Mourn for Tamar: 2 Samuel 13.1–22 (16 September 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.



Lord, open my ears to hear what you have to say to me; open my heart to love your word, and open my mind to understand your truth.


Daily reflection: 2 Samuel 13

This story is one of the Bible's 'texts of terror' that portray acts of extreme violence against women. Tamar is raped and then rejected by her half-brother Amnon, who is then murdered by his brother Absalom in revenge.

David does not come out of the story well. He is 'furious' about what Amnon has done (verse 21) but does nothing about it; he does nothing about Absalom, either. Tamar is ignored completely; she 'lived in Absalom's house, sad and lonely' (verse 20).

We should not expect every encounter with the Bible to be uplifting and soul-enriching. Sometimes its stories are bleak and tragic – and utterly true to life. Here, a rich and privileged young man abuses and shames a woman, who is never given justice for what's happened. We're increasingly aware today of how – perhaps 3,000 years later – the same thing happens all the time; and of how those in positions of power, including in churches, skate over or excuse what happens because they are afraid for their reputations.

Sometimes we can read a Bible story and learn something from it about how to live well, or have our trust in God's grace renewed, or be inspired by a great spiritual truth. Sometimes, all we can do is mourn for human wickedness and resolve to recognise it and confront it wherever we can. There are too many Tamars today.



God, forgive me if I haven't confronted evildoing as I ought to have done. I pray for those who suffer abuse and violence today: give them release, and give them justice.

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