An Innocent Victim: Tamar

Today’s story runs a little tough for me as a write, so bear with me. I cannot compare what happened to me to what happens in this story, but some parts of it are very real to me. I hope this helps someone else who may be going through the same thing.

King David had many children by different wives. In 2 Samuel 13, his firstborn son, Amnon is in a real pickle. His lust for his half sister, Tamar was getting the best of him. He wanted her, but he didn’t want to marry her. His lust for her drove him crazy. She was so beautiful. He was so tormented by her beauty, and she was a virgin, which would cause huge problems. Well, Amnon had a cousin who planned for him how to work it all out….Amnon would feign being sick. When his father, King David, would come looking for him, he would tell his father he was very ill and would he please send his sister, Tamar to care for him and cook for him. When David learns his firstborn is sick, he immediately sends for Tamar per his son’s request. It was not uncommon for a female family member to care for a sick family member. So following her father’s request, she went to Amnon to care for him.

While there, she did as he asked and made him some bread, which he refused to eat. Instead he sent away all who was in his house, and asked Tamar to feed him in his bedroom. And when she went in there, he told her to lie with him. When she refused, he raped her. It didn’t matter that he was the heir to the throne and could take her as his wife…no he didn’t want that. He just wanted to fill a carnal desire within him. When he was through with her, he hated her more than he had ever lusted for her. He sent a servant to kick her out of his house. Her natural brother, Absalom, found her with her with ashes on her head and her robe torn. Instead of defending her, Absalom told her to be quiet about it. King David found out about it and was furious, but did nothing about it.

Okay, I am stepping out of the story for a moment here. Do you feel Tamar’s pain as much as I do right now? The men she entrusted most with her life have all betrayed her, keeping such a foul secret and ruining her life. She is ruined! Her father….that would have been the biggest betryal to me if my father knew and did nothing about it. I would expect my dad to go out with guns blazing to protect me and my reputation….hers did nothing. What about the fact that big brothers should look out for and protect their little sisters? One brother raped her and the other one told her, “Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” DON’T TAKE THIS TO HEART? Yeah, little sis, shake it off. Don’t let it bother you. WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding me right? Besides the fact that her virginity was TAKEN from her by FORCE, the bible tells us she lived in Absalom’s house “a desolate woman”. She’s got some major emotional wounds here as well as the fact that she is living with a sin that isn’t her fault! Merriam-Webster defines desolate in the following manner “joyless, disconsolate, and sorrowful ” She not only lost her virginity that day, she lost her trust in her family that day. Maybe even her God. Why did God allow this to happen? Don’t we all think this at some time or another? The bible tells us that Absalom never said anything at all to Amnon, but that he hated him for what he did to Tamar. Two years later, Absalom did indeed have his brother Amnon murdered, but what is that to say for Tamar? We lose her after this point. No more mention of her.

Isn’t that sometimes so true in our own society. Rape and incest get swept under the rug, but does the innocent victim ever overcome the hurt and pain? It is possible through the blood of Jesus Christ. Praise God that I was never raped, but I was made highly uncomfortable by a family member when I was a preteen. I was always very uncomfortable when I was alone in a room with him….I made a point of NEVER being alone with him. I honestly believed that if I told anyone in my family about things he attempted with me (mostly fondling…I never let it get further) that it would be my word against his. How fair is that? A young girl going though puberty’s word not taken over a relative. Maybe I was wrong back then. Maybe something would have come of it. To this day, my husband is the only one who really knows. I don’t ever see this relative anymore. He’s not part of the family anymore, but I don’t think I have ever forgiven him. That is something that is very hard to do, but something that I need to do. When we left Tamar in the story, she was desolate. Down, depressed, desolate. We aren’t told what ever became of this young beauty. Life was probably never the same for her again. Who do you trust? Who would want a woman used and thrown out like an old worn out sneaker?

Jesus does.

Dear one, I don’t know if this has ever happened to you. But I do know a Savior that loves you and wants to help you to heal. He is the great Physician. The great Healer. I know you probably don’t trust anyone, but God is trustworthy. His Son paid the ultimate sacrifice for you. Cast all your cares on him. He cares for you. He wants to listen to your hurt and he wants to make you whole again. Jesus paid it all for you. Give Him the heavy yoke that you carry. His is much lighter. He will help you carry the load. I am praying for you, dear sisters.

18 Comments

  1. You know, I have often read this and other such similar stories in the old testament (some even more gory) and wondered why nothing was ever said about the women again or why no one seemed to bother to get justice for them. Some of them even suffered maltreatment from apparently “good” men. I have often wondered like many others – so what became of them? Did they ever find closure? Why did God allow these things to happen? Did he ever avenge them? Is rape/ violence against women so unimportant that the bible does not give us detailed answers to the above questions? Or was it just a function of the times and the customs of the people whom God inspired to write the bible? Answers anyone?

