November 3, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Healing for the Wounded”

2 Samuel 13:1-18

In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David. 2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her. 3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” 5 “Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat. “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. 15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!” 16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.” But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her.

While tuning into the news can often be disheartening, a recent encouraging trend has been the “#Me Too” movement. In October 2017, aided by several celebrities, the “#Me Too” went viral to display the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment. This movement eventually led to the dismissals of accused perpetrators such as former producer Harvey Weinstein and U.S. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.

While popular culture has only begun to address these tragedies, the reality that survivors of sexual assault face is not ignored in the Bible.  In 2 Samuel 13, we read about how Tamar, a daughter of King David, was brutally taken advantage of by a man who was supposed to protect her, her brother Amnon. Like most victims, Tamar had no desire for such an encounter (v.12), had her refusals ignored (vv.13-14) and was physically overpowered (v.14). After the rape, Tamar was cast aside as if what had happened was her fault (vv.15-18).

Understandably, Tamar displayed a tremendous amount of grief after this traumatic encounter (v.19). Unfortunately, her brother Absalom instructed her to be silent, and her father, while furious, did not display justice (v.21), an experience all too common for survivors of sexual abuse. The last mention of Tamar in the Bible was that she lived “in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman” (v.20). Perhaps Tamar lamented, for the rest of her life, that her family viewed her to be of lesser importance than protecting their reputation.

For those of us who have faced any kind of abuse, there are no words that can properly address the grief and loss you have endured. While I cannot imagine what you have experienced, I do know that our God is the healer of the brokenhearted and is able and willing to walk through the pain with you. For those of us walking alongside friends or siblings with such stories, we have been entrusted to have great empathy and wisdom. No matter where we are in life, may we live in light of the Cross, which displays that God Himself did not ignore, but rather endured our pain.  

Prayer: Father, in the midst of the sin in us and in the world, we pray that Your light will shine through, even in the darkest areas.  As Christ implored us to pray that Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, we pray that Your healing and justice would continue to be made manifest in our world—not only when You return, but also in the present. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: John 1-2

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