The Father Who Refused to Discipline his Son – David and Amnon:


As we make our way to Father’s Day, today I would like to share my thoughts on one of the most shameful events in the life of King David. David had several wives and even more children. His son Amnon raped his sister, Tamar, who was also a daughter of David. David refused to punish Amnon because he was his firstborn.

2 Samuel 13: 21 When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn.[1]

The refusal of David to discipline his son, Amnon, triggered several things. Taman, is humiliated because of the rape. Absalom, her full brother, is livid and will not be satisfied until in revenge, he kills Amnon. Absalom becomes angry at David because his father refused to get involved in the situation of the rape of his sister. Eventually, Absalom revolts against his father and is ultimately killed in the war.

I never whipped my sons. My technique was to give them a tongue lashing without cursing. Sometimes it was so intense they would ask me to spank them. I never did. One of the lessons I learned in the process of raising children was the importance of “Harsh and quick” discipline. “Harsh and quick” discipline does not mean degrading language or physical violence. I never withheld meals, but I tried to apply discipline appropriate to the behavior. Think about how David’s life would have turned out had he disciplined Amnon immediately for the rape of his sister?

As we approach this Father’s Day, I encourage you to think about how your father disciplined you. Also, think about how you have responded to inappropriate behavior. David is one of the great persons of faith, but even he had some glaring flaws as a father. You and I can and should learn from David as we attempt to live lives of faithful service to Jesus Christ. The following is the story of the Rape of Tamar –


13 Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her. Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend whose name was Jonadab, the son of David’s brother Shimeah; and Jonadab was a very crafty man. He said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed, and pretend to be ill; and when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me something to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, so that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’ ” So Amnon lay down, and pretended to be ill; and when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.”

Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon’s house, and prepare food for him.” So Tamar went to her brother Amnon’s house, where he was lying down. She took dough, kneaded it, made cakes in his sight, and baked the cakes. Then she took the pan and set them out before him, but he refused to eat. Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, so that I may eat from your hand.” So Tamar took the cakes she had made, and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her, and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 She answered him, “No, my brother, do not force me; for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do anything so vile! 13 As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the scoundrels in Israel. Now therefore, I beg you, speak to the king; for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 But he would not listen to her; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.

15 Then Amnon was seized with a very great loathing for her; indeed, his loathing was even greater than the lust he had felt for her. Amnon said to her, “Get out!” 16 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. 17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence, and bolt the door after her.” 18 (Now she was wearing a long robe with sleeves; for this is how the virgin daughters of the king were clothed in earlier times.) So his servant put her out, and bolted the door after her. 19 But Tamar put ashes on her head, and tore the long robe that she was wearing; she put her hand on her head, and went away, crying aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he became very angry, but he would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his firstborn. 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad; for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had raped his sister Tamar. [2]



Questions for Reflection:

  1. What would the appropriate punishment David should have given to his son for raping his sister?


Prayer: Lord, bless me with the wisdom to know when to speak and when to remain silent. Grant me the strength of character to stand up to evil, fight what is wrong, and to risk my life for what I believe is right. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Denise Page Hood

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Sa 13:21). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Sa 13:1–22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.