  2. I will see if I can find out the answer to your questions….give me a little time, okay?

  3. This was an interesting one for me to read. While I have not been a victim of assault, two of my closest friends and my sister have been raped within the last three years. I never want to imagine the pain that it brought them, as I saw enough of it as they worked through the feelings of abandoment and lack of trust brought on by these assaults.
    The hardest thing for me though everything has been watching my sister. I continue to pray that she will be able to trust men again, as she has not been in a relationship since the rape and after talking with an older friend who was raped as a young adult, she will have many difficulties to deal with once marriage comes into the picture.

    Thank you for this article. The Lord is a God of healing and restoration, and that brings much peace.

  4. Hello Spicynutmeg and Jada,

    Thank you for this article, Spicynutmeg. I was sad to read of your tainted girlhood. I know you are o.k. but I will pray for you anyway.

    I’ve grieved over how many Christians battle with what seems to be God’s callousness towards the mistreatment of people of all types. Tamar’s story causes many to stumble in their perception of God’s love for woman and mankind. I have struggled with this tale of woe as well but more with anger towards the creeps in Tamar’s life.

    One of the most difficult truths to convey to people who hurt about this subject matter, is the very real person of the devil in the lives of men. Without accepting this fact, the rap for all the wrong doings in this world fall on the shoulders of the very One who we can all rely upon to be ever faithful and ever loving and kind, God our father. I believe it takes much renewing of our minds, through absorbtion of the the Word of God towards the magnificence of our Heavenly Father, to minimize the enemy’s constant lies about Him. Thanks for the reminder for me to stay vigilant to this end, Spicynutmeg.

    Jada, I have been praying for you and will do so for your dear sister. On a color wheel, the complementary color for green ( Jada – jade ) is red so I will use a red stone to remind me to pray the cleansing power of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ over your sister’s life.

  5. Hi Browneyedgirl. Good questions. I think you are probably right when you ask about the customs and times. The bible was written in a patriarchial era – especially these portions of Scripture – and the passages often reflect aspects of this patriarchy. But there are also many passages which subvert the patriarchy, especially once you move into the new testament and the deeper understanding of God brought there.

    Does God care? His heart breaks over this kind of sexual violence. Hence many laws in the old testament, and passages like Malachi 2:15ff, John 8:2ff etc.

    Vengeance? That’s not really God’s style, although there is a final judgement and accounting when the wicked will face retribution for their acts. Read on from this story and you will find all hell breaks loose in David’s family: Amnon and Absolom both die; David experiences terrible consequences as well.

    Hope it helps.
    Blessings!

  6. Thank you for your prayers, smokeypuss. You are a blessing to me.

  7. We need to remember God is ALWAYS just. Sin is always sin, whether we see the results or not.
    I think that God uses these stories for us to relate to in our lives. He knew many people would face these tragedies in there lives and wanted you to know you are not alone. He knew Tamar’s pain, just as he knows everything we face today. When everyone in our lives fails us, we still have our “best friend” Jesus, and he will never leave you. He can and wants to help and heal us if we ask.

  8. It is hard to reconcile sometimes that if God is all powerful and perfectly loving and perfectly just how can He allow some very bad things to happen. There are good theological arguments on various sides of that issue, but when you are one of the deeply injured- or someone you love is deeply injured- my guess is that it can be extremely challenging to come to terms with intellectually and emotionally.

  9. Believe me I know how hard it is to understand “why God allows hurt and pain”. At present my family is dealing with a one month old baby who is fading from this life. He was born with a brain defect and spent most of his time in the NICU. He was sent home two nights ago so we could spend time with him as he passes.
    My daughter, son, and the baby are all innocent victims here, however we’ve been blessed with being in Gods family a long time, and we know he will see us through.when troubled times come we need to cling to God, he is our rock, and our refuge from the storms.

  10. Hello Intendedforpleasure,
    Sad to read of dear baby ‘Anthony’ (forgive me if I have gotten his name wrong..can’t find our older messages about his prayer needs).
    I have placed my so-called mountaineering rope miniature back with my prayer reminders and will begin to seriously support your daughter, her husband and the little one for the remainder of this week ( longer if I can remember to-so much to pray for that I get overloaded if I am not careful)
    Remember the power and peace which comes through singing praises in your heart before the Lord. It is one of the most difficult things to do so I know it is asking a lot yet God inhabits the praises of His people that many battles may be won.
    I’ll join you in singing over your loved ones as I watch my little ones play outside this afternoon.

