Opening Prayer

Merciful Father, as I read your Word each day, help me to apply the truths it holds for me.

Read 2 SAMUEL 13:1-22

Amnon and Tamar

13 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

“Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Read full chapter


  1. 2 Samuel 13:18 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain; also in verse 19.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.’1

Think Further

We constantly see accounts of appalling abuse of many kinds. ‘Man’s inhumanity to man’2 has not changed much over the centuries! It is hard to see how anyone could read this passage and not be horrified. Two privileged young cousins conspire together to plan an assault on an innocent and defenseless woman. They knew that what they planned was wrong, but they saw any effect their plan might have on Tamar as irrelevant. All that mattered was the fulfillment of Amnon’s desire. What he wanted he had to have, whether that involved raping Tamar or throwing her out into the street. The writer wants readers to be horrified. Note the words describing Amnon: he ‘fell in love’, ‘became so obsessed’, ‘grabbed’, ‘raped’, ‘hated’, ‘with intense hatred’ (vs 1,2,11,14,15). Note, also, the way in which the writer speaks of Tamar; her thoughts and feelings are made clear. She was not recognized as a person by the two conspirators, but she was by the writer: as in the poignant description of the way such a lovely, generous girl, became a ‘desolate woman’ (v 20), her clothes torn and ruined, just as she had been. There is no way this passage could be interpreted as God approving of such awful abuse.

So why are we told this story in this way? David’s involvement seems marginal, but although in that context Tamar going to visit Amnon would be seen as inappropriate, David finds it impossible to deny his son anything. Although he was ‘furious’ (v 21), his failure to either punish his son or support his daughter is significant. Amnon was following his father’s example: he wanted, so he took. The after-effects of David’s sin continue.


The danger of concentrating on our own wants, while seeing other people as irrelevant, is not restricted to horrific situations like this. May God keep us from that sin.

Closing prayer

Tender Lord, where there are wounds that no amount of time can heal, I look to you to repair and restore, to give comfort and hope.

Last Updated on September 18, 2023 by kingstar

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *