Bible Commentary

2 Samuel 13

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

<< 2 Samuel 12 | 2 Samuel 13 | 2 Samuel 14 >>
(Read all of 2 Samuel 13)

Verse 1

[1] And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her.

A sister — His sister by father and mother.

Verse 2

[2] And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her.

A virgin — And therefore diligently kept, so he could not get private converse with her.

Verse 5

[5] And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

My sister — So he calls her, to prevent the suspicion of any dishonest design upon so near a relation.

At her hand — Pretending, his stomach was so nice, that he could eat nothing but what he saw dressed, and that by a person whom he much esteemed.

Verse 9

[9] And she took a pan, and poured them out before him; but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, Have out all men from me. And they went out every man from him.

Out — Out of the frying-pan into the dish.

Verse 10

[10] And Amnon said unto Tamar, Bring the meat into the chamber, that I may eat of thine hand. And Tamar took the cakes which she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.

Chamber — Amnon lying upon his couch in one chamber where the company were with him, where also she made the cakes before him, first sends all out of that room, and then rises from his couch, and, upon some pretence, goes into another secret chamber.

Verse 12

[12] And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly.

Brother — Whom nature both teaches to abhor such thoughts and obliges to defend me from such a mischief with thy utmost hazard, if another should attempt it.

Force — Thou shouldst abhor it, if I were willing; but to add violence, is abominable.

Israel — Among God's people who are taught better things; who also will be infinitely reproached for such a base action.

Verse 13

[13] And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel. Now therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king; for he will not withhold me from thee.

Shame — How can I either endure or avoid the shame? Fools - That is, contemptible to all the people, whereas now thou art heir apparent of the crown.

Withhold — This she spoke, because she thought her royal father would dispense with it, upon this extraordinary occasion, to save his first-born son's life:

Verse 15

[15] Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone.

Hated her — By the just judgment of God both upon Amnon and David, that so the sin might be made publick, and way for the succeeding tragedies.

Verse 16

[16] And she said unto him, There is no cause: this evil in sending me away is greater than the other that thou didst unto me. But he would not hearken unto her.

No cause — For me to go.

Greater thou the other — This she might truly say, because though the other was in itself a greater sin, yet this was an act of greater cruelty, and a greater calamity to her because it exposed her to publick infamy and contempt, and besides, it turned a private offence into a publick scandal, to the great dishonour of God and of his people, and especially of all the royal family.

Verse 18

[18] And she had a garment of divers colours upon her: for with such robes were the king's daughters that were virgins apparelled. Then his servant brought her out, and bolted the door after her.

Garment — Of embroidered work.

Verse 19

[19] And Tamar put ashes on her head, and rent her garment of divers colours that was on her, and laid her hand on her head, and went on crying.

Put ashes — To signify her grief for some calamity which had befallen her, and what that was, concurring circumstances easily discovered.

Head — In token of grief and shame, as if she were unable and ashamed to shew her face.

Crying — To manifest her abhorrency of the fact, and that it was not done by her consent.

Verse 20

[20] And Absalom her brother said unto her, Hath Amnon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace, my sister: he is thy brother; regard not this thing. So Tamar remained desolate in her brother Absalom's house.

Been with thee — Behold, and imitate the modesty of scripture expressions.

Brother — Wherefore thou must forgive and forgot the injury; therefore thy disgracing of him will be a blot to us all; therefore thou wilt not get right from David against him, because he is as near and dear to him as thou; therefore thy dishonour is the less, because thou wast not abused by any mean person, but by a king's son; therefore this evil must be borne, because it cannot be revenged: and thus he covers his design of taking vengeance upon him at the first opportunity.

Regard not — So as to torment thyself.

Desolate — Through shame and dejection of mind, giving her self up to solitude and retirement.

Verse 21

[21] But when king David heard of all these things, he was very wroth.

Wroth — With Amnon: whom yet he did not punish, at least so severely as he should either from the consciousness of his own guilt in the like kind; or, from that foolish indulgence which he often shewed to his children.

Verse 22

[22] And Absalom spake unto his brother Amnon neither good nor bad: for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had forced his sister Tamar.

Spake — That is, he said nothing at all to him, about that business. He neither debated it with him, nor threatened him for it; but seemed willing to pass it by with brotherly kindness. If he had wholly forborne all discourse with him, it would have raised jealousies in Amnon and David.

Verse 23

[23] And it came to pass after two full years, that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baalhazor, which is beside Ephraim: and Absalom invited all the king's sons.

Two years — This circumstance of time is noted, as an aggravation of Absalom's malice, which was so implacable: and as an act of policy, that both Amnon and David might more securely comply with his desires.

Verse 26

[26] Then said Absalom, If not, I pray thee, let my brother Amnon go with us. And the king said unto him, Why should he go with thee?

Let Amnon — For the king designed (as the following words shew) to keep him at home with him, as being his eldest son, and heir of his kingdom: otherwise Absalom would never have made particular mention of him; which now he was forced to do. Nor did this desire of Amnon's presence want specious pretences, as that seeing the king would not, he who was next to him might, honour him with his company; and that this might be a publick token of friendship between him and his brother, notwithstanding the former occasion of difference.

Verse 27

[27] But Absalom pressed him, that he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him.

Pressed him — It is strange that his urgent desire of Amnon's company raised no suspicion in so wise a king; but God suffered him to be blinded that he might execute his judgments upon David, and bring upon Amnon the just punishment of his lewdness.

Verse 28

[28] Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant.

Merry — When he least suspects, and will be most unable to prevent the evil.

I — I who am the king's son, and, when Amnon is gone, his heir: who therefore shall easily obtain pardon for you, and will liberally reward you.

Verse 29

[29] And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.

Commanded — Now the threatened sword is drawn in David's house, which will not depart from it. His eldest son falls by it, thro' his own wickedness, and his father by his connivance is accessory to it.

Verse 37

[37] But Absalom fled, and went to Talmai, the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son every day.

Talmai — His mother's father, that he might have present protection and sustenance from him; and that by his mediation he might obtain his father's pardon.

Verse 39

[39] And the soul of king David longed to go forth unto Absalom: for he was comforted concerning Amnon, seeing he was dead.

Go forth — And could not he recalled, to visit him, or to send for him. What amazing weakness was this! At first he could not find in his heart, to do justice to the ravisher of his sister! And now he can almost find in his heart to receive into favour the murderer of his brother? How can we excuse David from the sin of Eli; who honoured his sons more than God?

<< 2 Samuel 12 | 2 Samuel 13 | 2 Samuel 14 >>