  11. The story of Tamar has long bothered me .

    There are some facts that are missing here in the discussion though. Leviticus 20 and Dueteronomy 22 both addres this issue. Ammon’s choices were vry clear and the penalties for violating them were also clear. He was to take her for his wife, period. Extra biblical sources say her father had the right to have him executed also.
    As well, EX 34:6-7 reminds us that during that time God would not clear away guilt but would pay it forward on the family of the guilty.

    It is not that God was insensitive to women. All through the law are passages concerning women and the rightful treatment there of. It is less that God had not made provisions for women as a concession to culture but that he was changing the culture through His laws. Looking into the Jewish books omitted from the “Bible” you find many instances where God directly interveened for women. there are those instances in our accepted books of scripture.
    the bigger issue here is that David did a piss poor job of raising his sons, applying the laws fairly and paying closer attention to the sexual behaviors in his household.
    Through the whole thing I have always reguarded Absolam with the most respect of any in the story. Though he was a jerk to her feelings, he did let her know that if non else would deal with the situation he would. Although his method did nothing for Tamar, he did exact vengance on Ammon.

    I also realize that vengence doesn’t bring back virginity. This is also the point behind the fines and disciplinary measures in the law.

  12. I realize that virginity was not necesarily seen like this in the Bible times, but I believe that you have two virginities: your physical virginity and your heart virginity. Often, ,people give both, as I did, at the same time. Other times, like in my sister’s case (she was raped), she may not have her physical virginity
    but as far as I’m concerned she is a virgin, because it was not something her heart wanted

    so it’s things like this that make things like this so hard for me….how, especially in Bible times (although now too) that women who are raped or forced to have sex are considered unclean, even if it wasn’t their choice

  13. Thank you for this Bible Study. Being a father and a husband I need ed to hear it .
    You are so right when you say where was her fatehr or brothers?
    We men need to hear this then teach our sons to protect our sisters We husbands need to also learn to protect our wifes, Gen 3.
    Thankyou for your insite.
    Doug

  14. I have endured a sexual assault from a family member that left me traumatized; I blocked out a large portion of the assault. I was assaulted by this family member when he came for a visit. I was 12 years old. He had been making unwanted advances toward me during his visit but when I told my parents, they excused his behavior and allowed me to be left home alone with him for several hours. That’s when the tramatic assault took place. It wasn’t until after the assault that my mother believed me but my father did not. The only thing they did was not allow him to be around me again.

    Fast forward 23 years. I was saved at age 23 and God began transforming my life. Through this transformation, God has healed me. I am no longer a survivor. I am now an overcomer! I am not used-up trash. I am a daughter of the Most High King and He is my Abba (Daddy)! I have a new identity in Christ and I am now FREE to be all God created me to be. NOTHING can hold me back.

    Where was God that day I was being assaulted? He was there with me. He was covering my mind with His hands, blocking out the worse of it. My block-out has been a blessing to me. Through all of this, I have forgiven this man who is now dead and burning in Hell (I am sad to say). I have forgiven my parents and hold nothing against them anymore. And as a result, God has used my story to encourage others and offer hope that they too can overcome because Jesus has overcome the world.

  15. Wow what a testimony! Thanks for sharing that. It is through him we can overcome anything-your proof of that! “Blessed be the name of the Lord”

  16. The story of Dinah, is a similar one to that ot Tamar, Davids Daughter. In both Cases, Ive noticed that The Fathers did nothing and the brothers got angry and committed murder. I believe The brothers today are angry because of what has happened to their sisters. Our fathers needs to, but has always refused to deal with outrageous violent crimes against their daughters and and for this reason God will vindicate His Daughters. Even as he did for Tamar – Judah’s daughter in law. The Bible says that Her husbands did evil against her and God killed them. The Lord Loves His Ladies and will defend them…….We must continue to plead their cause.

  17. Debbie

    Thank you for sharing your testimony. I was raped at the age of 19 (10 years ago). I have been saved my entire life but I was out of fellowship with the Lord at that time. in 2002 I rededicated my life to Christ and started going to counseling. I feel in love with Jesus and I regained my peace, self esteem and confidence. God is forever faithful and He gets all the glory. I LOVE your statement “Where was God that day that I was being assaulted? He was there with me.” So very true!! He never left! He was protecting us, still is. I too have memories of the assault still blocked from my mind and I feel that it is a blessing also. I have been married for 2 years and our sex life gets better each time we come together. I made a decision that I would seek counsel and allow God to restore me BEFORE I got married so that my marriage bed would not be a place of pain or fear but of love, intimancy and safety. God answered my prayer. My mother in law was raped when my husband was younger therefore he has such passion and patience with me. God knew what man of God to send me. Just wanted to share. God bless you.

  18. Thank you, Joanna, for your powerful testimony and encouragement!! Praise God for making beauty from ashes!! And I am SO glad He gave you an understanding husband:-) God bless you too!!

    Your Sister In Christ,
    Debbie


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