God’s People, part 61: Solomon

Read 1 Kings 11:1-11

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race.” (Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 61: Solomon. There are few people IN THE WORLD who have not heard the name of King Solomon. He is one of the most romanticized of the Biblical personalities and he is remembered for many great things. In fact, when we think of Israel, especially Jerusalem, we more than likely view it post-Solomon and not pre-Solomon. He had a lasting and indelible effect on the history of the Jewish people.

He was known for his incredible wisdom, for his illustrious lifestyle, for his countless women, and his torrid romance with the Queen of Sheba. He was known for his great building campaigns and, at the top of the list of things he built, he was especially known for the building of the first Jewish Temple. Solomon’s reign was the height, the golden years if you will, of the United Kingdom of Israel. With that said, it was also the quick and fiery downfall of the United Kingdom as well.

While Solomon might be known for many great things, and is widely considered to be the wisest of all the kings of Israel, it goes without saying that even the wisdom of the great Solomon ended up falling a bit short. What’s more, like all of the rest of the kings, Solomon proved to be yet another example of how power muddies the water and poisons the well. Solomon, at best, was an embodiment of contradictions.

For instance, Solomon is known for his building of the great Jewish Temple. This temple was to be the “House of God”, where the Spirit of the LORD would literally be enthroned. This temple was not just good for the Spiritual health of the United Kingdom of Israel; however, it was great for commerce, for tourism, and for the economic growth of the kingdom as well. People from all over the world traveled to Israel to see the great Temple built by the great king.

And that brings us to what Solomon is NOT commonly known for: building temples to foreign gods for the tourists. That, in today’s day and age, probably doesn’t sound that bad, right? I mean, that is just being accommodating of diversity and showing hospitality to foreigners. If we are saavy capitalists and/or economists, we might also note how economically genius that was because, in the ancient world, temples also doubled as banks and currency exchange.

Yet Solomon, in the end, turned to those false gods and began to worship them himself. It is one thing to be accommodating, it is another thing to stray away from one’s relationship with God. The author of 1 Kings places the blame on Solomon’s wives and his old age; however, the truth be told, Solomon began to see himself above God. So much for wisdom, right?

The king, who had assassinated all of his opposition at the outset of his rule, had generally brough peace and contentment to the people of Israel; however, in the end, he forgot that peace and contentment come out of our faithfulness to God. As he grew more and more unfaithful, the façade of peace and contentment began to crumble and the state of the Kingdom grew frail and weak. In the end, Solomon died and the Kingdom instantly became divided among his son Reheboam and his superintendent, Jereboam, both of whom were contending to be the Solomon’s rightful successor.

The result: The United Kingdom became the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, forever separated and at war with one another for their legitimacy, for land, and for power. This should cause us to see the damage done by unfaithfulness. God trusts us and desires a relationship with us; however, we so often stray from God for this reason or that. We even allow excuses to justify our unfaithfulness, but in reality, we only have ourselves to blame.

The challenge for us is to admit we’ve been unfaithful in the areas we have, and to turn our hearts back to God. It is there, in a faithful and committed relationship to our Lord, that we will find true peace, contentment and joy. It is also in the context of that relationship, that we will realize that it is ONLY with God that we are capable of greatness. Apart from God, we are merely consigned and doomed to our own designs which lead toward destruction. Today’s challenge, reaffirm your commitment and your faithfulness to God.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Unfailing love and faithfulness protect the king; his throne is made secure through love.” —King Solomon (Proverbs‬ ‭20:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

PRAYER

Lord, give me the wisdom to see where I have been unfaithful and the integrity and strength to turn back to you.

God’s People, part 60: Adonijah

Read 1 Kings 1:5-10

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Macbeth_illustration14_001Part 60: Adonijah. The story of Adonijah much reminds me of Jesus teaching about humility in Luke 14, just prior his telling of the Parable of the Great Feast. In that teaching he warned the gathered people to not sit in the places of honor, but at the lowest place at the table. In doing so, one would avoid being dishonored by being asked to move to a place of lower status in front of all the people at the table and would, more than likely, be honored when the host asks one to move from the lowest place to a place more prominent.

Jesus’ words are wise and they are not meant merely as a “play it safe rather than sorry” suggestion. Jesus is, rather, guiding those who will be taught by him to not think too highly about themselves. Humility, simply, is knowing one’s place. It is not self-denigration; however, it is not self-engrandizement either. While Jesus’ teaching refers to social status, his wisdom is regarding Spiritual Humility. Such humility recognizes that none of us are better than “the least of these” because, from the least to the greatest, we are all God’s created children.

