Thursday after the Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Samuel 13-15 (NKJV)
13:1 After this Absalom the son of David had a lovely sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.
2 Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her.
3 But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Now Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4 And he said to him, “Why are you, the king’s son, becoming thinner day after day? Will you not tell me?”
Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”
5 So Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Please let my sister Tamar come and give me food, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.'”
6 Then Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let Tamar my sister come and make a couple of cakes for me in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.”
7 And David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Now go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house; and he was lying down. Then she took flour and kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. 9 And she took the pan and placed them out before him, but he refused to eat.
Then Amnon said, “Have everyone go out from me.” And they all went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the bedroom, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them to Amnon her brother in the bedroom. 11 Now when she had brought them to him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.”
12 And she answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me, for no such thing should be done in Israel. Do not do this disgraceful thing! 13 And I, where could I take my shame? And as for you, you would be like one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.
15 Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!”
16 So she said to him, “No, indeed! This evil of sending me away is worse than the other that you did to me.”
But he would not listen to her. 17 Then he called his servant who attended him, and said, “Here! Put this woman out, away from me, and bolt the door behind her.” 18 Now she had on a robe of many colors, for the king’s virgin daughters wore such apparel. And his servant put her out and bolted the door behind her. 19 Then Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly.
20 And Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this thing to heart.” So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom’s house.
21 But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 22 And Absalom spoke to his brother Amnon neither good nor bad. For Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.
23 And it came to pass, after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal Hazor, which is near Ephraim; so Absalom invited all the king’s sons. 24 Then Absalom came to the king and said, “Kindly note, your servant has sheepshearers; please, let the king and his servants go with your servant.”
25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go now, lest we be a burden to you.” Then he urged him, but he would not go; and he blessed him.
26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.”
And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom urged him; so he let Amnon and all the king’s sons go with him.
28 Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, “Watch now, when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon!’ then kill him. Do not be afraid. Have I not commanded you? Be courageous and valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and each one got on his mule and fled.
30 And it came to pass, while they were on the way, that news came to David, saying, “Absalom has killed all the king’s sons, and not one of them is left!” 31 So the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the ground, and all his servants stood by with their clothes torn.
32 Then Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David’s brother, answered and said, “Let not my lord suppose they have killed all the young men, the king’s sons, for only Amnon is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore, let not my lord the king take the thing to his heart, to think that all the king’s sons are dead. For only Amnon is dead.”
34 Then Absalom fled.
And the young man who was keeping watch lifted his eyes and looked, and there, many people were coming from the road on the hillside behind him.
35 And Jonadab said to the king, “Look, the king’s sons are coming; as your servant said, so it is.”
36 So it was, as soon as he had finished speaking, that the king’s sons indeed came, and they lifted up their voice and wept. Also the king and all his servants wept very bitterly.
37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.
38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom. For he had been comforted concerning Amnon, because he was dead.
14:1 So Joab the son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s heart was concerned about Absalom. 2 And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman, and said to her, “Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel; do not anoint yourself with oil, but act like a woman who has been mourning a long time for the dead. 3 Go to the king and speak to him in this manner.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.
4 And when the woman of Tekoa spoke to the king, she fell on her face to the ground and prostrated herself, and said, “Help, O king!”
5 Then the king said to her, “What troubles you?”
And she answered, “Indeed I am a widow, my husband is dead. 6 Now your maidservant had two sons; and the two fought with each other in the field, and there was no one to part them, but the one struck the other and killed him. 7 “And now the whole family has risen up against your maidservant, and they said, ‘Deliver him who struck his brother, that we may execute him for the life of his brother whom he killed; and we will destroy the heir also.’ So they would extinguish my ember that is left, and leave to my husband neither name nor remnant on the earth.”
8 Then the king said to the woman, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning you.”
9 And the woman of Tekoa said to the king, “My lord, O king, let the iniquity be on me and on my father’s house, and the king and his throne be guiltless.”
10 So the king said, “Whoever says anything to you, bring him to me, and he shall not touch you anymore.”
11 Then she said, “Please let the king remember the LORD your God, and do not permit the avenger of blood to destroy anymore, lest they destroy my son.”
And he said, “As the LORD lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”
12 Therefore the woman said, “Please, let your maidservant speak another word to my lord the king.”
And he said, “Say on.”
13 So the woman said: “Why then have you schemed such a thing against the people of God? For the king speaks this thing as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring his banished one home again. 14 For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.
15 “Now therefore, I have come to speak of this thing to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. And your maidservant said, ‘I will now speak to the king; it may be that the king will perform the request of his maidservant. 16 For the king will hear and deliver his maidservant from the hand of the man who would destroy me and my son together from the inheritance of God.’
17 “Your maidservant said, ‘The word of my lord the king will now be comforting; for as the angel of God, so is my lord the king in discerning good and evil. And may the LORD your God be with you.'”
18 Then the king answered and said to the woman, “Please do not hide from me anything that I ask you.”
And the woman said, “Please, let my lord the king speak.”
19 So the king said, “Is the hand of Joab with you in all this?”
And the woman answered and said, “As you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right hand or to the left from anything that my lord the king has spoken. For your servant Joab commanded me, and he put all these words in the mouth of your maidservant. 20 To bring about this change of affairs your servant Joab has done this thing; but my lord is wise, according to the wisdom of the angel of God, to know everything that is in the earth.”
