Content Warning: Rape. This story is very heavy and may cause distress to some people. If you need support or would like to process your feelings with somebody, please reach out to your growth group leader, a church staff member or a trusted friend and start a conversation.
Intro Sentence: We see power being abused to hurt the vulnerable over and over again. What will it take to end this cycle of abuse?
2 Samuel 13:6-14
6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.’
7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: ‘Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.’ 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.
‘Send everyone out of here,’ Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food here into my bedroom so that I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, ‘Come to bed with me, my sister.’
12 ‘No, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’ 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
Reading this story breaks my heart every time. It’s devastating to see such abuse of power and even more depressing to open Facebook a few minutes later and see that the world today is not that different. Whether it’s sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of abuse, most of us have our own stories of how we have been affected by abuse. For many of us, that abuse came at the hand of someone close, someone we trusted and often a partner or family member as in this story of Amnon and Tamar. As I read the story, I’m reminded of my own family upbringing where domestic violence was so commonplace that I didn’t even recognise it as abuse until I was 16.
Wherever we look in the world, there seems to be a pattern of this abuse of power. The strong overpowering the weak (as in verse 14). The entitled abusing the very persons who served them (verse 11). It makes me want to cry out in exasperation, “What will it take to end this cycle of abuse?”
What we need is someone who will use their power, not to take advantage, but to empower the vulnerable. Someone meek enough to let go of that power to save the weak. Someone like Jesus, who “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”(Philippians 2:6-8, emphasis added.) Here, at last, we find the true king who turns systems of abuse on their heads, even to the point of swapping places with the weak so he could die in our place! What a radical use of his power and kingship! And now that he has toppled the system, we no longer need to clutch at power ourselves; instead we can take comfort in knowing our King will fight for us, not against us.
Head: Amnon and Jesus both had special positions of power as the sons of great kings. What contrasts do you see in the way they used that power?
Heart: Sadly, we don’t yet live in a world free from abuse. We look forward to the New Creation where every tear will be wiped away, but until then, how do we continue to face the abuse around us? It may feel overwhelming sometimes… but how do you think our experience is affected by knowing we have a mighty king in Jesus who fights evil and abuse with more power than any other human? How does it feel to know he has tender compassion for the vulnerable?
Hands: Think about the positions of power or privilege that you may enjoy. What are some ways you could use that power to serve the vulnerable?
Lord God, I cry out to you from the mess of this world and the mess of my own heart. The problem of evil has hurt me deeply, and I in turn hurt others. Thank you for sending Jesus to be the perfect king, to humble himself, and to die in my place. Your tender mercy has saved me and given me a new identity as a conqueror over sin. Help me to live in line with this new identity and to trust in your power alone to fight evil. Help me long for the day when you will wipe away all my tears and bring me home. Home with you. I love you, Jesus. Amen.
A song to listen to: Jesus Paid it All
Living Church City South Campus