The Shepherd King – #33 January 31, 2017

2 Samuel 17

Not even when he was running from King Saul had David been in as much danger as he is now.  Absalom, his son, has turned the hearts of the Israelites toward himself and away from his father.  Absalom seized his father’s throne and drove him into exile.  How did David handle such betrayal?

He did not complain for David understood a principle that we often forget.  He actually wrote it in one of his psalms.  David knew:  I will bless the Lord at ALL times; His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth.  These were not just words to King David; they were life.  He was all too aware of his sins and accepted that this painful situation was discipline from the Lord.

Just when he thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.  Now David had been told, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.  2 Sam. 15:31  This really hurt.  Ahithophel had been one of David’s closest friends and a trusted advisor.  In fact, we read in 2 Samuel 16: 23:  In those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who enquires of God.  That was how DAvid and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.  David had to be utterly devastated at Ahithophel’s betrayal.  Was he thinking of him when he wrote Psalm 55?

If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;  if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.  Psalm 55: 12-14

With such great sorrow and pain in his heart, what did David do?

He accepted that he could not save himself.  Any hope he might have of being restored to the throne rested in the sovereign mercy of God. King David put his future in God’s hands entirely.

When times are tough and situations are grievous, to believe that God will turn things around for you puts a demand on your faith.  Do you trust Him?  Even now?

Furthermore, when the king reached the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was pleasantly surprised to find Hushai there waiting for him. When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. 2 Samuel 15:32

It had to have given David a measure of joy that Hushai had not betrayed him. Though he had other people around him, the sight of a good friend who had remained true to him had to encourage him and lift his spirits.

A true friend has been described as someone who knows all about you and still loves you.  A true friend will stand by you when you seem to have no future and nothing to offer them in return for their loyalty.  Hushai was that true friend.  He arrived with a torn robe and ashes on his head just when David seemed finished.  He was not embarrassed to show his own grief, to share David’s pain and let everyone else know where his loyalty lay.  Hushai was the answer to David’s prayers.

David said to him, ‘If you go with me, you will be a burden to me.  But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O King.  I was your father’s servant in the past but now I will be your servant., then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice.  Wont’ the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you?  Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace.  Their two sons, Ahimaaz, son of Zadok and Jonathan, son of Abiathar, are there with them.  Send them to me with anything you hear.’  So David’s friend Hushai arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.  2Sam. 15:33-37

Being a double agent is a dangerous business!  By asking Hushai to risk his life for him, David shows us how deep the friendship was.  Only a very special friend would risk his own life for you.

So Hushai went to Jerusalem, laid his life on the line and the result was that the tide began to turn.

How do you know if the tide is turning in your situation?

When you know that there is nothing you can do but pray, the tide is turning.

When you realize that the answer to your prayer is staring you in the face, the tide is turning.

When you commit your future into God’s hands, you discover that He steps in to deal with obstacles in your path.

How can you be sure of that?  How did David know that?

FAITH – the absolutel, uncompromising trust in the love and goodness of your Heavenly Father who has promised that He will never abandon us nor forsake us.

Application:

The tide did turn for David and we’ll see more of that in the next lesson.  Be encouraged with David’s example if the tide needs to turn for you.  Commit your future into God’s hands, the most secure place it can ever be.  He will not fail you!

 

 

The Shepherd King – # 32 January 24, 2017

2 Samuel 16

In last week’s lesson we saw that Absalom usurped his father’s throne while King David, in sackcloth and ashes, walked barefoot across the Kidron Valley, weeping. (2 Sam. 15:30)  He did not beg God to deliver him from this humiliation; rather he received the chastening with dignity and understood it was a fulfillment of the word given him by the prophet, Nathan: ‘The sword shall not depart from your house.’ 2 Sam. 12:10

To receive humiliation and trial with dignity is the first lesson we derive from this scene.  A friend of mine calls it ‘dignifying the trial’.  Few people come to terms with the truth that many (not all, but many) trials and difficulties come to us as a result of our own decisions and/or behavior.  It is a noble practice to stop and ask ourselves: Is this trial the fruit of something I’ve done in the past?  It takes a measure of humility and integrity to do so for we often prefer to blame others instead.  David did not respond to Absalom’s treason with blame and vindictiveness; he humbled himself and walked away, conscious that the fruit of his past sin was now being manifest.