21 And the king said to Joab, “All right, I have granted this thing. Go therefore, bring back the young man Absalom.”
22 Then Joab fell to the ground on his face and bowed himself, and thanked the king. And Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord, O king, in that the king has fulfilled the request of his servant.”
23 So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem. 24 And the king said, “Let him return to his own house, but do not let him see my face.” So Absalom returned to his own house, but did not see the king’s face.
25 Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks. From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. 26 And when he cut the hair of his head—at the end of every year he cut it because it was heavy on him—when he cut it, he weighed the hair of his head at two hundred shekels according to the king’s standard.
27 To Absalom were born three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar. She was a woman of beautiful appearance.
28 And Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, but did not see the king’s face. 29 Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to send him to the king, but he would not come to him. And when he sent again the second time, he would not come. 30 So he said to his servants, “See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire.” And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.
31 Then Joab arose and came to Absalom’s house, and said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”
32 And Absalom answered Joab, “Look, I sent to you, saying, ‘Come here, so that I may send you to the king, to say, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me to be there still.”‘ Now therefore, let me see the king’s face; but if there is iniquity in me, let him execute me.”
33 So Joab went to the king and told him. And when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king. Then the king kissed Absalom.
15:1 After this it happened that Absalom provided himself with chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him. 2 Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate. So it was, whenever anyone who had a lawsuit came to the king for a decision, that Absalom would call to him and say, “What city are you from?” And he would say, “Your servant is from such and such a tribe of Israel.” 3 Then Absalom would say to him, “Look, your case is good and right; but there is no deputy of the king to hear you.” 4 Moreover Absalom would say, “Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice.”
5 And so it was, whenever anyone came near to bow down to him, that he would put out his hand and take him and kiss him. 6 In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
7 Now it came to pass after forty years that Absalom said to the king, “Please, let me go to Hebron and pay the vow which I made to the LORD. 8 For your servant took a vow while I dwelt at Geshur in Syria, saying, ‘If the LORD indeed brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the LORD.'”
9 And the king said to him, “Go in peace.” So he arose and went to Hebron.
10 Then Absalom sent spies throughout all the tribes of Israel, saying, “As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then you shall say, ‘Absalom reigns in Hebron!'” 11 And with Absalom went two hundred men invited from Jerusalem, and they went along innocently and did not know anything. 12 Then Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, from his city—from Giloh—while he offered sacrifices. And the conspiracy grew strong, for the people with Absalom continually increased in number.
13 Now a messenger came to David, saying, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”
14 So David said to all his servants who were with him at Jerusalem, “Arise, and let us flee; or we shall not escape from Absalom. Make haste to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly and bring disaster upon us, and strike the city with the edge of the sword.”
15 And the king’s servants said to the king, “We are your servants, ready to do whatever my lord the king commands.”
16 Then the king went out with all his household after him. But the king left ten women, concubines, to keep the house. 17 And the king went out with all the people after him, and stopped at the outskirts. 18 Then all his servants passed before him; and all the Cherethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men who had followed him from Gath, passed before the king.
19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why are you also going with us? Return and remain with the king. For you are a foreigner and also an exile from your own place. 20 In fact, you came only yesterday. Should I make you wander up and down with us today, since I go I know not where? Return, and take your brethren back. Mercy and truth be with you.”
21 And Ittai answered the king and said, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, surely in whatever place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also your servant will be.”
22 So David said to Ittai, “Go, and cross over.” Then Ittai the Gittite and all his men and all the little ones who were with him crossed over.
23 And all the country wept with a loud voice, and all the people crossed over. The king himself also crossed over the Brook Kidron, and all the people crossed over toward the way of the wilderness.
24 There was Zadok also, and all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God. And they set down the ark of God, and Abiathar went up until all the people had finished crossing over from the city.
25 Then the king said to Zadok, “Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. 26 But if He says thus: ‘I have no delight in you,’ here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.”
27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, “Are you not a seer? Return to the city in peace, and your two sons with you, Ahimaaz your son, and Jonathan the son of Abiathar. 28 See, I will wait in the plains of the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.” 29 Therefore Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem. And they remained there.
30 So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up. 31 Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”
32 Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father’s servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,’ then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me. 35 And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear.”
37 So Hushai, David’s friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem.
Sin, yet again, threatens to divide the kingdom. Lustful flesh, desiring to take for itself what it ought not, continues as Amnon rapes his own sister Tamar. David failed to administer justice and it resulted in more sin. Absalom took justice into his own hands and killed his brother Amnon, and then fled into exile. One sin led to another, leaving a trail of consequences along the way.
Even after returning and being reconciled with his father—having tasted the power of delivering justice (albeit improperly)—the flesh of Absalom desired more power and control. He usurped the king’s power by intercepting those who seek the king for judgment, delivering to them his own judgment in the place of the king. By doing so he positions himself to steal the hearts of the men of Israel.
All flesh is inclined to abuse power because it is at enmity with God from its conception, ever turned in on itself because of presumed righteousness. The Triune God is the only source of true power, and, thankfully, He brings the New Man in us to pray against our very own flesh (not just in the collect for this week) but ultimately in the Lord’s Prayer (see Luther’s explanation to the 3rd Petition).
We pray: O God, the protector of all who trust in You, without Whom nothing is strong and nothing is holy, multiply Your mercy on us that, with You as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.