Sunday, May 28, 2017

May 28

II Samuel 13:1-39; John 17:1-26; Psalm 119:81-96; Proverbs 16:6-7

The Old Testament and the New Testament passages today are very different from each other. In II Samuel 13, we read the vile story of the rape of Tamar by her half-brother, Amnon, and his subsequent refusal to marry her after the evil deed was done. In John, we read Jesus’ beautiful prayer for His disciples.

Let’s look first at David—where is he in this sordid mess with his children? He seems na├»ve, passive. He assents to Amnon’s ‘spoiled boy’ request for his beautiful half-sister to come to him while he is ill. Does David not understand the nature of this son? Amnon lures Tamar closer and closer to his bed and then cruelly overpowers her and rapes her.  The Scripture says that David was furious (II Sam. 13:21), yet he takes no action at all. We read nothing of Amnon being disciplined or being made to marry Tamar; in fact, we read that Tamar is a desolate woman who implores her half-brother to marry her now that she has lost her virginity, but he refuses her with disgust. And she goes to live with her full-brother, Absalom.

Two years later when Absalom asks King David for permission for Amnon to come to his sheep shearing party, David agrees, though he must have known there was bad blood between these half-brothers. Absalom orders his men to kill Amnon in revenge for his sister’s rape. The story is filled with violence and hatred. And Absalom flees to his grandfather in Geshur.

Yesterday we read the judgment that the prophet Nathan spoke to David, and now it is coming true. Nathan said, “The sword will never depart from your house because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah to be your own” (II Sam. 12:10). As David ages, he seems increasingly passive and unable to govern his own house. And he reaps God’s judgment for his own sin of adultery and murder.

Both Psalms and Proverbs speak to this sad evolution of the house of David. “Though love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him” (Pr. 16:6). David didn’t fear the Lord enough on that fateful evening in Jerusalem to avoid the sin he chose—demanding sex with Uriah’s wife just as his son will later demand sex from his half-sister Tamar.

Psalm 119:92 says, “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” David loved God’s law, but he chose to ignore it in his adultery. And in his later years, I don’t see the devotion to God’s law and obedience to his law that we saw in his younger years.

For each of us who want to finish our lives well, we need the prayer that Jesus prays in the New Testament. In John 17:21, Jesus is praying for His own—he prays that they may be one just as He and the Father are one so that the world may believe that the Father has sent Him. He prays for their protection from the evil one (Jn. 17:15).

Jesus, thank you for praying for us, your followers. How we need your protection from our enemy, the devil. And we, your older followers, need this especially so that we may finish well the race you have given us to run. Help us to learn, from your word, the dangers that face us, and may we, by your grace, avoid them and “put our hope in Your Word” (Ps. 119:81b).

Amen.


- Nell Sunukjian

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