As if exile wasn’t enough, God also allowed two men to take advantage of his humiliation. A bitter pill indeed.  Both of these men believed that David was finished and that Absalom was the ‘man of the future’.

The first man was Ziba whom David had appointed to take care of Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s crippled son.  When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.  The king asked, ‘Why did you bring these?’  Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the desert.’ The king then asked, ‘Where is your master’s grandson?’ Ziba said to him, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks ‘today the house of Israel will give me back my grandfather’s kingdom.’ Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.  2 Samuel 16:1-4

Ziba went on his way but if he’d had the slightest idea that David would return from exile, he would not have lied about Mephibosheth.  He was, however, convinced that David was finished.

Has someone in your life told you that ‘you’re finished’ or treated you with contempt and pushed you aside for whatever reason?  Has someone told you that there’s no hope for you because of a mistake you’ve made?  There’s good news for you.  No mistake or sin is too big to be forgiven if you repent.  And if you repent, our God is a God of restoration.  His gift and His callings are uncompromised by your failures; only your ability to walk in them to the full.  Once you repent, He restores you – that’s a promise of God and He does not fail!

The second man was Shimei.  He was from the tribe of Benjamin, as was Saul. The Benjamites had accepted David as king but resented that he was from the tribe of Judah, not their own tribe.  While David was in power, they kept quiet, but seeing him banished and replaced by his son, they now considered him a ‘has-been’ and fair game for their criticisms.

People will often withhold their true feelings about a leader but let that leader make a mistake or be humbled in some way, they’ll be the first ones to come along and let that leader know exactly what they think of them!  Shimei had that chance now, seeing David without a crown and clothed in sackcloth.

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there.  His name was Shimei, son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left.  As he cursed, Shimei said, ‘Get out, get out, you man of blood, you scoundrel!  The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you reigned. The Lord has handed the kingdom over to your son, Absalom.  You have come to ruin because you are a man of blood.  2 Samuel,16:5-8

Notice: Shimei not only claimed to know God better than David did, but he also accused David of stealing Saul’s throne!  No one ever thought such a thing! But Shimei was a Benjamite and obviously resented a Judean ruling over him.  To our knowledge, David did nothing to harm Shimei personally so why such a vicious attack?

It is important to remember that when people attack you, especially if it’s vicious, many times you have done nothing to deserve it; it’s simply that they are jealous of you. Jealousy is that sin few people talk about but it’s deadly.  Perhaps we’ll deal with that in a different post.

Meanwhile, how did David react to Shimei’s attack?

  1. He refused to retaliate although he had the power to do so.  One of his men wanted to cut off Shimei’s head but David refused to allow it.  Vengeance is God’s prerogative, not ours.  We must remember that.
  2. David accepted the attack as God’s will.  But the king said, ‘What do you and I have in common, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David, then who can ask ‘Why do you do this?’  2 Sam. 16:10  David understood that Shimei was but a tool in the hands of God to humble David and he submitted without resentment. It was more important to David what God thought than what men thought.
  3. David understood that by accepting the chastening of the Lord, he put himself in a position where God could bless him in the future. ‘It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.’ (vs. 12)

David evidenced by his reaction to Shimei’s attack that his highest priority was to act in a godly manner regardless of what he faced.  He and the people arrived at their destination and there the LORD refreshed David.

psalm-23

Do you know that it was at that time that he wrote Psalm 23 and Psalm 37?  Psalm 23 is perhaps the most famous of all the psalms and it was birthed out of the midnight of David’s life.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures.

