Who’s Your Daddy?
Who’s your daddy? Was your dad a kind man? Was he loving and attentive? Was he a godly man? Or, was he inattentive, distant, or absent? Was he abusive? Do you even know your daddy? Can you imagine your dad being a king? What could be better than living in a palace, wearing gorgeous gowns, and being treated like a princess?
In this study, we are going to examine the life of a young princess named Tamar. Her daddy is King David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). He is the man who wrote many of the psalms, including Psalm 23 and Psalm 139. Her daddy killed Goliath. Can you imagine being a little girl playing with your friends when a disagreement arises about whose daddy is the strongest? “Well my daddy killed Goliath!” That would stop the argument.
Despite all his wonderful accomplishments, David is an imperfect and inattentive father. He fails his daughter miserably. He is not only an inattentive father, he also “unknowingly becomes a facilitator of rape” (Wolpe 91). In 2 Samuel 13, we read the disturbing story of Tamar’s rape by her half-brother Amnon. Find this passage in your Bible and read verses one through twenty-two.
David Wolpe describes the moment Amnon grabs Tamar as the moment that will have endless unfolding consequences for David, for Israel, and for Jewish history (91). That moment leads to heartbreak, murder, and rebellion. Many times the ripple effects of sin quickly rush into a tsunami of pain and regret. After raping Tamar, Amnon not only throws Tamar out, he refers to her as “this woman” and makes it appear as if she is to blame for his actions (2 Samuel 13:17). When Tamar runs to her brother Absalom, he tells her to hold her peace or be quiet (2 Sam 13:20). When David hears about what happened, he is furious but does nothing. Her daddy, the most powerful man in the kingdom, does nothing for his daughter. “As father, David is required to act on behalf of his daughter; as king, he is obligated to uphold the laws of Israel” (Brouer 12). But, he does absolutely nothing.
Several emotions bubble up inside of us as we read this passage. We feel a mixture of anger, frustration, and even disgust. Some of us may question God and ask why he would allow something so horrendous to happen to David’s daughter. We are angry at Amnon. We are angry at Absalom for telling Tamar to keep quiet. Then our anger turns toward David. I have found myself yelling at David.
“How could you turn your back on your own daughter?”
“Don’t you love her? Don’t you care about her pain and humiliation?”
“Why don’t you do something?”
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God placed this story in Scripture for a reason. “The biblical writers have honored and preserved [Tamar’s] voice for those willing to listen” (Brouer 12). We must put our anger and disgust aside so that we can open our ears to hear Tamar’s voice of courage and wisdom. Throughout her horrifying ordeal and even in her life of desolation, Tamar remained a daughter of King David. Despite her bruised and broken body, despite her shattered dreams, she was still a princess.
Many Christian women are living in desolation because we have believed the lies of Satan and our abusers. We live in shame, fear, and condemnation forgetting that we are daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords. Some of us have been abused by family members; some of us have become prisoners of our own mistakes. We believe we are worthless and undeserving of anything good or decent. We have no idea the meaning of an abundant life in Christ. Shame and fear chain us in a prison of hopelessness.
Are you one of these women? Do you glance longingly from your isolation wondering what it would be like to feel the warmth of God’s love on your face? Are you listening to the unending recording of “what ifs” that keep spinning through your mind? What if I had fought harder? What if I had screamed louder? What if I had told someone? What if I had tried to be perfect? What if I had made a different choice?
As we examine Tamar’s situation, we also ask “what if” questions. What if Jonadab had never given advice to Amnon? What if David had never allowed Tamar to visit Amnon? What if the servants had tried to protect Tamar? What if David had punished Amnon? What if David had gone to Tamar and comforted her? What if Absalom and David had worked together to bring about justice? We could go on and on. “Clearly, each of the male characters, whether it be David, Amnon, Jonadab, the servants or Absalom, plays a role in the rape of Tamar, though their roles are different” (West 38).
Our lesson today will concentrate on the one male character that was more powerful than the others: Tamar’s father, King David. We will examine whether David as king could have restored Tamar to her rightful place as a princess within the palace.
The passage in 2 Samuel 13 clearly states that David was furious when he heard of what had happened to Tamar (21). Unfortunately, the passage does not clarify why he is angry. We would assume David is angry because his daughter was violated. But, is it possible he is angry because he has been duped by this nephew and son? Is it also possible he is angry to discover that his son is just like him? (Van Seters 302-203). (See 2 Samuel 11 for the story of David’s adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah).
Whatever the reason for his anger, David chooses to do nothing. There is speculation among some Bible scholars as to whether David’s guilt over his adultery and Uriah’s murder may have contributed to his decision not to help Tamar (Wiersbe 577). David’s unwillingness to interfere in the lives of his children is an example of his inability to make difficult choices relating to his family (Solvang 149). We may have a difficult time trying to reconcile how David could have been such a powerful king and yet weak and ineffective as a father. How could the passionate author of many of the psalms be so emotionally detached from his daughter? Or is it possible that he is so emotionally invested that his emotions are what paralyze him?
As we examine David’s ability to restore his daughter, we must consider the culture of that time and just how important virginity was to a young unmarried woman. According to Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and 22:28-29, there were terrible consequences to a daughter who was not a virgin when she married (Esler 344). When Amnon asked Tamar to have sex with him, she tried to dissuade him by suggesting that he ask the king, their father, to allow them to marry. There is some question as to whether David could have allowed this union since there are passages that forbid sexual relations between half-siblings (Lev 18:9, 11; 20:17; Deut 27:22).
Driven by lust, Amnon does not listen to his sister. Yet after her rape, Tamar does not remain silent. As she lies there, broken and bruised, she wonders what is going to happen to her. What Amnon does next causes even greater distress for Tamar. “And Amnon said to her ‘Get up! Go!’ But she said to him, ‘No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.’ But he would not listen to her” (ESV 2 Sam 13:15-16). The greater wrong of which she speaks is the social consequence if Amnon does not marry her (Esler 346).
