“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)
Your love falls short at its inception, throughout all of your attempts, and eventually it will fall away. Such is the love of ungodly, sinful people. The only enduring love is the love of God worked in and through you. But Amnon didn’t just love Tamar with an ungodly love, he hated her with an ungodly hatred. This hatred is surprisingly unjust and obvious to spot in this story. It’s not so obvious to spot in our own story.
It’s easy to understand why the Jewish POW might hate the German soldier who treated him with cruelty. But it’s much more difficult to understand why a man who raped a woman he claimed to love now hates here with a deep, intense, and abiding hatred. You expect pity, compassion, or deep regret from him after he did what he did. But his heart is not tender toward her, but it is hard like a flint. He resents her. Why do we hate those we hurt?
- They remind us of how vile we have become. We have hurt them and in the process hurt ourselves. We cannot remove them from our lives. We cannot eradicate the memory of the violence we have done. We are disgusted with them because in them we see why we should be so disgusted with ourselves. Our own foolishness has brought us low, but somehow we blame those we hurt. They are the reason that our character is now despised in the eyes of others. We have not humbled ourselves and so we hate the one we hurt. It doesn’t get more ugly, unjust, or ungodly than that.
- They now make it impossible to conceal our shame. It is one thing when sin you commit is only known to you and not to others. It’s very easy for us to deceive ourselves and push that sin to the margins of our lives. But when we hurt an individual like Amnon hurt Tamar, that person has power to bring shame and reproach upon our lives. Everything begins to crumble. Even the most vile among us seems to care about how they are perceived by others. David cared so much about how people perceived him that he hid his adultery by murdering a righteous man and loyal soldier in his army. He went to great lengths to conceal his shame.
- They are good that we now call evil. How could a gentle woman like Tamar, a rape victim, become the enemy in this situation? Only in a deceived, bent mind like Amnon’s. “A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it” (Proverbs 26.28). Men hate God and His Word because they know God is not pleased with them. They stay in the darkness because their deeds are evil. They hate the light and won’t come to it. Such yearn for the Holy One to cease from before them (Isaiah 30.11). We hate those who are good because they won’t speak good concerning us, but only evil. It never dawns on us that we deserve it.
If we know God well …if we are always aware of His presence and power, then we won’t allow ourselves to be led to the depths of depravity. If we cultivate relationships with godly friends, we will avoid the ungodly ones that encourage us to gratify our lustful and base desires. If we understand the power of our example, we will let no man despise our youth. Amnon followed in the steps of his father in his personal life. He made some of the same devastating choices. He paid with his life when his brother Absalom made his own devastating choice to take vengeance for this very instance. May God be merciful and protect us from such devastating, life-altering sin.