If only Adonijah had been given those wise and timely words. It’s never easy being less than the eldest brother in the royal family. Only the eldest could be the heir to the throne. Only the eldest could one day be king, unless the eldest died. Even then, Adonijah was not second eldest but third eldest. He was third in line. He could pretty much bank on NEVER being the King, not because he was unqualified (as he could not think of anyone more qualified than he was) but because of circumstance.

Yes, I am writing this a bit tongue-in-cheek; however, it is clear that Adonijah thought pretty highly of himself and he was quite thrilled (I mean, who wouldn’t be?) when his two eldest brothers died and were no longer in his way. It was Adonijah chance to rise up and take the throne for himself! He would be the one in power and could rule the kingdom!

The only problem with that comes in one word: SOLOMON. Because of his love for Bathsheba, David had declared that he willed for Solomon to be his heir. So, rather than rightfully taking the throne, Adonijah actually stages a coup and tries, like his brothers before him, to usurp David’s kingdom. As can be seen in the scriptures, it doesn’t go well for Adonijah. In the end, he fled for his life and was temporarily spared only to be killed by Solomon once he assumed power.

Adonijah could have served a great purpose for God. Who knows what God had in store for him; however, the corruption of his father and brothers spread to him and he sought power and authority rather than God. As a result, he ended up cutting what ties may have been left with his half-brother Solomon and betraying his father’s trust. All that did, in the end, is lead to his demise. The question for us is this, how do we allow our earthly ambitions to get between us and our God-given purpose? Be challenged by that question and seek out God’s will over your own!

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.” – St. Augustine

PRAYER
Lord, protect me from becoming proud so that I might be honored to serve you in the exact ways you created me to. Amen.

God’s People, part 59: Absolom

Read 2 Samuel 18

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice!” (2 Samuel‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬)‬‬

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

img_0874Part 59: Absolom. Absolom comes to us in a way that makes him feel like the Punisher, who is one of my favorite of the Marvel heroes. In fact, the Punisher is not even a “hero”, but an antihero, a vigilante who is seeking punishment for those who murdered his family. Eventually that leads him to seek punishment for all he feels fall on the wrong side of the law. The Punisher seeks not vengeance, but justice through punishment.

The reason there was a Punsiher at all was because the failings of the justice system; his family was murdered by the mob and those who were “enforcing” the law turned a blind eye on him because they were in the pockets of the mafia. Thus, the grieving husband and father, Frank Castle, became the Punisher and took law “enforcement” into his own hand. Nothing will get in the way of him or his mission to punish the corrupt and criminals.

Absolom comes to us in much the same way. He’s outraged when he learns that his sister has been raped his and her half-brother, Amnon. He advised his sister to remain quiet, probably to protect her as we have all seen how “just” David’s court really was. I am sure he had the hope justice would take its course; however, when David remained silent and protected Amnon from any sort of punishment, Absolom becomes indignant. He, like Frank Castle, decided to take “law enforcement” into his own hands and, two years later, had Amnon murdered.

How can one not root for Absolom there, right? I mean his sister’s life was utterly destroyed and her own father did nothing to bring justice to her. I believe that this was the beginning of the split between Absolom and his father, the King. With that said, like many before and many after, Absolom also sought power and, though he was reconciled with his father, he began to plot against him with the hope of taking the throne from him.

Absolom, no doubt, believed he had the moral high ground to plot the coup, because of his father’s inability to judge justly; however, he did not seek God’s will in that regard, but was advancing his own cause and looking to set himself up as the ultimate judge of good versus evil. He proclaimed, “I wish I were the judge. Then everyone could bring their cases to me for judgment, and I would give them justice” (2 Samuel‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬)!‬‬

Absolom saw himself as the arbiter of justice, and one could almost say that his words were rather chivalric; however, when one thinks of it, it falls short of true justice. All that would have happened would be that Absolom would have assumed the role of absolute ruler and would have fell short of truly being the kind of arbiter of true justice he thought he could be. Why? Because he was human and his understanding of justice was subjective. What’s more, absolute power corrupts absoltuely.

