Her story is recorded in 2 Samuel 13, but truth be told it’s really our story.
The story of so many of us who have been victims of abuse.
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.
15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”
16 “No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”
But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.
20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman (2 Samuel 13;12-20, NIV)
Desolate. Ruined. Dreary. Left alone. Forlorn. Laid waste. Abuse is debilitating.
This was the king’s daughter.
She was royalty.
Christ Tabernacle is currently teaching a series on royalty. Last week, I blogged about what it meant to be a royal priesthood here.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV).
Tamar went into the house an innocent virgin and she left violated, ravaged, and dehumanized.
If you are hand picked from birth or someone deemed special, wouldn’t you think thoughts like,
“Wasn’t my fault?”
I’m sure Tamar asked herself this question. Was she plagued thinking,
“Did I cause this to happen?”
“Did I bring this on myself?”
“Did I give the wrong signal?”
“If only I did not go into that bedroom.”
Although it was not Tamar’s fault, it would seem that she could be blamed by her accusers for going to his sick bed. I’m sure there will be rumors or suggestions in the air. Is that what her father King David thought? Is that why he never addressed this heinous crime?
How could anyone have known Tamar was targeted? A victim of a well thought out scheme to satisfy her brothers selfish indulgence.
Ironically, Amnon hated Tamar, but he didn’t hate his own sin.
He threw her out like a piece of trash. Imagine this irony. Here she is the daughter of the king, lifeless in the king’s house. After the crime, her royal robe was still in tact. She was no less the daughter of the king than she was before the deed was done. But she no longer felt worthy to wear the royal robes—so she tore them.
She would never be able to use her privileges again.
She choose to strip herself of her royalty identity.
Now, shame became the garment that she wore. She choose not to summon her father, the king, to get justice. After all, if she was valued, wouldn’t her father want to automatically want to stand up for her? She choose to detach herself from whom she was born to be.
From her status.
From her rightful position.
She choose to mark her own head with ashes. The same ashes that were the result of making her sick brother a loaf of her special bread.
Ashes, a symbol of mourning. Her life as she knew it was over. She could never longer live amongst the virgins. She lived in seclusion. And true to form, he lived amongst the population. She lived in silence, and her abusers voice was still heard in the streets. After all, she was told,
“Don’t talk about it.”
But her silence protected him, hence her trust issues began. One act done in secret, destroyed, but one act in public—redeemed.
One king became an instrument, aiding in his daughter’s wrong. One king became an instrument to right all wrongs. One king chose to keep on his royal robes and not confront the issue. One king chose to have his royal robe stripped from him confronting the issue of all sin and injustice head on—in order to cover our shame with robes of royalty.
That king—King Jesus—gave us back our identity as daughters of the king so we will be no longer desolate.
Question: Which garment are you covering yourself with today? Your royal robes or feelings of shame?