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 indicates that a man who rapes a virgin is required to marry her and never send her away. This idea may cause us to cringe, but keep in mind that the culture at that time was very different than it is today. Amnon actually violated Tamar twice: first by rape and then by throwing her out like trash.
He called the young man who served him and said, ‘Put this woman
out of my presence and bolt the door after her.’ Now she was wearing
a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king
dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.
And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore.
And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she
went (2 Sam 13:17-19).
Tamar never went back to the royal palace. As far as we know, she could not return to the palace because she was an outcast. “For the palace contained the king, his wives, their unmarried daughters, together with small children. The daughters still there were waiting for their father to secure honorable marriages for them, leading to the production of children, who would make their lives complete” (Esler 349). Since Tamar is no longer a virgin, it is highly unlikely that any man will want to marry her. Instead of returning to the palace, she lives in Absalom’s house.
David could have punished Amnon. Greenberg writes, “[A] king’s job is to administer justice and the failure to punish serious wrongdoing undermines confidence in the king. If the king won’t do justice within his own personal family, how can he be expected to do justice with his political family, the people of Israel and Judah?” (161). Again, David decided to do nothing.
I have been unable to locate any documentation or research that specifically addresses whether David could have restored Tamar. I personally believe that David could have brought his daughter back into the palace. She would not have been able to live among the virgin princesses. Yet bringing her back under his wing could have restored some of her dignity. I base my conclusion upon the compassion David showed to one of Saul’s grandsons.
After David was crowned king over all Israel, he searched for any remaining members of Saul’s family upon whom he could shower kindness. Second Samuel 9 tells the story of how David found one of Saul’s grandsons, Jonathan’s son, named Mephibosheth. The passage details the circumstances through which Mephibosheth became lame. David not only brought Mephibosheth into the palace, he unofficially adopted him by restoring to him the lands that had once belonged to his grandfather Saul. “David took him into his own family, provided for him, protected him, and let him eat from his own table” (Wiersbe 569). David showed compassion and conveyed restoration upon a member of Saul’s family. He could have shown the same compassion and restoration to his own daughter. He could have brought her back into the palace and sat her at his table.
The problem is he didn’t. Tamar’s brother Absalom did take her into his own home, and as far as we know, that is where she lived until she died. One thing is clear; David was an imperfect man. With all his power and riches, he failed as a father.
Our Heavenly Father is not like David; our Father is perfect. He heals the pain, and He repairs our brokenness. No matter whom our abuser may be and no matter what type of abuse we have suffered, our status as daughters of the King does not change. David was a man after God’s own heart, but he was imperfect, just as our own fathers.
Our Heavenly Father has redeemed and restored us through the blood of His only son Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:7). Although we may not always feel as if we are restored, our feelings have no impact on the truth. Do you ever stop to think that as far as God is concerned, you are already sitting with Him in His palace in heaven?
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-7 emphasis mine).
In future lessons, we will continue to examine Tamar’s story and learn how to help others heal from abuse. As we close today, please keep in mind that Tamar was not forgotten once the author of 2 Samuel set his quill aside. She is mentioned again in 1 Chronicles 3:9, “All these were David’s sons, beside the sons of the concubines, and Tamar was their sister.” If you have studied the Old Testament very much, you know that listing females within genealogy is very unusual. What I find most fascinating is the timeframe in which this occurs. Many believe 2 Samuel was written between 930 and 722 B.C., and 1 Chronicles was likely written around the end of 500 B.C. That means Tamar is being written about between 200 or 400 years later.
The princess who was silenced and lived in desolation after her rape and rejection is not forgotten. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, her voice continues to cry out across the generations.
You may be here today crying out for justice. Sadly, you may never see justice in this life. Whether justice comes or not, if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are redeemed and restored through his blood. Our physical bodies may be marred; our reputations may be tarnished; our emotional scars may run deep, but our Daddy redeems, restores, and heals.
Who’s your daddy?
When I start listening to Satan’s lies about my identity, I love listening to the words of this song by King & County because I can hear my Heavenly Father singing over me:
Mirror, Mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are
It might be hard to hear
But let me tell you, dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
This isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are
So when it’s late
You’re wide awake
Too much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave
Hear me say
I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless
No matter what you’ve heard
This is what you’re worth
More than the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh, this is who you are
Yeah, this is who you are (Priceless by King & Country).
If you need prayer or guidance in overcoming the effects of abuse, please send me a private email in the Contact Us section, email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Brouer, Deirdre Brouer. “Tamar’s Voice of Wisdom and Outrage in 2 Samuel 13.” Priscilla Papers, Autumn 2014.
Esler, Philip Francis. Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Old Testament Narrative with Its Ancient Audience. James James Clarke & Co, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=3328533.
Greenberg, Gary. [TS5] The Sins of King David: A New History. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Inc. 2002.
King & County. Priceless. Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, Fervent Records/Word, September 2014.
Solvang, Elna K.. A Woman's Place Is in the House: Royal Women of Judah and Their Involvement in the House of David. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=436925
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. Crossway, 2001.
Van Seters, John. The Biblical Saga of King David. Eisenbrauns, 2009 ProQuest Ebook Central
Wiersbe, Warren. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Old Testament. David C. Cook, 2007.
West, Garald, et al. “Rape in the House of David: The Biblical Story of Tamar as a Resource for Transformation.” Agenda: Empowering Women for Gender Equality, No. 61, Religion & Spirituality, 2004.
Wolpe, David. David: The Divided Heart. Yale University Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/liberty/detail.action?docID=3421468.
Kathy Garrett McInnis