While he was able to successfully take the throne from his father, his success was extremely short-lived. In yet another tragic turn in the Davidic saga, Absolom ended up killed in battle by Joab, King David’s general. Thus, the one who saw himself the arbiter of justice, met his bloody end while hanging from his hair, caught in the branches of a tree. This, in essence, was yet another competitor for the throne that David had removed, and it solidfied Bathsheba’s push to secure the throne for her son Solomon.

In today’s time, we see people crying out for justice at all turns, and there is nothing wrong with that. With that said, we also see people acting out in all sorts of harmful, non-constructive and injust ways, all in the name of justice. This world has gone mad with the taste of blood, and it basks in blood baths in order to satiate it’s lustful desire for self-sought, vigilante “justice”. Many in the church have fallen into this deathtrap and, regrettably, many Christians sound more like Absolom than they do Jesus.

The challenge for us is to pull back and examine our hearts. Are we truly seeking justice? Are we seeking out God’s justice, the kind of justice that seeks repentance, reconciliation and redemption? Are we seeking justice and LOVING mercy? Or are we setting ourselves up as God…as the arbiters of our own brand of justice? If the latter, we are heading dangerously toward the demise of others and, in the end, our own demise as well. Let us be peacemakers, and let us be a people who stand for God’s justice for all people. Let us be guided by the true Arbiter of Justice and live that out in our lives.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

PRAYER

Lord, you are the Arbiter of Justice. Guide me in your justice so that I may seek to live justly, love mercy and walk humbly with you. Amen.

God’s People, part 58: Tamar

Read 2 Samuel 13:1-22

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.” (Amos‬ ‭5:24‬ ‭NLT)‬‬

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

  Part 58: Tamar. The last few months of 2017 went down with a barage of sexual harassment and/or misconduct charges against many prominent and powerful people. People in the upper eschalon of Hollywood, movie stars, politicians and others were outed as having wrongfully forced themselves (in one manner or another) on others because they had the power to do so. Thus, the #metoo movement was born, where countless women across social media shared their experiences with having been subjected to sexual harrassment/assault/misconduct.

What’s more, it didn’t stop with the secular world. Not long after #metoo exploded into our collective conscience, so did #churchtoo. In this social media tag, many Christian women recounted their experience with such abuse within their churches. Some of the sharing was of actual sexual abuse, and some of it was not of abuse within the church, but how the church helped to shame and silence victims of such abuse. Both are egregiously wrong and shameful.

Of course, with such abuse came push back over the length of time between the accusations. “Why did she wait 20-30 years to bring this forward,” skeptical/cynical people countered. Yet, at the heart of this is a fundamental sin we find ourselves falling into. We forget that victims almost always remain silent because they feel shamed by others around them, shamed by the very act of sexual abuse itself, and intimidated by the people who preyed upon them…people who are often in positions of power and authority. Would you report being abused if you knew it was going to cost you even more abuse than the original abuse itself did? Be honest.

Unfortunately, the #metoo and #churchtoo movements are not pointing to anything knew. Sexual abuse and misconduct happen all the time. The citizens of Sodom wanted to rape the male guests of Lot…and Lot was going to offer those evil people his daughters in the place of his guests (#themtoo)! Rape and sexual assault is reported all throughout the Bible and none in more detail than in the case of Tamar, who was raped by her half-brother Amnon.

Perhaps, looking at the account of Tamar’s rape will help us understand why female (and male) victims often remain silent. Tamar reported her rape to her brother Absolom who became, naturally, very indignant over the assault. He wanted justice for his sister, though he told her to be quiet (probably for he safety), and brought the accusation to his father, David, the King.

What did David do to Amnon, his firstborn and heir to his throne, to punish him for his crime: NADA. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The Bible says he was angry, but remained silent and did nothing to punish Amnon, his firstborn. What that betrays is the fact that David played politics and put power above justice. #tamartoo. This, unfortunately, is an evil that women have had to endure from time immemorial.

The question for us is this: are we going to allow these patterns to continue? Are we, as God’s people, going to follow after Abraham, Lot, David, Hollywood, Wall Street, Capital Hill, the White House, some church leaders, and others who have either sexually abused people and/or dismissed, silenced and shamed victims of sexual abuse (or any abuse in general)? Is our immediate, knee-jerk reaction going to be to defend the accused over and above the vicitm?

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that, in today’s hyper-sensitive and “quick-to-judge, jury, and destroy” world driven by a rabid media and social media, we need to be careful to let the facts of each case come out before making any final judgments toward anyone. It’s not justice to “burn a witch”, as it were, only to find out he or she wasn’t a witch. #salemwitchtrials.

