David’s Punishment

David does not go unpunished for his taking of Uriah the Hittite’s wife.  the murder of Uriah and his wife are played out within David’s own house and David shows his guilt by paralysis.  Amnon rapes his sister.  This is a violent sexual act and mirrors David’s taking of Bathsheba.  Absolom kills his brother Amnon.  This is a violent act and mirrors David’s decision to kill Uriah.  David has guilt which will not enable him to pursue justice for his daughter or his son.  He knows that he is guilty of similar sin. 

David’s passivity and his family’s unruliness sets the scene for the civil war that follows.  David’s punishment is extensive, eventually involving the whole of his country.

2 Samuel 13, 14

1In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.

 2Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

 3 Now Amnon had an adviser named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. 4He asked Amnon, “Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?”

   Amnon said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.”

 5“Go to bed and pretend to be ill,” Jonadab said. “When your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.’”

 6So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so I may eat from her hand.”

 7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

   “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”

 12 “No, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

 15Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

 16“No!” she said to him. “Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.”

   But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, “Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.” 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

 20Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

 21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

Absalom Kills Amnon

 23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheepshearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24Absalom went to the king and said, “Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?”

 25“No, my son,” the king replied. “All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.” Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

 26Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.”

   The king asked him, “Why should he go with you?” 27But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.

 28 Absalom ordered his men, “Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon down,’ then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.” 29So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

 30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: “Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.” 31The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

 32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, “My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.”

 34Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.

   Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, “I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.”[b]

 35Jonadab said to the king, “See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.”

 36As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.

 37Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.

 38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

1 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 2 So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, “Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. 3Then go to the king and speak these words to him.” And Joab put the words in her mouth.

 4 When the woman from Tekoa went[a]to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, “Help me, Your Majesty!”

 5The king asked her, “What is troubling you?”

   She said, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. 6 I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. 7Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, ‘Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.’ They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.”

 8The king said to the woman, “Go home, and I will issue an order in your behalf.”

 9But the woman from Tekoa said to him, “Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.”

 10The king replied, “If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.”

 11She said, “Then let the king invoke the LORD his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son will not be destroyed.”

   “As surely as the LORD lives,” he said, “not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”

 12Then the woman said, “Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.”

   “Speak,” he replied.

 13 The woman said, “Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

 15 “And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, ‘I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.’

 17“And now your servant says, ‘May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the LORD your God be with you.’”

 18Then the king said to the woman, “Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.”

   “Let my lord the king speak,” the woman said.

 19The king asked, “Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?”

   The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God—he knows everything that happens in the land.”

 21The king said to Joab, “Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.”

 22Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honor, and he blessed the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that he has found favor in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.”

 23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24But the king said, “He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.” So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.

 25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head—he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him—he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[b]by the royal standard.

 27Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.

 28 Absalom lived two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30Then he said to his servants, “Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

 31Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, “Why have your servants set my field on fire?”

 32Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent word to you and said, ‘Come here so I can send you to the king to ask, “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!”’ Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.”

 33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.


  1. What two crimes are committed in 2 Samuel 13?
  2. Why does David respond as he does?
  3. How does David help sow the seeds of civil war?
  4. How does the violence in the world reflect the decisions of previous generations?
  5. What kind of seeds do your actions plant in the life of the young?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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9 Responses to David’s Punishment

  1. Kristin Goffinet says:

    1) First, Amon rapes his sister Tamar, and then Absolom is so upset at him that he murders Ammon.
    2) He mourned over the loss of his son, and he wanted to go to Absolom to do what he can to mend that relationship.
    3) David gets tricked into making an oath, aligning himself with Joab. From that time on, there would be tension between Absolom and Joab.
    4) Well, some of the same rivalries still exist from Bible times, including the rivalry between Jacob and Esau.
    5) Younger people often look up to me, and they may try to imitate my actions.

