Him to his
He would nothing do,
But Amnon had a friend.
This friend unfriendly told him
How to acquire what he desired.
So to bed he went with illness feigned
And requested Tamar his nurse to be.
She came to him not knowing his intent;
But when he sent away the servants,
She implored him to use reason.
“Please ask: the king our father
Will surely give you me.
Do not this evil.”
He had his way.
This is a very tender subject, and my heart goes out to Tamar. I have put off writing my post until the last possible minute simply because I am torn about what to say. There are certain things on my mind, but to say them I risk appearing judgmental. It is not at all my intention to throw any blame on Tamar for what happened to her, or on any other young woman who has suffered a similar tragedy. But the truth is that there are men—even trusted family members—who wish to violate girls and women, and we ladies need to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Mt. 10:16). There is a message here for the men as well—all of us, really. I alluded to it in line 6 above: “But Amnon had a friend.”
Amnon became infatuated with his half-sister Tamar. He obsessed over her. Day after day he pined over her and lusted after her beauty. Our English Bible says Amnon loved her, but the word only means that he desired her sexually, nothing more. That, ladies, is not true love. Yet as much as Amnon craved relations with her, he would not think of actually hurting her because she was a virgin, and his sister, albeit only his half-sister.
But Amnon had a friend. Some friend he turned out to be! Jonadab saw that his friend Amnon was deeply troubled and asked him what the problem was, so Amnon confided in him of his lust for Tamar. Did Jonadab suggest that he ask the king to give him Tamar as a wife? No. Did he tell Amnon that his feelings were wrong, and that he needed to replace those wicked thoughts with pure thoughts? Again, no. Jonadab contrived a plan whereby Amnon could have what he wanted, and Amnon went for it.
By the time Tamar realized she was trapped, it was too late. Amnon would not listen to reason, and he was too strong for her to resist. He defiled her and stole her virginity. And as soon as he did, he hated her. In fact, the Bible says that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her (2 Sam. 13:15).
Amnon cast her out of the room, never wishing to see her again. Tamar was even more distressed, for having been violated, he would now have nothing more to do with her. Back then there was no hope of marriage for a woman who had lost her virginity. Poor Tamar took off the clothing that symbolized her virginity, dressed herself in the clothing of mourning, and went to her brother Absalom’s house, where she would spend the rest of her days.
How could this tragedy have been averted?
Before I answer this question, let me reiterate that I am not throwing stones at these people, but merely pointing out ways that we can learn from their experience. All Scripture is given for our learning, and we certainly need to learn to be cautious when it comes to the power of the flesh.
1. Amnon could have guarded his heart by obeying the Spirit of the Lord.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
2. Amnon could have chosen not to listen to the bad advice of his friend.
Proverbs 24:6b …in multitude of counselors there is safety.
3. Amnon’s friend could have given good advice.
Proverbs 10:23 It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding has wisdom.
4. Tamar could have taken a girlfriend with her and insisted that the girlfriend be allowed to stay with her at all times.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up.
Incidentally, all the verses above were written by Solomon, another son of David and half-brother to Tamar, Amnon, and Absalom. Do you suppose that at least some of his writings were influenced by what happened within his family?
What about us today?
While I realize that some men read my articles, my message is addressed primarily to the women, and I have two messages for you today, two areas in which we may practice purity:
1. Men aren’t the only seducers out there. Women certainly know how to bring men down with their wily ways as well. Ladies, let’s not entice men to do wrong. Let’s dress modestly, walk and talk modestly, and behave as becomes daughters of the King.
Psalm 45:13a The king’s daughter is all glorious within…. [emphasis mine]
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
2. Ladies, let’s not put ourselves in a place where we can be taken advantage of. This is not always avoidable, I know, but many times we get in trouble simply because we do not take necessary precautions.
When going shopping, particularly at night…
- Take someone with you, preferably your husband or older son, but having any other companion is better than going alone.
- Park in a conspicuous place, especially under a light.
- Lock your vehicle, and have your keys in your hand when you return to it.
- Look around, and even under your vehicle, for anything suspicious or anyone who may be hiding.
- If someone is standing near your vehicle, wait for them to leave before you approach. If they look as though they don’t intend to leave, go back inside the store and ask a male store clerk to escort you to your vehicle.
When meeting anyone of the opposite sex, whether related or not…
- It is wise to bring someone else with you to the meeting, if for no other reason than to avoid the appearance of evil.
- If you must meet alone…
- let your husband or some other trusted person know (in advance) of the meeting, for the sake of accountability. Tell them when it is scheduled to begin and when you expect it to end. Then check in with them when you leave.