With that said, we can’t allow justice to be obstructed by instantly calling the accusers liars and not allowing for the due process to work out on both sides. We can comfort people who are claiming to be victims, and work toward their healing, while not skewering and seeking the immediate demise of the accusers and their families. But we must not silence victims and perpetrate evil. We must defend the weak and take all accusations seriously. These are tough times to be navigating, for sure; however, God is just and always on the side of the oppressed, no matter who the oppressed is. #soshouldwebe.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Absolom named his daughter “Tamar”, presumably in honor of his sister, whom he cared for and took into his own home following her rape. How can we bring honor, care and healing to victims rather than shame, apathy and irrevocable harm?

PRAYER

Lord, let our hearts be filled with justice and let that justice quell our cynicism, perceptions and quickness to judge and persecute (victims or otherwise). Prepare me, O Lord, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. Amen.

Reversing Evil

A LOOK BACK: Reversing Evil

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

I Am You

A LOOK BACK: I Am You

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

10 Biblical Directives for a Better New Year

 

AllThingsNew

Here are ten Biblical directives
to make 2018 better than 2017:

1) PUT GOD FIRST IN ALL THINGS. PERIOD.

In Exodus 20:3, God commands, “You must not have any other god but me.”

Anything we put before God becomes our god, INCLUDING OUR POLITICS. Enough with politicizing everything! Don’t put Caesar before God, or even render Caesar equal to God.

2) READ THE BIBLE.

This may sound cliché from a pastor, but seriously we must read the Bible. Did you know that a majority of Christians are Biblically illiterate? Reading the Bible is a vital spiritual discipline.

3) DON’T JUST READ, BUT SEARCH, STUDY, LIVE.

Reading the Bible, alone, is not enough. Just because you read the Bible, and just because we can quote memory verses, does not mean we understand what we know. Just because we have read the Bible does not mean we are its interpreter-in-chief. There are lots of things that go into understanding what the Bible says in our times. Join a Bible Study, or Christian Education class, to grow in understanding of what the Bible says and the context it was written in. Also, we must be humble and not use Scripture to judge; rather, utilize it to shape our own lives. (James 1:22)

4) SHHHH. BE QUICK TO LISTEN.

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters,” James writes in James 1:19, “You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” In this age of social media, everyone is screaming over the other to get THEIR OWN message out on top. CHRISTIANS BEWARE…this is not just or godly behavior, but sinful and unjust. WE MUST STOP IT, PLEASE.

5) BE COOL.

Stop living in fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Stop worrying about things, and stop sweating the small stuff! Seriously. We as Christians are free in Christ to do anything …so long as we are bringing glory to God. So, live and let God handle the details. BE COOL, because the last thing the world needs are religious hot heads. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love…But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” (Galatians 5:13, 15)

6) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: LIVE JUSTLY.

In Micah 6:8, the passage starts off telling us that God wants us to seek justice. This doesn’t mean vengeance or retribution. Rather seek justice in our own lives…or, to put it in better words, to LIVE JUSTLY, to allow justice to guide your own life and how you live in relationship with other humans.

7) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: LOVE MERCY.

In Micah 6:8, the passage goes on to tell us to LOVE MERCY. Rather than seeking an eye for an eye, we ought to be seeking reconciliation and strengthened relationships. We are called, by God, to BE MERCIFUL…just as God is merciful toward us. We are also called by Jesus to LOVE OUR ENEMIES.

8) LIVE BY MICAH’S MAXIM: WALK HUMBLY.

In Micah 6:8, we are called to walk humbly with our God. What is humility? It is knowing our place. It means knowing that we, too, are sinners, and that we are in NO PLACE to judge others. Those who walk humbly will LOVE MERCY, for they know they’ve received much mercy. Those who walk humbly with their will seek justice and live justly for God is JUST and to walk with God is to walk side-by-side with justice.

9) DO NOT JUDGE.

This one seems to be a real doozy for people, let alone Christians, to follow. We judge others to puff ourselves up…to make us feel better about the sinners we are, because at least “we aren’t that person over there.” Yet, by virtue of judging we are worse than the sinner “over there” because the very act of judging puts us above God…who is the ONLY WORTHY JUDGE.  (Matthew 7:1-2)

10) LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

The Scriptures are explicit. GOD IS LOVE (1 John 4:7-8), and those who know God will not only know LOVE, but will be transformed by it. Jesus summed up all the Law and the Prophets in a four-lettered word: LOVE.