He leads me beside quiet waters; He restores my soul.

He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake;

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.

Application:

In the darkest hour of his life, David found his inspiration in God who had his undivided attention.  Does He have yours?

 

The Shepherd King – Part 31 January 17, 2017

In this week’s lesson we will review the events recorded in 2 Samuel 15 and see how King David handled himself after facing his own feelings and failures as we saw last week.

Perhaps no one ever felt more guilty than David. Though he was the greatest of Israel’s kings and the only man in scripture ever described as ‘after God’s own heart’, he was, nevertheless a failure morally and for a while, spiritually, for he lived unashamed for two years after committing adultery and murder.

And there were problems with his children as we read last week.  After receiving Absalom back with the help of Joab, his commander, David faced a new challenge.  Absalom had less than honorable ambition.

In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, ‘What town are you from?’ He would answer, ‘Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.’ Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.’ And Absalom would add, ‘If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that he receives justice.’ Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him.  Absalom behaved in this way towards all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the men of Israel.  2 Samuel 15:1-6

This passage describes Absalom’s devious plan for winning the hearts of the people so he could stage a successful coup against his father.  That disloyalty of son to father further exacerbated David’s sense of failure.

Failure is a reality of life; we all fail at times.  How do we cope with it?  Here’s the good news: our God is a God of second chances..and third…and fourth…Listen to what was written by Jeremiah:

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.  Lam. 3:22-23

He did this for David and He does it for you.

At the end of four years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Let me go to Hebron and fulfill a vow I made to the LORD. While your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: If the LORD takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.’ The King said to him, ‘Go, in peace.’ So Absalom went to Hebron.  2 Sam. 15:7-9

This may indeed be the greatest challenge God set before King David – the deceit and rebellion of his son, Absalom.

The issue here is greatness vs. smallness.  We are talking about issues of character.

Absalom was a ‘small’ man, not in stature but in character.  How do we know that? Let’s look at the evidence.

  1. he capitalized on his attractive appearance.  The Bible says ‘In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom.’ 2 Sam. 14:25
  2. he capitalized on his personality. He knew how to ‘work a crowd’, as the saying goes. He knew just what to do to capture the loyalty of the people – he used flattery.
  3. he made himself look good by making the King, his father, look bad.  Trying to win attention or affection from people by making someone else look bad is gross immaturity at the least and downright prideful and cruel at most.
  4. he went so far as to ‘use’ his supposed relationship with God in his pursuit of power. The Bible talks about having an ‘appearance’ of godliness but not the reality. Absalom is a consummate example of that.
  5. He could not wait for God to exalt him; he was impatient and strong-willed. And because he was a ‘small’ man, he seized the throne instead of being content with his position in life.

There can be no doubt that Absalom’s behavior grieved and saddened his father.  But let’s look at how he responded to the conspiracy against him.

  1. David refused to defend himself.  Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, ‘Come! We must flee…’ (vs. 14) This is completely out of character for the David we have come to know, one of the greatest and most courageous military leaders ever.  But in this situation his attitude is: Whether I lose the throne or not is up to God. I will let Him handle this crisis.
  2. David was reluctant to put others in harm’s way. So the king set out with all the people following him, and they halted at a place some distance away.  All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king. The king said to Ittai, the Gittite, ‘Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. And today shall I make you wander about with us when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your countrymen.  May kindness and faithfulness be with you.vs. 17-20  By showing concern for these foreigners, David demonstrated that he was the opposite of Absalom, who thought only of himself and his own advancement.
  3. David let go of what was precious to him – the very thing God had promised him – the kingship.  The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by.  The king also crossed the Kidron Valley and all the people moved on towards the desert…David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went…vs. 23, 30
  4. David refused to manipulate the glory of God, to ‘use’ the presence of God for his own profit.  Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the Covenant of God…Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Take the ark of God back into the city.’  vs. 24-25  The Ark of the Covenant symbolized the glory and the presence of God.  If Zadok and the priests carried it out of the city following David, the people would have said,’The ark of God is with David so we should support him instead of Absalom.’  But David said: Take it back where it belongs – to Jerusalem.  He refused to ‘use’ the Ark of God against his enemy.
  5. David submitted himself on the sovereignty and mercy of God.  The king commanded Zadok to take the Ark back to Jerusalem and added: If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, He will bring me back and let me see it and His dwelling place again.  But if He says, ‘I am not pleased with you’, then I am ready.  Let Him do to me whatever seems good to Him.’ vs. 25-26