- meet in a public place, if possible.
- keep the door open.
- keep the meeting brief.
- don’t let him come between you and the door.
- carry pepper spray for emergencies, and don’t be afraid to use it.
- get out immediately if you sense the slightest danger.
3. Perhaps the most important thing of all is that we need to teach these principles to our daughters. Young ladies are very often naïve, trusting, and caring, especially if they have been brought up in a nurturing home. But they need to understand, without becoming jaded, that a certain degree of caution is wise. This is not to be confused with a lack of trust, or with fear and paranoia—this is wisdom and discretion. You might share this passage with her from the book of Proverbs, the book of wisdom:
Proverbs 3:21-26 My [daughter], let not them [wisdom, understanding, and knowledge] depart from your eyes: keep sound wisdom and discretion: So shall they be life unto your soul, and grace to your neck. Then shall you walk in your way safely, and your foot shall not stumble. When you lie down, you shall not be afraid: yea, you shall lie down, and your sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it comes. For the LORD shall be your confidence, and shall keep your foot from being taken.
The apostle Paul also had very good advice for us:
Ephesians 5:15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.
Imagine a cat walking along a wall in which broken pieces of glass are embedded in cement. He is walking circumspectly, fully aware of every single step he takes.
Another illustration of circumspect is the correct attitude when driving. A good driver is aware of what’s going on around him at all times, and in most cases can avoid a collision because he is able to make a split-second decision to avert disaster. We would never label a safe driver as being paranoid. Even so young women should be assured that they are doing the right thing to exercise caution in social settings.
Tamar was a victim of incest, and incest is still a sad reality today. But there are also incidents of kidnapping, rape, murder, and even human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a real and serious issue.
Maybe you think I’ve gone off the deep end with this topic. But the truth is, slavery is not dead, and human trafficking is a real issue taking place both in our country and around the world. This is something that we all believe could never happen to us or to anyone we know, but there are no guarantees. We must take the precautions we know to take and trust the Lord for safety each and every day.
There are many organizations dedicated to rescuing women and children from human trafficking. An artist friend of mine, Beverly Gurganus, has dedicated an entire line of her paintings to the cause of raising awareness of the dangers of human trafficking and supporting a local non-profit called The Butterfly House, whose mission is to build a safe home for minor girls rescued from sex trafficking.
Here are more links to some of the best: National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (WA); Durga Tree International, Inc. (NJ); The Samaritan Women (MD); Not For Sale Fund (CA); Savannah Working Against Human Trafficking Inc. (GA); Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CA); Foundation Against Child Exploitation & Human Trafficking (CA); Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition Inc. (MO); Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (NY); Stop Child Trafficking Now, Inc.; International Association of Human Trafficking Investigators Inc. (FL); Stop Trafficking of People Inc. (NY); People Against Sex Trafficking Inc. (GA); Exodus Cry Inc. (MO); Network Against Human Trafficking (IA).
You may want to reach out to one or more of these organizations to find out how you can help. But wouldn’t it be better if we could help the girls by preventing their capture in the first place? We can do so by equipping them with the knowledge and discretion necessary to make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to be snared by their would-be captors. Not every kidnapping, rape, or incestuous relationship can be prevented, but many can.
In closing, I wish to urge you to do four things:
- Take precautions for your own safety.
- Spread the word about the need for self-defense to other women and girls.
- Support organizations that help rescue women and children from human trafficking.
- Trust in the Lord.
This week’s lesson has been rather intense, but I wish to leave you on a positive note, a note of hope, peace, and joy. There is some truth to the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” I will agree that knowing what dangers lurk in the world can bring fear. “But God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And while we do have a responsibility to take certain measures for our own safety, we can rest in the fact that ultimately our safety depends upon the Lord. We are kept in His hand, and nothing can harm us without His knowledge and apart from His will. This does not give us the freedom to live recklessly, but it does give us the freedom to live in peace, and in joy, and in rest.
Psalm 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
Psalm 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for You, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.
And when bad things happen to God’s people, as they sometimes do, I don’t pretend to understand why. The Father has His reasons, which go far beyond anything we can comprehend. But He has promised never to forsake us, even in times of trouble.
from Isaiah 43:1-5 But now thus says the LORD that created you…, “Fear not: for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior: I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honorable, and I have loved you: therefore will I give men for you, and people for your life. Fear not: for I am with you….
Hebrews 13:5b …for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
You may read Tamar’s story in 2 Samuel 13:1-20.
Next week: The Girl who was possessed
Photo courtesy of estall of Pixabay