King David’s decline began one afternoon. The army was away fighting against Ammon and David who was supposed to be leading them, is at home relaxing. At home out of his palace window, he notices Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah-his next-door neighbor, bathing on the roof and likes what he sees! As William Blake reminded us, “The naked woman’s body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man.”
So David then breaks five of the Ten Commandments within a very short time. He covets his Uriah’s wife, he bears false witness against him, he steals his wife, he commits adultery with her and finally arranges the murder of Uriah. It is a terrible story and from that moment the nation of Israel declines. Over the next 500 years they lost everything that God gave them.
King David had many sons from different wives. Two of these sons were his eldest Amnon, and Absalom his third born son. Now Absalom had a beautiful and virgin sister named Tamar. And Amnon lustfully and obsessively fell in love in her to the point that he feigned an illness. After listening to his cousin Jonadab’s advice, he then decided to do a very a wicked thing to his half sister Tamar.
He pretended to be sick and asked his father David to send Tamar to serve him food. When she came, he seduced her but she refused, and when all attempts to seduce her failed, he told his servants to leave and he raped her. Then his desire for her became distasteful and he humiliated her. Why did he loath her?
Whether we admit it or not, we feel a great of amount of guilt after we’ve had immoral sex. Some people even begin to hate their sexual partners, by not wanting to see them anymore. That is why we hear cases where men use other women sexually and then murder them. Our bodies were not made for sexual immorality. When you engage in illegitimate sex, the guilty conscience bothers you that you broke God’s laws and it is then translated into your body.
According to scientists, we have no enzymes or chemicals in the body to handle guilt. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, that can set us free from this guilt of sin. So maybe that’s why Amnon felt extreme disgust for his half sister after raping her and committing incest.
Her brother Absalom was outraged by the wickedness of Amnon. He deeply hated his half brother for defiling her sister. He brought her sister Tamar into his home and provided for her. So Tamar lived as a desolate woman in her brother’s house. She once wore the royal robes reserved for the virgin daughters of the king; now she was living in shame.
Her chances of marriage were destroyed because she was no longer a virgin. Who would want to take as a wife when she was no longer a virgin? It was very heartbreaking for young girl once esteemed by her people to be living a life of isolation; yet the man who had committed this terrible sin was living as if nothing happened.
Absalom tried to comfort her and persuade her not to take this matter to heart. He then waited silently for two years hoping that King David would execute discipline and justice on Amnon but nothing was done through the king; though he was angry with Amnon for raping Tamar, he did not punish him. Absalom was extremely disappointed.
Meanwhile, Absalom was secretly planning to take revenge against Amnon. He went as far as making a feast and inviting all the king’s sons to a feast including the king and his servants but the king declined. Well, then, Absalom said if you cannot come, how about sending my brother Amnon with us?” Why should he go with you? But Absalom urged him, and he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him. (2 Samuel 13:26-27)
So Absalom prepared a feast fit for a king and waited until his brother had got drunk and ordered his men to murder him. When he killed him he fled to his grandfather king Talmai in Geshur. His vengeance against his brother was satisfied.
However, the bitterness he harbored against toward his father for not punishing Absalom became stronger while in exile. To add insult to injury, Absolom spent three years in Geshur and wondered why his father hadn’t sent for him. Although King David got reconciled to Amnon’s death, he longed to be re-united with his son Absalom.
When the King ordered Joab to bring back his son, he never wanted his son to come into his presence. He was only allowed to go to his own house. So Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years, but he never got to see the King. Then Absolom sent for Joab to ask him to beseech the king for him, but Joab refused to come. And he sent for him the second time, but again Joab refused to come.
All these offences eventually turned to hatred and bitterness towards his father. Eventually, David summoned Absalom who came and bowed low before the king, and the king kissed him. But the bitterness and hatred for his father grew and this hatred began to attract him to those who had similar feelings towards his father.
Absalom’s revenge against Amnon and rebellion against David was the beginning of the final decline of David’s kingdom which Nathan had prophesied in (2 Samuel 12:10-12). The sword never departed his house. Absalom gained popularity with the people that David is forced to leave Jerusalem and once again he finds himself in exile.
By killing his half brother Amnon, Absalom got revenge for the rape of his sister Tamar, as well as getting rid of the first born son, the one who would have been next in line to the throne.
In accordance with a prophecy made by Nathan, Absalom parades David’s wives on the palace roof and has sex with them in public view. Subsequently, Joab kills Absalom in battle, but David is distraught, wishing that he should have died instead of his son. Sin has consequences. It seems clear that David’s immoral behavior became a catalyst for all the problems in his family.
