2 Samuel 13:16-23

15 Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; indeed, the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up, go away!” 16 But she said to him, “No, because this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you have done to me!” Yet he would not listen to her. 17 Then he called his young man who attended him and said, “Now throw this woman out of my presence, and lock the door behind her!” 18 Now she had on a [j]long-sleeved garment; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king dressed themselves in robes. Then his attendant took her out and locked the door behind her. 19 Tamar took ashes and put them on her head, and tore her [k]long-sleeved garment which was on her; and she put her hand on her head and went on her way, crying out as she went.

20 Then Absalom her brother said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? But now keep silent, my sister, he is your brother; do not take this matter to heart.” So Tamar remained and was isolated in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 Now when King David heard about all these matters, he became very angry. 22 But Absalom did not speak with Amnon either good or bad; for Absalom hated Amnon because he had violated his sister Tamar.

23 Now it came about after two full years that Absalom had sheepshearers in Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king’s sons to celebrate.

Now, we already know Amnon did something despicable, but in their culture it was even worse to send the virgin away once you had violated her. Essentially, you had already skipped the proposal and married the woman, and now Amnon was going to divorce her in the same day–which was only really allowed in cases of unfaithfulness.

But I don’t want to delve into that too much more, as Absalom shows what family ought to look like (though his later actions were less than honorable). When he found his sister crying and in disgrace, he took her in. That’s it, that’s the lesson. Okay, I’ll elaborate…

When we have family that is in distress, we need to help them. That might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it is hard to know how to help them. At times, the most obvious course of action might actually enable bad habits that got them in this mess to start with. So what can one do?

First, be there. Second, encourage them. Then, if you find it in your power to do something about their situation that will not disempower them or reaffirm bad habits, make it so. Absalom did all three, and for him, the third choice was easy, because his sister was not the victim of her bad habits. She was a victim of naivety, but this disaster was not of her own making. So he took her in and provided her shelter, whereas she may have become an outcast in her own home otherwise.

Ultimately, if you’re not sure, ask the One who knows all things, and works things for the best. God will be sure to give you guidance when you ask.

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