Here is a man whose heart was profoundly changed.  He is humble before the LORD.

Humility is one of the clearest signs of spiritual maturity.  He did not say, ‘Lord, why is this happening to me? You sent your prophet to anoint me king, remember?’  Rather, with utmost humility, he walked away from Jerusalem barefoot in sackcloth and ashes.

David lived another twenty years after this and as we will see in the next lessons, God was indeed most gracious to David for the rest of his life.

Application:

Our failures can plunge us into guilt and despair; or, like David, we can learn from our failures, humble ourselves and receive the Lord’s mercy and see His faithfulness.  The difference is repentance and faith; acknowledge and repent that you and you alone are the reason for your failures, no one else; then turn to God in faith that with His forgiveness comes another opportunity to turn your mess into a miracle – to grow you up into spiritual maturity.

 

 

The Shepherd King – Part 30 January 10, 2017

2 Samuel 14

In this chapter we find that King David was behaving strangely, for he was not on speaking terms with his son Absalom.

The apparent reason for this was that Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon as we discussed last week. Amnon had become so hopelessly infatuated with his half-sister Tamar that he lured her to his house and raped her. Then his passion suddenly died and he callously threw her out onto the street. Deeply distressed, Tamar fled to take refuge with her brother Absalom (2 Sam. 13:20).

Realizing that his father was not going to punish Amnon, two years later Absalom took the law into his own hands and killed him. Then he fled to Syria, where he remained for the next three years (2 Sam. 13:23-38). This appeared to be the apparent cause of David’s behavior, but Joab knew there was another, deeper reason for it for Joab knew that his uncle had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband to cover it up. In other words, Joab knew that David had a skeleton in his closet.

Seeing the effect it was having on the king, he decided to put things right and reconcile David with his son. The Bible says: Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. 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. Then go to the king and speak these words to him.’ And Joab put the words into her mouth. When the woman from Tekoa went to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honor, and she said, ‘Help me, O king!’ The king asked her, ‘What is troubling you?’ ‘I am indeed a widow; my husband is dead. 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. Now 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. . .’ ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ [David] said, ‘not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground’ (2 Sam. 14:1-7, 11).

Seeing that her story had touched the king, the wise woman added, ‘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? Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him’ (vv. 13-14). David was persuaded to allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem: The king said to Joab, ‘Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom’ (v. 21). So Absalom returned to Jerusalem. However, although he had not seen his son for two years, David still could not bring himself to speak to him for he was still nursing a grudge against Absalom for killing his brother.

We may hide the skeleton in our closet, but we cannot hide the effect that it has on us, no matter how hard we try. Some people act very prim and proper, as if by being unflappable, they atone for their past. Others are moody and irritable or hold a deep grudge. Some people become judgmental, while others are very defensive and quick to take offense. The secret sins we hide can affect our whole personality.

There are three types of skeletons that we hide in our closets. The first type is what I would call an imaginary skeleton. Some people think God cannot and/or will not forgive them for what they have done; in their eyes it is unforgiveable.  But the Bible says that when we repent, God forgives.  I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25  That skeleton needs to get out of the closet by bowing to the authority of God’s Word.