  2. Jessica Gentry says:

    1. The two crimes committed include the rape of Tamar by Amnon, and the murder of Amnon by Absalom.
    2. Based on what David knows and doesn’t know he agrees to an oath that then puts him in Joab’s side.
    3. David helps sow the seed of Civil war as he aligns himself with Joab and causes problems between Joab and Absalom.
    4. The violence in the world reflects the previous generations as things have piled up onto each other. Generations long ago were fighting for what they wanted, now this has only escalated and taken on a new form.
    5. My actions plant seeds in the life of the young in that the way I live will be immitated and built upon, for example my little sister will see what I do and and probably build her beliefs around some of the things I believe and the things I do.

  3. Melisa Guiles says:

    1. Amnon rapes his sister Tamar and Absalom kills Amnon.
    2. I think it might remind him of his own act with Bathsheba.
    3. He brings his son back but doesn’t meet with him. He is sowing seeds because he is not reconciled with his son.
    4. Violence does not just come in an instant. It is caused by hate or fear or some other emotion that has built up over time. Past generations start this hate or fear and as it grows during the next generation it comes out in the form of violence.
    5. I would hope that they plant seeds of faith and hope as those younger than me see the light of Jesus in me and see me being conformed to the image of Jesus.

  4. HeeJin,Choi says:

    1.What two crimes are committed in 2 Samuel 13?
    – Ammon raped Tamar and Absalom killed Ammon.
    2.Why does David respond as he does?
    – Because David himself committed a very similar sin in the past just as Ammon did. Thus he should have had grace on Absalom.
    3.How does David help sow the seeds of civil war?
    – By listening to Joab, David lit a dissention between Absalom and Joab.
    4.How does the violence in the world reflect the decisions of previous generations?

    5.What kind of seeds do your actions plant in the life of the young?
    -I try to have strong self-control by doing what I want don’t want to do. It will help me to have a strong sense of responsibilty during hardship.

  5. Moon Jung Kim says:

    1.What two crimes are committed in 2 Samuel 13? Ammon raped Tamar, and Absalom murdered Ammon
    2.Why does David respond as he does? because David knew he had done such things that his sons did
    3.How does David help sow the seeds of civil war? He eventually listened to Joab, and later he brought Absalom back.
    4.How does the violence in the world reflect the decisions of previous generations? hm… violence is never solved but got worse ..
    5.What kind of seeds do your actions plant in the life of the young?

  6. aaron wright says:

    1 rape and murder
    2 He knew he followed the same steps as his sons
    3 he invites joab and causes dissension between joab and absolem
    4 adam and eve. even though anyone would have messed up if they were in their place, Scripture still speaks of how we all pay for their mistake.

  7. HyeJin Lee says:

    1.What two crimes are committed in 2 Samuel 13?
    Amnon raped Tamar and Absalom killed Amnon.
    2.Why does David respond as he does?
    Because David had committed a similar sin.
    3.How does David help sow the seeds of civil war?
    David caused civil war by listening Joab and bringing Absalom back.
    4.How does the violence in the world reflect the decisions of previous generations?
    Many of dissensions and conflicts among this society are rooted on the history of the world.
    5.What kind of seeds do your actions plant in the life of the young?
    Well… My life in moody would be benefits to my future ministry, if I spend time here wisely and meaningfully.

  8. Grace Yoo says:

    1. The two crimes committed in 2 Samuel 13 the rape of Tamar by Amnon and the murder of Amnon by Absalom.

    2. David responds as he does because he did something just as bad.

    3. David helps sow the seeds of civil war when he listens to Joab.

    4. The violence in the world reflects the decisions of previous generations by having them start it with hatred and conflict.

    5. I am not sure what kind of seeds my actions plant in the life of the young.

  9. Sandra Tindle says:

    1. The two crimes that are committed in 2 Samuel 13 are the rape of Tamar and the murder of Amnon.
    2. David responds as he does because it would be hypocritical of him to punish his family for rape and murder when he himself did those crimes.
    3. David helps sow the seeds of civil war by not stopping the violence and hatred within his family.
    4. The violence in the world very much so reflects the decisions of past generations. Often times violence happens because of revenge for something that was done in the past.
    5. My actions can either serve as a good or a bad example for young people.

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