So what do we learn from this story? David was guilty of a similar sin in his adultery with Bathsheba. While David was a man after God’s heart, a king and very effective military leader, he lacked skill and sensitivity as a husband and father.
He failed to train or discipline his children. Although he found out and was angry with Amnon’s actions, he did nothing. Amnon just like just the rest of his siblings was a child out of control. Without discipline and direction, his actions led to self-destruction. As parents we contribute good and evil by action or inaction in our children’s lives.
David failed to teach his children God’s ways. Even if our children are raised in church, we must teach and exemplify character and obedience to God. It’s quite possible that David became too preoccupied with governing, his wives and concubines to act appropriately by dealing with evil in his family.
Maybe the guilt of his sin caused him to decline in disciplining his children who were caught in similar sins. The first lesson to learn from this tragedy is that children who have everything often lack purpose and direction in their lives.
If we are to raise our children successfully, we must combine love with discipline. The way to produce unhappy, frustrated children is to spoil them by giving them all they ask for, doing everything they want and succumbing to every demand.
When raised with kid gloves, children will, when they grow up, expect life to treat them the same way their parents did. But life is pretty tough! I have found that out the hard way, and I have observed the lives of many people whose parents treated them with unscriptural self-indulgence and I would say that, in varying degrees, they have all had difficult lives.
To spoil your children is not kindness or love. The most unhappy and unfulfilled children are the ones with no discipline in their lives. It was Spurgeon who wrote:
If you want to ruin your children, never let them know hardship. If you want to prevent them from ever being useful, guard them from every kind of work and do not let them struggle. Pity them when they should be punished, supply all their wishes, avert all their disappointments. Prevent all trouble, and you will surely train them to break your heart. If you put them where they must work, expose them to difficulties, purposely throw them into peril, then you will make them mature and ready for life.
Without anyone else to keep David’s children in check, they all probably did whatever they wanted without considering the consequences of their actions. Could Absalom and Tamar’s life have ended differently if their father had punished Amnon of his sin? Certainly.
Fathers are to urge and warn their children to live righteously. Lack of discipline to children brings dishonor and disrespect. It is the father’s responsibility to warn his children of the consequences of disobeying God’s commandments.
The Bible says, He who spares his rod [of discipline] hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines diligently and punishes him early. (Proverbs 13:24)
David’s mistakes were reflected in the lives of his children. All the family turmoil could have been avoided had David honored his children by bringing godly discipline to them. Did David learn anything from all this experience? Absolutely!
When he was instructing his son Solomon after the Lord has chosen him to build the Temple from among all and to be king over Israel, he told Solomon to be completely open with God and dedicated to Him. He gave him principles to guide him through life something he should have done with other children. He said:
Now therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, keep and seek [to be familiar with] all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever.
And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father [have personal knowledge of Him, be acquainted with, and understand Him; appreciate, heed, and cherish Him] and serve Him with a blameless heart and a willing mind.
For the Lord searches all hearts and minds and understands all the wanderings of the thoughts. If you seek Him [inquiring for and of Him and requiring Him as your first and vital necessity] you will find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever! (1 Chronicles 28:8-10 AMP)
David was telling Solomon all this, but as Solomon grew in power, notoriety and personal greatness, he forgot his fathers’ instructions and he set himself up as privileged to ignore God.
Back to the point of parents dishonoring their children by withholding discipline, I need to emphasize that for me personally, it is real and very painful. I have seen first-hand how my loved ones have experienced many hard times because they didn’t receive godly discipline. Some were rebellious, disrespectful, and their attitude spread over into every area involving authority figures including the parents themselves.
Surprisingly, the response of these children who were “loved” rather than disciplined was to despise their parents. The parents were trying to win their children’s love, but this backfired as the very opposite happened. These children who are now grown-ups made very bad choices that have proved costly to them and the family for many years to come.
Had they received proper discipline and training earlier in their lives as the Bible admonishes, most of these problems would have been avoided. This story also demonstrates the principle that sin, division and strife in any leader’s home leads to decline of the family, nation or the church. Many of us can testify to this sad truth.
None of us can be a good parent by any stretch of the imagnation. In fact, personally I’ve failed many times to be a father. I’ve sinned again and again and fallen short of the glory of God. As I’ve mentioned previously, parenting is very hard and there no formulas for being a good parent. There are times when you don’t feel equal at all to the responsibility of being a parent, when you’ve exhausted all your patience and resources.
It is at these times that you have to depend on the Holy Spirit to do what is otherwise impossible for you. The good news is, the Lord convicts us of our sins, not to condemn us, but to direct us to the remedy He has provided for us through the sacrifce of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Image description: The Banquet of Absalom attributed to Niccolò de Simone around 1650, Source: Wikipedia