Similar to Dinah‘s story, Tamar’s story is another unfortunate and hard-to-read part in the Bible. As horrible as it is to be sexually assaulted by a stranger, Tamar’s situation is made a hundred times worse because she was violated by a family member. Her brother Amnon, who was supposed to protect her, ended up hurting her.
2 Samuel 13:1-20 gives us the full account of how it happened. This Scripture passage makes for a disturbing read, but one reason we know the Bible is God’s Word is because it tells the whole truth – the good, the bad, the ugly. Many people don’t want to talk about, hear, or accept the truth because the truth is often ugly. But one ugly truth we need to talk about is Tamar’s story that repeats itself every day over and over again in the lives of thousands of girls around the world.
If we don’t talk about it and even more so if we don’t do something about it, relationships will continue to be torn apart, and innocent hearts will continue to be shattered. Rape forces too many children to grow up before their time under the weight of a dirty burden no one should ever have to bear. CDC statistics show:
- 42.2% of female rape victims were first raped before age 18
- 29.9% of female rape victims were first raped between the ages of 11-17
- 12.3% of female rape victims were first raped when they were age 10 or younger
All too often, the perpetrators of these rape crimes are not strangers. They are coaches, teachers, pastors, friends, and family members. Statistics on this show that among female rape victims, perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners (51.1%), acquaintances (40.8%), family members (12.5%) and strangers (13.8%). The unfortunate fact that Tamar’s story is nothing new shows how we can still learn from it today.
1. Tamar cared for others despite her high rank. Tamar was one of King David’s daughters which made her a princess. There is no doubt that she had lovely living quarters, servants to tend her at her beck and call, and the finest of clothes. But when David found out that Amnon was “sick” and David (innocently) asked Tamar to go to Amnon and make some food for him, she went and did as asked. Tamar did not think she was too important to help someone else. Even though she probably had others to cook for her, Tamar had not forgotten how to whip up cakes herself. In a story as dark as this one, we find a thin ray of light.
We too are King’s daughters, but our royal positions in Christ should not make us think that caring for the least of these is somehow below us. Caring for the sick and poor, cooking for those who can’t, and cleaning for those who won’t is the work of great ladies. As is often the case, Tamar’s genuine kindness led to her getting hurt. However, we cannot let the wicked thoughts and intentions of others hold us back from doing good.
2. Tamar’s beauty was a snare to her. This is not an excuse letting Amnon off the hook for what he did. Good looks often breed lust which is what Amnon had for Tamar even though he pretended it was love. As women, we need to be aware of our unique looks. There is no need for us to be ashamed of them because God made us, but we don’t have to flaunt it either.
The beauty God has given us ought to be appreciated, not assaulted. Because our world is broken, and humans (without Christ) are corrupted, we need to be on guard against those who seek to disrespect what should be respected and abuse what should be loved.
3. Tamar was a victim to lust, not love. As mentioned above Amnon did not really love Tamar. He lusted after her until he thought he could no longer live without her. This was wrong first of all because they were related by blood. It is unnatural and ungodly for relatives to desire one another.
We need to be careful about people why say they love us. Do they love us for what we can give them or do for them or do they love us for who God made us? If we refuse to satisfy their lusts will they continue to love us? In most cases, the answer is no. As soon as Amnon got what he thought he wanted from Tamar, 2 Samuel 13:15 says, “Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
Many people say “I love you” to have their lusts satisfied and forcefully take what they want. Ask God to give you discernment to know what is true love and lust so you want fall victim to the latter.
4. Tamar suffered for someone else’s sin. Like Dinah, Tamar is not mentioned again in the Bible. The end of her story leaves her living desolate in the house of her other brother, Absalom. Rape victims often feel like they are to blame for the violation that took place. Many live the rest of their lives in grief, pain, and brokenness because of the sin of someone else. Others commit suicide when it is the perpetrator’s life that should be ended.
Most women do not tell they have been raped for fear society will look down on them when it is the rapist who should be seen as worthless. Those who do tell are sometimes blamed or disbelieved. If this is the case, comfort can be found in Jesus’ words from Mark 4:22: “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”
The eyes of God sees all – every evil work, every sin, every abuse, every violation, every unjust crime. He will not remain silent forever. Evil will be punished. Every victim will see justice. Those who have been hurt can find freedom, peace, and rest in Jesus from the sins of others.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.
– Psalm 34:18
God is the God of and for those who labor and are heavy laden.
– James Cone