David Murray

Professor, Pastor, Author

10 Lessons from the Beauty and the Beast


No, not the fairy story. This is a real story. And it’s more like a horror story.

I’ve been preaching through 2 Samuel in a local church, and last week I came to chapter 13, one of the most horrific and sordid chapters in the Bible. It’s got everything – rape, incest, abuse, injustice, and murder. Surely nothing profitable in there. Well, yet again, Scripture surprised me with the width and depth of its cultural relevance and spiritual challenge.

1. Beauty can be dangerous
How many grieve because they are not attractive and labor all their days to become more attractive. Yet, as Tamar found out, a beautiful figure and face can attract the wrong kind of people for the wrong kind of reasons.  Many’s a beautiful person has come to loathe their beauty as a curse. This is no way blames Tamar nor excuses Amnon for what he did. It’s simply a well-observed fact that beauty attracts more than its fair share of beasts.

2. Lust can make you sick
Although we’re told that Amnon “loved” his half-sister Tamar, the chapter reveals it was more lust than love. Instead of wanting to give himself to her for her good, he wants to take from her for his “good.” His lust was so powerful it actually made him sick. Lust entertained and encouraged can grow into a life-dominating monster that is a punishment in itself.

3. Friends can be your enemies
When Amnon saw that Tamar’s secluded life and purity made it impossible for him to get near her, he consulted a “friendly” advisor, Jonadab. But instead of warning Amnon away from his sin and rebuking him for his wicked lust, as a true friend would, he hatched a plan to help him fulfill his lust.

Unknown to Amnon, Jonadab was in league with Absalom to prevent Amnon from inheriting the throne. Like Jonadab, any “friend” who advises us to sin and helps us to do it, is actually an enemy hastening our destruction.

4. Everyone can do great evil
Amnon was the king’s son, surrounded by the privileges, comforts, and pleasures of the royal court. He’d been brought up by a godly father. He would never…Would he?

When Tamar entered his room, she clearly didn’t have the least thought of what his mind was full of. He was her brother, a sick brother, the kings son. She had no reason to suspect him of anything. He couldn’t…could he? But everyone can, can’t they?

5. Sin can defeat all reason
“You are my brother. I’m not willing. It is forbidden. It is perverse. It will shame me. It will disgrace you. Ask the king for permission to marry me.” She pours out reason, after reason, argument after argument. All to no avail. The devil blocks Amnon’s ears to all her arguments. Her comfort, her honor, and her happiness must be sacrificed to satisfy his uncontrollable passion.

6. Guilt can make the pleasant painful
His lust for her is satisfied; his hatred for her erupts. He hates her more than he lusted for her and immediately tries to get rid of her. “Get up. Get out!” he yells at her. And when she refuses, he calls a servant “Get this out!” She’s nothing but a piece of trash to be taken to the garbage.  He hates the humiliation of being rejected by her, but above all he hates her pure presence convicting him.

7. Victims can be cruelly treated
When her full brother, Absalom, hears about it, he tells her, “Don’t think about it too much.” Showing a complete lack of compassion for her, he can only think of how best to take advantage of this situation for himself. Having been trapped, ignored, raped, and despised, she is now banished to Absalom’s house, desolate and disgraced.

Surely David will do something. We’re told, “David was angry.” Is that it? Angry? No action? Not even an attempt to get an apology? What cruel injustice from her half-brother, her brother, and her father.

8. Family can be put before God
David was too indulgent towards his own children. Perhaps he saw his own sins of adultery and murder in his children, and felt his lack of moral authority. But personal failings and family connections must not be put before the honor of God in seeking justice for victims. The least he could have done was to challenge Amnon and call him to seek forgiveness from Tamar and from God.

9. Chastisement can be very painful
Absalom let the whole matter die down, waited for his brother to drop his guard, and then pounced in murderous fury to kill an unsuspecting Amnon.

God had promised David that for his sins of adultery and murder, though forgiven, he would be chastised by sexual abuse in his family and the sword would never depart from his house. The divine sword is unsheathed and begins to plunge not only into David’s house, but into David’s heart. No wonder David wept and wept.

10. Sin can be forgiven
David confessed his sins of adultery and murder and was forgiven. If Amnon had confessed his adultery and Absalom had confessed his murder and sought mercy from God, they both would have been forgiven. Instead, they both died gruesome deaths, and are today in hell, while their equally sinful father is in heaven. Sin, even the worst sin, can be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.


About David Murray

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. He blogs at HeadHeartHand . and you can follow him on Twitter @DavidPMurray .

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