those who hurt us, help us to forgive those who hurt the ones we love. Lord please keep us from letting anger eat us up within until it lashes out with dire consequences. Amen!
Read through 2 Samuel 14 as a preparation for the next lesson.
Quickly Form Groups Again:
2. Anger is not sinful in itself, but can lead to sinful actions. When is anger not sinful? What is God's purpose in the emotion we call anger? Discuss the dangers of "stuffing" your anger. Discuss the dangers of readily lashing out in anger.
3. Pray for each other.