BIBLE VERSE OF THE DAY: “When King David heard all this, he was furious. And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.” (2 Samuel 13: 21)
When Bitterness Creeps In
By Dena Johnson Martin
The bitterness welled up inside me, almost crushing me. I wanted to lash out, to forget whose I am and act like one from the world. I wanted to shout out in my own defense, telling of all the wrongs done against me. I wanted to let the bitterness and anger have its way with me.
Even as I battled the bitterness, I had my daily Bible reading playing on my phone. I’m reading through the Bible chronologically, and I’m at the kingship of David. I’ve read the dysfunction in his family, from rape to murder. Here’s an excerpt from a couple of David’s children:
Amnon [David’s son] said to him, “I’m in love with Tamar [David’s daughter], my brother Absalom’s [David’s oldest son] sister.”
“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.’”
So 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.”
David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 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. Then 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. 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. But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”
“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. 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.” But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.
Then 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!” 2 Samuel 13:4-15
Here was the king’s son raping his half-sister. He lured her in, overtook her, and then threw her out. She was forever disgraced, humiliated. And her brother Absalom? I don’t know if you have brothers, but they can be fiercely protective.
Absalom took his sister in, cared for her needs. His love for her was fierce… but his anger toward Amnon was even more fierce. We see this anger, this bitterness, mixed throughout the rest of David’s story.
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.” So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled. 2 Samuel 13:28-29
Absalom’s life is a portrait of the danger of bitterness. He chose not to deal with the hurt and pain of his past, and instead chose to allow the bitterness to destroy his life.
That’s exactly why God tells us to forgive. That’s why God tells us to rip out of the root of bitterness so it doesn’t get a hold on our lives. That’s why God tells us to obey His word… because His way is so much better than our own.
I made a decision years ago not to let bitterness consume me. Some days, it’s hard… really hard. Some days, it’s a minute-by-minute decision to focus on my Savior, to focus on His love for me. Some days, it’s a challenge to remember the forgiveness He pours out on me, the forgiveness I’m expected to give others. But it’s the right way, the best way, the only way.
Editor’s Note: Part of this devotional was taken from When Bitterness Creeps in by Dena Johnson Martin. You can read the full blog post here.
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