Next April I’ll be in Israel teaching on women in the Bible. One of the women I’m teaching on is Tamar (2 Samuel 13). Tamar was raped by her half-brother Ammon. She pleaded with him not to do it; she knew it would be her demise. In fact, she even suggested he go to their dad, King David, and ask for her hand in marriage. What does that say about her desperation? How many women ask their rapist to marry them? Immediately after he raped her he felt contempt towards her and instructed her to leave his room asap. Can you imagine your rapist looking at you like you violated him? As she left his room she ripped her clothes to let others know what happened to her. Her other brother, upon learning of her rape, instructed her to be silent. Have you ever had someone silence you? Voicelessness is an act of dehumanization. And what did her father do? In her culture, the father was to avenge the dishonor done to the family. As King, David was to obey the law and bring justice. He did nothing. Nothing! It’s like she kept getting violated over and over again.
Violated. Discarded. Shamed. Ruined. Silenced. Ignored.
Her story is the story of so many women throughout history. And obviously, it’s still our story -in America 1 out of 4 women is sexually assaulted. So when we read the headlines with names like Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., and now Roy Moore – as much as it feels like dominos falling – we must remember we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Over the weeks I have sat back and quietly waited. I’ve waited to see if we would brush this under the rug like we did when we elected President Trump. Last November many of us woke to learn that once again we’d been violated, discarded, silenced, and ignored.
So I’ve been waiting. Waiting to see if those in power are willing to take a stand. For us, their sisters. There have been a few voices speaking out, like this morning when Russell Moore tweeted, “A church that worships Jesus stands up for vulnerable women and girls. A church that worships power sees them as expendable.” He couldn’t be more right.
And what Tamar’s story conveys to God’s people is… Well, I’ll let you connect the dots.
If we look at the book of 2nd Samuel we find:
First 10 chapters are David’s successes and the rise of Israel.
Last 10 chapters are David’s failures and the decline in Israel.
In the middle is what some might call a Hebrew chiasm. Don’t freak out. It’s easy to understand. The Hebrew writer placed what was most important to know in the middle of the story. It’s like the meat in the middle of two pieces of bread.
In the middle of 2nd Samuel is two stories: Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) and Tamar (2 Samuel 13) – both women were violated, both suffered at the hands of powerful men. In the middle of those two stories is the story of Nathan the prophet predicting the fall of King David’s reign.
Need I connect the dots for you?
Tamar puts us on notice.
So here we women sit and wait to see if you are listening…this time.