Where does your guidance in life come from?
2 Samuel 13:1-5
13 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.
2 Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.
3 Now Amnon had an advisor named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4 He asked Amnon, ‘Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?’
Amnon said to him, ‘I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.’
5 ‘Go to bed and pretend to be ill,’ Jonadab said. ‘When your father comes to see you, say to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so that I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.”’
I find this chapter one of the most confronting stories in the Old Testament – and that’s saying something! Things just go wrong on so many different levels, and it breaks my heart to see such brokenness.
One of the things that strikes me about Amnon’s wicked behaviour is that he isn’t in it alone. It’s easy to imagine him as some lone psychopath living on his own terms, but as I read through this story I’m struck by the fact that there are others complicit in this wickedness. Not even just complicit; his mate Jonadab actually advises him with this plot to assault his sister. What a rubbish advisor!
I find it appalling that Amnon had such a vile person in the trusted position of his advisor to start with! If he was surrounded by voices like that, it’s no surprise he gave in and committed such wicked acts. The voices we surround ourselves with do shape our character, and whether we realise it or not, they play a powerful part in guiding our decision making. These advisors might not just be a person; they could even be the movies or books we fill our time with or the cultural narratives we buy into that tell us how to approach our careers, relationships, or morality.
What are the voices that guide you? Do they give godly advice or worldly advice? It’s hard to know who to trust in our inner circle, who is worthy of the privileged role of our Personal Advisor. A psalmist asks the question of guidance “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” then immediately gives us the answer: “By living according to your [God’s] word.” (Psalm 119:9) God’s word is the only advisor we can fully trust to guide us. And what a blessing that his word isn’t just some impersonal ancient text, but “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) In Jesus we have the embodiment of God’s word, a real person in the flesh who lived among us, and the ultimate Advisor we can really trust.
Head: Identify who or what plays the biggest role of Advisor in your decision making. How do they compare with Jesus, the living word, as a guide for your life?
Heart: Consider the times this week when you have made decisions out of self-gratification rather than godliness. Confess these to God. Ask him to guide you in his ways today.
Hands: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11. Pick a Psalm (start with a short one!) that you can start memorising today as a concrete way of ‘hiding God’s word in your heart’ so that you can be guided by the Word as your Advisor.
Merciful God, I confess my own selfishness in making decisions for my own gratification at the expense of others. I have followed the advice of worldly voices instead of you. Thank you that you promise to guide me through your word which is living, active, and powerful. Please humble my heart to hear your voice and follow your ways today.
A song to listen to: Your Word
Living Church City South Campus