“Amnon hated [Tamar] exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Arise, be gone!” (2 Samuel 13.15)
David sinned and gave reason for God’s enemies to bring reproach upon His great name. He had committed adultery with a beautiful woman named Bathsheba. She had belonged to Uriah. The loyalty of her husband led David to murder him in order to cover up the adultery. God told David that what he had done in secret would lead out to his own public humiliation. This begins when his son Amnon pined away for his half-sister named Tamar. His lust was consuming. He was distressed and became sick because of it. Amnon conspired with a cousin and found a way to be alone with Tamar.
Tamar came to care for Amnon at the behest of the king. She was brought into his chamber to nurse him back to health. But he invited her to lie with him. She refused and pointed out the disgrace and shame that it would bring upon them both. She also made it clear that the king would not withhold her from him if he simply had asked the king’s permission. But nothing would stop this lust-driven man. He was stronger than her, so he raped her. Once he committed this awful deed, the Bible tells us that the lust that drove him became a greater hatred that consumed him. “The hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
The Scripture refers to Amnon’s lust for Tamar as love. That bothers me until I realize that there is a counterfeit love which belongs to ungodly people. Much in our world passes for love, but it is sad and perverse. Amnon was consumed by this twisting of true love. His fixation manifested his selfishness, cruelty, and lack of respect for God and for righteousness. He sought to gratify his lust at the expense of the honor of Tamar and his own position of honor as the king’s son.
Some relationships are like this. Men are strongly attached to women for no other reason than their external beauty. The sports fanatic is strongly attached to other sports fanatics for no other reason than their common affinity for their favorite sports team. It’s not about the character we possess or the fact that we share the image of God, it’s all about how the person fulfills some strong desire you have. Sometimes sin ties drug addicts or gamblers together. They abuse one another to score money or drugs from one another. A man doesn’t mind leaving another man destitute in this relationship as long as he has what he wants. All that is left is misery and ruin. The lust/love for Tamar is the only form of love Amnon knows. It is selfish, cruel, and calculating. It is a love which seeks to exclude God or at the very minimum marginalize Him.
True biblical love is honorable and virtuous. It is unmatched by any counterfeits. But even what Christians call love for one another often falls short of 1 Corinthians 13 love. It’s interesting to observe people who have much in common drawn together even by that which is good. They are naturally drawn together. But even with this scenario, it falls short. How does it fall short?
Our Love Falls Short at Its Starting Point
We know in our minds that our love for one another should come from our love for God and His love for us. We ought to see people as created in the image of God. We ought to respect that in all people. A man marries a woman and becomes a Christian a few years later. He draws close to God while his wife draws away from him. The powerful, natural attachment she had for him is dissolving. The passion and sentiment that made the bond strong at the beginning is unable to hold the bond together. Why? It is because their love was nothing more than affection and sentimentalism. If she doesn’t come to Christ, that which she thought to be love will turn to hatred. The hatred with which she will hate him will become greater than the love with which she loved him.
Our Love Falls Short in Its Actions
True love seeks out the highest good of the object loved. The highest good is the spiritual welfare of the people we claim to love. But how can you actively love someone and bring them their highest good when you have no spiritual perception. If our love is manipulative, cold, calculating, and selfish, we do nothing for those we claim to love. A man may sacrifice a great deal for his family and their temporal needs and utterly fail to meet the greatest need his wife and children have. It is truly vain to meet the material needs of our families while forsaking the spiritual needs.
Our Love Falls Short in Its Endurance
Some stick it out for many years. Many give up. But even if we opt for this lesser, temporal love until the end of our lives, our lives still end. Nothing we have done or felt or sacrificed for will go with us. However, the Christian has hope beyond the grave. I will be separated from my wife and my boys at death, but we will meet again. I will spend eternity with them in unending joy around our Savior. I have what no worldly, materialistic man has – no matter how successful he is. I have enduring love.