Journey Through The Scriptures

David, Part III

Lesson 1: Amnon’s Crime and Death

(Scripture to Read: 2 Samuel 13:1–39)

The final years of David’s reign in Israel were marked by brilliant victories and crushing tragedies that broke his heart. These calamities arose as part of God’s pronouncement through the prophet Nathan that because of David’s sin with Bathsheba, his family would be plagued by violence the rest of his days (2 Samuel 12:10–12). Amnon’s shameful assault on Tamar was the first of these tragedies that would keep David and his family in turmoil. Tamar was a half-sister to Amnon, but she and Absalom were full siblings, with Tamar being the older of the two according to rabbinic tradition.

Amnon was David’s firstborn son and thus heir to the throne. When David heard of Amnon’s crime, he became angry but did nothing to punish his son (v. 21). Absalom, however, seethed with anger and began plotting his revenge. Perhaps he waited two years in order to give both David and Amnon time to lay to rest any suspicions they may have had about Absalom’s motives. Absalom’s suggestion that Amnon attend the sheepshearing celebration aroused David’s suspicion again, but Absalom was able to persuade his father. There at the dinner, Absalom murdered Amnon, then fled to Geshur on the east side of the Sea of Galilee to stay with his grandfather, Talmai. David missed Absalom, but would not let him return to Jerusalem.

Study Questions

  1. What penalty did the Torah specify for someone who was guilty of the crime that Amnon committed against Tamar? (Hint: Read Leviticus 18:9, 29.)
  2. How did Absalom know what had happened without Tamar having to tell him (v. 20)?
  3. Why did Absalom tell Tamar to keep this offense quiet (v. 20)?
  4. Why do you think David failed to punish Amnon for his terrible crime?
  5. Why did someone report to David that all of his sons had been killed by Absalom?

Something to Think About

Family turmoil is often the most painful of all conflicts. It is important to deal with disagreements in our families before they grow into a major confrontation. If there is a healing word or gesture you can offer to defuse tension in your family at this time, you are wise to offer it.