Friday, April 30, 2010

Tamar

Tamar, you are a palm tree; tall, erect, proud with royal virtues.  “Palm tree”, anyway, is the meaning of your name.  Your long flowing gown of a virgin princess, merely ornaments the beauty of your pure, virgin spirit.  Tamar…

…was the sister of Absalom.  King David’s own daughter.  Amnon was her half-brother.  Her devastation reaches out to us from 2 Samuel 13: 1-22.  The story beats with the pulse of an R-rated movie.  This less-than-fairy tale begins with Amnon entertaining lustful desire for his half-sister Tamar.  Determined to have her, he contrives a deceptive plan to get her alone with him in his room.  A request is sent by messenger in which Amnon asks Tamar to come to him with homemade soup because he is not feeling well and desires her attentiveness.  But while she is showing him kindness, he becomes physically aggressive towards her.  She pleads with him, “No, my brother, do not violate me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing.  And as for me, where could I carry my shame?  And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel.  Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you,” 2 Samuel 13:12-13.  Tamar offers herself to Amnon as a wife of covenant!  She offers to abide with him as a true lover. “But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.  Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that 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!’ But she said to him, ‘No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.’  But he would not listen to her.  He called the young men who served him and said, ‘Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.’ Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed.  So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her,” verses 14-18. 

Tamar… .who are you now?  How will you present yourself in this world?  What will you wear?      “And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore.  And she laid her hand on her head and went away crying aloud as she went,” verse 19.   Tamar’s heart had been aggressively ripped from her breast.   A commonly suggestive game has now begun in and all about the airwaves of her vaguely noticed life.  She had come earnestly to her brother with the purpose of giving sisterly love and she was treated improperly.  His actions suggested to her that she was merely a sex object and love was merely a lustful game.  A perspective began to form in her mind and heart, gathering momentum with each added suggestion.  “And her brother Absalom said to her ‘Has Amnon your brother been with you?  Now hold your peace, my sister.  He is your brother, do not take this to heart.’  So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house,” verse 20.  Here again and there again a thought, a word concerning her new situation.  So many suggestions were made against her heart, her femininity, the nature of love, and her God.  Her person was assaulted by a world of shame and her God was assaulted by unholy perspectives.  The God of all comfort was not the God of their evangelism.  Absalom told her to be quiet and go home.  Tamar would never open her body and emotions to affection again. She would forever shrink back from royal delights and marital pleasures.  There was no good reason for this because her shame was not her own.  But that’s not what she heard or saw.  The perspective of the Royal Palm Tree was altered… .changed by the suggestions.  

Tamar, the Royal Palm Tree, slumped forward, her face in the dust… .the virgin bark covering stripped, the green leafy tresses split and cut off.  She could hear the torrential downpour of her shame.  Such an torment.  Such an injustice.  Her perspective of self and her perspective of her God completely changed… Is Divinity devoid of comfort?  Does God even care?  God, are you to blame for this?

Have you ever been there?

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