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2 Samuel 13:1-22 -

The firstfruits of iniquity.

The facts are:

1 . Amnon entertains an improper affection for his half-sister Tamar, and meditates evil.

2 . Making known his secret passion to Jonadab, he is prompted to a device for securing a personal interview with her.

3 . The king, visiting Amnon in his pretended sickness, kindly arranges that Tamar should wait upon him with special focal in his chamber.

4 . Seizing an opportunity in the absence of attendants, he accomplishes his purpose in defiance of her protests and pretexts.

5 . By a sudden revulsion of feeling, he now hates her, and causes her to be driven away in disgrace.

6 . Her trouble becoming known to the king and to Absalom, the one is very wroth and does nothing, and the other conceals his cherished hatred and revenge. The rather long account given of the base sin of Amnon is no doubt intended to show how the chastisements pronounced by Nathan ( 2 Samuel 12:10 , 2 Samuel 12:11 ) were brought about. In this way the spiritual character of the narrative shines through all the details, which in themselves seem worthy of being forever lost in oblivion. It is in connection with the evil, and often through the evil, of life that the righteousness of God is historically revealed. Those who object to such passages as these in the Bible know not the principle on which it, as a book, is constructed. It is not the deeds that are the object of thought and instruction, but the fulfilment of the righteous judgments of God, brought to pass in the fact and consequences of their occurrence. In the deeds here recorded we have a graphic description of the firstfruits of the dreadful sin of David.

I. ALL SIN SOONER OR LATER BEARS FRUIT IN HUMAN SOCIETY . "Sin" is a term descriptive of the moral quality of thought or action. It is a demonstrable fact in the sphere of mind and life, that every distinct thought and mental act, to say nothing of the outward expression of it, is a power or force contributed towards a modification of the existing forces at work in the world. No mental life is the same after a given thought has been formed as it would have been had some other been in its place. The law of dynamics, by which every wave of motion produces an effect forever, holds good in the mental and moral sphere. Sin is a wave of evil, a force in an oblique direction, or as a seed to germinate and reproduce its kind. David's dreadful deed could not but be an instance of this inevitable law. Other counter-influences of good might arise, but they would not annihilate the fact of the evil influence, and social life would not be the same as it would have been in case his energy had all gone in the line of good, and the energy of the counteraction had been, not counteractive, but supplementary to the force of his unbroken holy life. It is an awful fact that the universe, after sin, is a changed place, and that the trace of the curse in some form, though not necessarily active, will ever be found in the thought and constitution of society.

II. THE IMMEDIATE ACTION OF CONSPICUOUS SIN IS TO WEAKEN THE RESTRAINTS ON EXISTING EVIL TENDENCIES . There are always in the human heart propensities urgent for activity, and they are kept back very much by reason of the force of goodness in the good, as well as by the natural action of conscience. There can be no question that Amnon was, like many, prone to the lusts of the flesh, and that the fact of David's fall had lessened the restraints upon him. The secrecy encouraged by Jonadab might well be stimulated by the previous secrecy of David in his sin, so far as it was known to his family. The influence of David's sin on the mind of Joab could not fail to render court life more corrupt in its springs; for it is a mournful fact that, while we by our sins set a new force for evil at work which gives momentum to those already active, we do not convey to society the blessedness which subsequently may come to us in a free pardon. A notorious sin in high stations is the foster parent of kindred sins. A parent by his known sin sheds influences around his children that tend to develop the worst elements of their nature. It is fuel to fire.

III. THOSE WHO HAVE COMMITTED OPEN SINS MUST ESPECIALLY FEEL THE PAIN OF WITNESSING THE FRUIT OF THEIR DEEDS . The enlarging family of David offered wider scope for the ill effects of his conduct to work upon. The addition of Bathsheba to the harem under the peculiar circumstances could not but awaken jealousies, and among the various children loosen the bonds of restraint on the lower tendencies of life. He who had so cleverly sought to cover sin in the case of Uriah and his wife, could not detect the secret plot covered by the sickness of his son, whom he with paternal kindness visited and comforted ( 2 Samuel 13:6 ). The iniquity thus coming to maturity at last came to his knowledge in a form little suspected. Its distinctly incestuous character, and the cool cunning with which it was prepared for and perpetrated, must have given intense pain to David, apart from the evil of the act, inasmuch as it would forcibly remind him of days and nights of scheming to accomplish a horrid crime, and compel him to see that the son has learnt too well to imitate the deeds of the father. The mere sincere his recent penitence, and the more perfect his restoration to God's favour, the more keen the anguish that now would fill his spirit; for he would see and feel as a holy reconciled man only can. A similar experience is that of parents who witness in their sons, it may be, bolder forms of the sin to which they were once the victims. There are such in Christian society. Their peace with God may be real through the merits of Christ, but their pathway is beclouded by a terrible sorrow. The terrible evils of sin in this life, even to the good! Bitter is the firstfruit!

IV. THOSE WHO HAVE COMMITTED OPEN SIN ARE PARALYZED IN THEIR ACTION TOWARDS SINS OF THE SAME CHARACTER . It is said that when David learnt the full facts of Amnon's conduct towards Tamar, he "was very wroth" ( 2 Samuel 13:21 ). No doubt. Every kind and holy feeling of the restored man would be outraged by this vile conduct. But it is significant that nothing further is said. No action of a legal character was taken. The sentence of the Mosaic Law was not enforced. The remembrance of his own sin unfitted him to deal with Amnon as was due. Direct action on his part for his punishment would, he thought, be met by the reproach of his own deeds. "Physician, heal thyself," had a paralyzing meaning for him. The reference to Absalom nourishing revenge till occasion offered is an historical set off to David's inactivity. There is nothing unusual in David's conduct. It is repeated every day. The liar's tongue is deprived of its power in reproving lies in others. The deceiver in business affairs cannot with energy and force warn others against fraud. Men who have openly indulged in the lusts of the flesh speak with bated breath and act with indecision when public questions concerning the suppression and punishment of licentiousness are discussed. They may be sincere in their expression of pain, and be intensely angry if any of their offspring fall into vile ways, but they are conscious of a secret force checking the action which otherwise would have been taken. None can speak and act on moral questions as the pure. Our Saviour's words on all moral subjects carry with them the force of his unsullied life. Herein is an example for teachers and taught.


1 . There should be an avoidance of all customs in society that in any way tend to strengthen, and give occasion for the development of, the baser feelings of human nature. Oriental harems may have their counterparts in certain usages of Western life. Whatever weakens the feelings of purity and chastity is a positive evil.

2 . Care should be taken to avoid the company and services of men clever in evil. There are Jonadabs in society, whose services are ready, but are fraught with woe.

3 . The man who can make use of the kindly sympathies of others in order to encompass their ruin is already far gone towards perdition; and inasmuch as there are many such still in society, men who abuse the tenderest affections for lustful ends, their persons should be abhorred and shunned by all Christian people.

4 . The selfishness and cruelty of sin is a universal quality ( 2 Samuel 13:15-17 ), and as such it deserves the utmost detestation. All sin is self against God and God's holy order. The adulterer in his lust, the defrauder in his deceit, the extortioner in his greed, the rebellious son in his disobedience, know this too well. Their deeds are damage to the universe for sake of self.

5 . There is always being treasured up somewhere retribution for those who seem to escape the punishment due to their sin. Absalom's self-control ( 2 Samuel 13:22 ) is suggestive of restraint on the forces which at last cannot but overwhelm the wicked with destruction ( 2 Peter 2:3 ; Jud 2 Peter 1:15 ).

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