Dan Augsburger
A Crafty Man
“Now Jonadab was a very crafty man." 2 Sam. 13:3

David's life took an unfortunate turn after his affair with Bathsheba, even though he repented of his sin, was forgiven, and restored in his relationship with God. In speaking to Nathan he had called for the rich man to make a fourfold restoration. Little did David realize he would be making such a restoration through the lives of four of his children. His struggles can be discouraging to read about, but we learn much from his experience and thus should ponder his difficulties as well.

The next drama had to do with the Amnon forcing himself upon Tamar his stepsister in 2 Sam. 13. The story is painful to read, and one wonders how Ammon could have been so foolish, but then his father was also foolish.

Amnon so lusted after Tamar that he was "sick with desire," even though it was improper.

Unfortunately for Amnon, he had a "crafty" friend, Jonadab, who encouraged his obsession, and even told him what to do to obtain his desire: pretend to be sick, ask for Tamar to be sent to feed him, and take advantage of her while she was there.

Amnon's mind being clouded by unholy desire, he followed Jonadab's instructions, forced himself upon Tamar when she was alone with him in his bedroom, and promptly fell out of love! Instead of loving her more, the Bible says "Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her" (2 Sam. 13:15). An old proverb explains his behavior: "It is the property of human nature to hate one whom you have injured." As a result, he ordered her to leave, which she resisted. Finally his servants forced her away and bolted the door behind her.

Tamar was understandably heartbroken, and showed her heart-brokenness by putting ashes on her head, tearing her robe of many colors, and bitterly weeping.

Absalom, her brother, figured out what had happened, and secretly began plotting a revenge, which he later enacted with the help of his servants, through duplicity—inviting Amnon to join him with his sheep shearers out in the country, got him drunk, and had him killed at a vulnerable moment.

What lessons can we draw from this story?

(1) Uncontrolled Desires can get us into lots of trouble! Amnon had problems and made terrible mistakes. He allowed uncontrolled desires to cloud his mind, listened to the wrong people, followed ungodly instructions, and found his love turned to hate. Later, after two years had passed in which he had not been punished by his father, nor had personally repented, he allowed his mind to be clouded by alcohol at a vulnerable moment, and ended up paying the ultimate price for his foolishness. I doubt he would have started lusting for Tamar had he known the price for his deed was so high. But he had been indulged by David and had given no thought of the aftermath of his deed. Amnon doesn't seem like an evil person, just an incredibly foolish indulged person whose foolishness brought crushing unlooked-for consequences.

(2) Our mistakes can deeply hurt the people around us. It goes without saying that Tamar was horribly injured. I don't think we can fully appreciate what she felt in her culture. She should have suspected Amnon's intentions at some point, and RUN! She was unfortunately surrounded by untrustworthy people who were not asking the hard questions. In the end she was violated and victimized in every way. She was a too trusting person—of her father's direction and her brother Amnon's intentions.

(3) Lack of moral courage can bring devastation into family structures and society. Then there is David, who failed to rebuke and punish Amnon for his crime in spite of God's written instructions otherwise; later should have questioned why Amnon wanted to have his stepsister feed him; and two years after should have questioned why Absalom was so intent on having Amnon join him in the field, when Absalom may have been plotting revenge against him. David was an morally paralyzed person.

(4) Embittered people make foolish mistakes. There is also Absalom but we will think about him later, but suffice it to say that he was an embittered indulged person.

(5) We must be careful about how we choose our advisers. Listening to the wrong adviser can bring a harvest of much sadness. A great villain, and one of the most evil persons in the story, in my opinion,  was the "crafty friend" Jonadab. If Jonadab would have immediately warned Amnon of the foolishness of his quest, the outcome may have been completely different. Instead of that he went so far as to instruct Amnon on how to have Tamar. Later, after Amnon was dead, Jonadab pretended to be innocent and care about what was going on, and encouraged David that only Amnon had been murdered instead of all the brothers as David had been thinking—of course not confessing to David his role in instructing Amnon on how to take advantage of his stepsister (2 Sam. 13:32,33). He was an evil opportunist.

In writing this I am reminded of a year I spent in Austria when I was 16 and attended a school where I was to learn German. I had a great year in Austria and have many memories, but I don't remember much German—probably there wasn't much German for me to forget since I was not focusing on my studies! Coming from a conservative home, I wasn't into serious mischief, but I was with students who were—at least some of them. I was at a vulnerable age and was desperately wanting to be accepted—to be cool. God intervened in a major way in my life at that time, for He put it on the heart of an older student named Dave to warn me away from these so called "friends." Dave pointed out that these individuals came from troubled homes, were not happy, and would encourage me to do things I would later regret. He further pointed out that though they might help me get into serious mischief and pretend they were with me in doing it, if I were thrown into jail as a result, they would all scatter and leave me to myself. His last words were, "Dan, only do that which you are willing to pay the ultimate price for." That sentence changed my life. To this day, I thank God for Dave and his concern for me.


So did you spend time with Jesus today? Are you seeking God's direction in the stories that are not so positive? I need the WHOLE word and not just part of it; I think you do to!

Father, thank you for sparing my life when I was young and vulnerable and desiring to be accepted by others. Thank you for sending a real friend who warned me of what the future might hold. Father Amnon needed such a friend but no one helped him, and David his indulging father didn't suspect what was going on either. Help me, Father, to be a faithful friend, regardless of whether it is welcomed or not, regardless of how politically correct it may or may not be. Maybe someone reading this has the wrong feelings burning in his or her heart. Help Amnon's story to wake him or her up. Maybe the one reading has scars from the past over a similar situation. Help him or her to know that Jesus can make all things new. Bless my friend today and bring any healing that is needed from the past. Grant courage as well to speak the word in season as You impress. And keep my friend connected to You, so that every day might be a blessed day spent in the center of Your will. I ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

God bless you, Dan