These are the 10 Biblical nuggets of wisdom that will help make us, and those around us, have a more joyful 2018 than 2017. Let us grow in faith together as we come to understand God’s love for us more deeply. Happy New Year to you all.

PastorTodd

LoveServeGrow

A LOOK BACK: Stepping Up to the Plate

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

The God of Jean Valjean

A LOOK BACK: The God of Jean Valjean

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

God’s People, part 57: Amnon

Read 2 Samuel 13:1-22

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“So at Absalom’s signal they murdered Amnon. Then the other sons of the king jumped on their mules and fled.” (2 Samuel 13:29 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Jan_Steen_001God’s People, part 57: Amnon. We have discussed, at length, the character and person of King David. Now it is time that we turn our attention to some of David’s more prominent children. I will not go into nearly as much depth with them as I have with others, nor will I be bringing up David’s sins (for the most part) as excuses for what his children did. No doubt, David’s sins played their part and I think that is clear enough that I do not need to reiterate that point over and over again. The first son we will will look at is Amnon.

We do not know too much about Amnon, but that he was the eldest son of David and Ahinoam (who was the woman David married after leaving his wife, Michal, behind while fleeing from King Saul). The reality is that David was polygamous and had many wives who, in turn, had many children. If you think sibling rivalries happen in the nuclear, monogamous family, you can only imagine how much more challenging the family dynamics are in polygamous families such as David’s.

All that Amnon is really known for is the terrible and horrifying sin he committed against his half-sister Tamar. Being David’s eldest son, Amnon was set to be the heir of his father’s throne. He had everything going for him and, I can imagine, felt a good sense of entilement given his status as heir to the throne.

Amnon, according to the Bible, was lusting after his half-sister Tamar. His desire for her grew into an obsession, and eventually he acted out on his lust. His friend helped him devise a plan to pretend he was ill and request that Tamar be the one to serve him food and care for him while he was sick. Once that request was granted, Amnon made his sexual advances toward her, which Tamar rebuffed.

Amnon would not be told no, as is the case with predators, and he raped his half-sister. Once he had his way with her, he sent her away from his room and refused to have any dealings with her, let alone any sort of relationship. This act of evil brought shame to the entire family and left Tamar completely scarred and broken. The Bible states that she never recovered from it and, seeing his sister completely destroyed in body and in spirit, Absalom sought out and enacted vengeance against Amnon. He waited two-years to complete the deed, but he eventually had Amnon put to death in order to avenge his sister.

This story is an extremely relevant one, as allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and rape are coming out of the woodwork against politicians, business people, clergy, church members, and Hollywood stars alike. Rape is nothing new; however, it is one of the most egregious and evil acts that one could ever commit against someone else. Rape has nothing to do with sex, nor does it have anything to do with hormones.

Rape has to do with power. Amnon did not rape Tamar because he had the hots for her (which would alone was sinful given that she was his half-sister); rather, he raped her because he could. Because he wanted her and she wasn’t going to tell him otherwise. With him, as with all rapists, it came down to power. He had it, she didn’t, and he was going to show her that she had no business telling him no.

What’s more, rape need not have to be committed sexually at all. We can rape people in more ways than just sexually. We can rape them emotionally, as well as spiritually. Rape is an act of dominance, of power, where we take what is not rightfully ours to take…because we can. Because we want it. Because we put ourselves over and above the other. How many of us have been guilty of this? How many of us have sought to exert our power over others in ways that are, in effect, raping them?

I know, I know. This is not a comfortable topic; however, with the amount of rape being had out there, it is a topic we ought to be reflecting on. We are called to love people, not manipulate them. We are called to honor and respect the divine dignity in all people, not rape them and rob them of it. Let us be a people who are challenged by what we see going on in the media and respond in a self-reflective and honest way, by repenting of our sinful and/or evil actions to our Lord Jesus Christ, and by allowing Christ to transform us into agents of the Kingdom of God and of reconciliation.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“How can we excuse David from the sin of Eli; who honoured his sons more than God?” – Rev. John Wesley

PRAYER
Lord, turn me away from my selfish need for power and control. Steer me away from being a manipulator so that I may not walk the pathway of Amnon, but that of Jesus Christ. Amen.