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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible



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Lesson 4: David – Procrastinated


2 Samuel 13:1-39.


David knew triumph and tragedy, success and failure, joy and deep depression. He was a valiant fighter, a doting father and a passionate lover. Yet he let his sexual lust overpower his purity and integrity, and ended being convicted as both an adulterer and a murderer. Yes, he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed so he could marry her in an attempt to cover up his sin and sense of guilt.

It is common, as happened in David’s family, for young people to follow the lifestyle of their parents and fall into a similar sin. Amnon would not delay his sexual gratification. He was smitten by the gorgeous Tamar, and decided he would have sex with her. The only problem was Tamar was Absalom’s sister and his own half-sister – so they all shared the same father.

Instead of dismissing the temptation, Amnon dwelt on his fantasy and allowed it to consume him to the extent of making himself sick. At which point, he received poor counsel from his so-called friends who pandered to his ego and lust.

Together they contrived to have Tamar cook Amnon a meal at his place. When they were on their own, Amnon over-powered and raped Tamar despite her pleas and panic-driven struggle with him. As is often the case in such incidents, having had his way, Amnon subsequently felt total revulsion towards Tamar and had her thrown out of his presence.

When we place this incident within the context of his family situation we find it is even more sinister. It happened after David’s adultery with Bathsheba. Whilst David did not rape Bathsheba, he took what was not his and similarly gave in to instant self-gratification. He had set a poor example for his family to follow.

David was far from being a model father. Although obviously loving his children, he thought loving meant allowing them to do whatever they wanted without correction or having to face the consequences of their actions. He allowed Amnon to rape Tamar without stricture although the record says David was furious. As David did nothing Absalom took that as a licence for him to right the wrong his brother had committed. Absalom secretly harboured revenge which finally revealed itself when he murdered Amnon two years later.

David never confronted Absalom on that issue or on Absalom’s blatant conspiracy and treachery. Rather than deal with the issues he either ignored them hoping they would go away or procrastinated so long that other people had to fill the gap.

Joab, recognising David’s longing to see Absalom again and yet seeming to be incapable of burying the past hurt, devised a plan to have Absalom returned to Jerusalem and reconciled to David. Unfortunately, Absalom did not repent of his action but merely allowed his revenge to smoulder. Evidently he conspired to overthrow David’s kingdom. Four years after returning to Jerusalem, Absalom made his move to proclaim himself king in Hebron.

Rather than confront his son, David escaped from Jerusalem. Had he summoned his troops he would probably have won a decisive victory. Instead, he escaped and allowed Absalom to invade Jerusalem and rape his concubines.

Eventually, David mustered his troops and the battle to secure his kingdom began. However, even knowing it was Absalom who had incited the treachery, he wanted the battle won without having Absalom killed. When Absalom was finally killed by Joab, David mourned for Absalom more than he thanked his troops for regaining his rule.

Lastly, when Adonijah set himself up as king, Nathan the prophet had to persuade Bathsheba to get David to fulfil his promise or Solomon would never have ascended the throne as David’s successor, a position that was rightfully his.

David would say to us today...

Sometimes you have to deal with the hard issues or they may turn on you and bite you.


Father, none of us likes discipline at the time and most of us find it hard to administer discipline. However, help us to realise that You are there in every situation and if we commit our thoughts and actions to You, You will guide us so that when we discipline others it will be done in love and for everyone’s benefit. Amen.

Additional readings

Numbers 13:26-33; 2 Samuel 6:1-23; Acts 5:1-11.


Why do we try and avoid conflict?

Why do we need to realise that conflict may be beneficial rather than negative?

How do you handle conflict? What do you need to learn in order to handle it better?

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