2 Samuel 13
As the remainder of David’s life unfolds in the book of 2 Samuel, the narrative is filled will examples of how Nathan’s prophecies about David and his family are fulfilled. The record states that one of David’s sons, Amnon, loved his beautiful half-sister, Tamar, who was the sister of Absalom (2 Samuel 13:1-2). When Amnon’s friend and cousin Jonadab suggested he fake an illness to entrap Tamar, Amnon agrees and rapes her. Tamar resists Amnon’s advances saying, “Speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee” (2 Samuel 13:13). Marriage between children of the same father was strictly forbidden (Leviticus 18:9). It is worthy to note that Tamar may have assumed that David might circumvent the law. Could Tamar have thought that David’s breaking of the law with respect to Bathsheba might influence his judgment?
Ann Madsen made this observation:
One wonders if the Bathsheba incident influenced her judgment of what David might do. The sin of the father had its effects in the lives of his children. All of the participants in this tragic drama were blood relations and perhaps were influenced by David’s adultery with Bathsheba. One could also ask the question, Why would a careful father grant a son’s request which had obvious inherent pitfalls? Through the ages many guilt-ridden parents have indulged their children in a mistaken attempt to win back their love and loyalty. (Studies in Scripture: Volume 3 Genesis to 2 Samuel, Salt Lake City, UT; Deseret Book, 1989, p. 308.)
This story illustrates the train of consequences brought about by not only David’s sin, but Amnon’s as well. Amnon caused such pain in the family that Absalom reacts by taking Amnon’s life. Amnon’s behavior sets up a chain reaction in the family that fulfilled the prophecy of Nathan whereby he said, “the sword shall never depart from thine house…” (2 Samuel 12:10)
David’s response to the abuse
Upon hearing of the events surrounding Tamar’s rape, David does nothing. The text reads, “when David heard of all these things, he was very wroth” (2 Samuel 13:21). Okay. So he was mad… so what? What does he do? Perhaps he saw the connection between his behavior and the behavior of his son. How could he possibly counsel his son on appropriate conduct when he himself was such a horrible example?
We spent some time in class discussing the fact that one day my students will be parents raising teenagers. Their teenage sons and daughters will be asking them what choices they made in high school. They will be better prepared to raise their children if they make correct choices now while they are young. Their words will have more of an effect because they are true to what they are trying to teach.
A current illustration of this principle was brought to my attention from the world of college basketball. Fans of the Kansas State University basketball team have been embarrassing their institution through their profanity laden cheers during games. When thousands of K-state fans join together in unison to express their dislike of the referees, or the other team, their swearing has caused regents of the university grief.
The problem with telling the fans not to swear is that their head coach, Frank Martin, is known to use profanity to get his point across from time to time. So Coach Martin has decided that if he wants the students of K-state to stop using profanity in their cheers, then he must start by changing his behavior. Yesterday Frank Martin issued the following statement:
“None of us are perfect. I continue to work at correcting the mistakes I have made. Moreover, I have done things I wish I could take back. However, in life you can’t go backwards but you can always get better from the lessons. One thing that I have worked hard at improving is the language that I use at games and eliminating these moments. I cannot allow my competitiveness to blind me from the fact that I represent you, the great students of a university of higher education. As a father, and an educator, there is no place for this at any event in which I am representing K-State.” (see: http://es.pn/yB6JSJ or http://bit.ly/xUKwce )
What we should do
The scriptures give us direction on how to handle difficult situations. 2 Samuel 13 deals with a difficult but very real situation many people face. While we would not apply Absalom’s solution to the problem in our lives, we do see in another scriptural text an answer to how to deal with abuse.
In the Book of Mormon (Alma 50) we see an illustration of how to handle an abusive situation. In this chapter we have a servant girl of Morianton who is abused. From the text we read:
“but behold, Morianton being a man of much passion, therefore he was angry with one of his maid servants, and he fell upon her and beat her much. And it came to pass that she fled, and came over to the camp of Moroni, and told Moroni all things concerning the matter, and also concerning their intentions to flee into the land northward” (Alma 50:30-31).
This servant girl did exactly what someone needs to do should they find themselves in an abusive circumstance. She got out of danger and immediately related what happened to her priesthood leader. Although we do not have the rest of the story of her life, I am of the opinion that Moroni did all he could to serve and protect her from future harm (see Alma 50:35-36). It is important to teach the youth that their bishops will help them should they find themselves in these types of situations.
Elder Richard G. Scott has given direction to those dealing with abusive conditions. From his instruction we read:
If you are now or have in the past been abused, seek help now. Perhaps you distrust others and feel that there is no reliable help anywhere. Begin with your Eternal Father and his beloved Son, your Savior. Strive to comprehend their commandments and follow them. They will lead you to others who will strengthen and encourage you. There is available to you a priesthood leader, normally a bishop, at times a member of the stake presidency. They can build a bridge to greater understanding and healing. Joseph Smith taught: “A man can do nothing for himself unless God direct him in the right way; and the Priesthood is for that purpose.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 364.)
Talk to your bishop in confidence. His calling allows him to act as an instrument of the Lord in your behalf. He can provide a doctrinal foundation to guide you to recovery. An understanding and application of eternal law will provide the healing you require. He has the right to be inspired of the Lord in your behalf. He can use the priesthood to bless you.
Your bishop can help you identify trustworthy friends to support you. He will help you regain self-confidence and self-esteem to begin the process of renewal. When abuse is extreme, he can help you identify appropriate protection and professional treatment consistent with the teachings of the Savior. (Richard G. Scott, “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Ensign, May 1992, 31. see also: http://bit.ly/wTnCrI )