The second type of skeleton I would call an involuntary skeleton. This haunts a person who has done nothing wrong but is suffering because of the wrongdoing of others. Victims of sexual abuse or bullying often think that they must have done something to cause it and suffer needless guilt and shame, often refusing to talk with anyone about it.

The third type is an actual, acquired skeleton: you have one because of something you did or said. David had committed adultery and murder and then ‘stuffed it in a closet’ by covering it up. Perhaps your skeleton is not so bad as that, but you still want no one to know what you have done.

Harboring skeletons is crippling.  It certainly was in David’s life.  Because of his sin with Bathsheba, guilt and shame had made him ineffective in dealing with Absalom, which set a bad example to the people over who he reigned. His grudge against Absalom affected his ability to function rightly as King and as father.

Secondly, harboring skeletons is common.  We all have something we are ashamed of and hope no one ever finds out about it. We tend to protect ourselves with masks so that people will like us.

Thirdly, there is good news: harbored skeletons can be cleansed. To his credit, Joab recognized that the only thing that would put the situation right would be a reconciliation with Absalom. So once again he mediated between father and son, and this time he succeeded in persuading David to meet Absalom.

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’ (v. 33).

absalom-pardoned

What a moment! David had thought that he could never bring himself to forgive Absalom, but finally he did, thanks to the intervention of another. David had neither the initiative nor the emotional fortitude to approach Absalom, but when Joab interceded and reconciled him with his son, David finally came to terms with his feelings.

Application:

If you have ever wondered whether God could – or – has really forgiven you, wonder no more.  His Word is absolutely dependable.  When we repent, He forgives.

If you have carried secret shame over something that happened to you in the past, give it to God today and let Him release you from the burden of harboring that painful secret.

If you have a “valid” skeleton – if something you did or said in the past haunts you, and you know you’ve repented of it but it still plagues your mind, I want to encourage you today to let it go once and for all.  You ARE forgiven if you repented.  God said through Isaiah that He wouldn’t even remember our sins.  So…if He doesn’t remember it, why should you?  Is it that you have not forgiven yourself??? Why hold a grudge against yourself when the God who created you doesn’?

May we all live with emotionally empty closets!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Shepherd King – Part 29 January 3, 2017

Welcome to 2017 – may this year find each of us growing spiritually in new and deeper ways than every before.

When the prophet Nathan confronted King David for his sin with Bathsheba, one of the results that David would suffer because of it is found in 2 Samuel 12:10-11

Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.  Thus says the Lord, Behold I will raise up evil against you from your own household… 

In the next chapter, 2 Samuel 13, we find the prophet’s word coming to pass.

amnontamar

David’s son, Amnon, becomes infatuated with his half-sister, Tamar.  Deciding he must have her, he lied to his father, tricked Tamar into being alone with him and then raped her.  His lust then turned to hatred and he threw her out of his house.  Two years later, Tamar’s brother, Absalom, killed Amnon to avenge his sister and David, father of all three of them, grieved profoundly for his children.  What a sad state of affairs in the family!

Some would say that Nathan could well have returned and said to David: ‘I told you so.’  But I strongly doubt it for that is not God’s way.  We know from Ezekiel 18:23 that God derives no pleasure from the death of the wicked but rather desires their repentance that they may live.

Others have used this situation as a springboard for reminding us that we are accountable for our sins.  In other words, at the final judgment, neither Absalom or Amnon will be able to say to God, ‘If my father hadn’t committed adultery and murder, I wouldn’t be in this situation!‘  That won’t fly before the Throne of the Almighty!

Still others have pointed out that David was an imperfect father – as if there is any perfect father apart from God Himself.   As he was a man after God’s own heart, the author of so many magnficent psalms and a forerunner of the Messiah, one would think he could have seen through the deception of Amnon, but he didn’t.  However, that does not let Amnon, nor Absalom, off the hook!  They will answer for their own sins.

The rise of modern psychology has yielded many benefits but also provided to the irresponsible a way of excuse.  ‘It’s my parents’ fault I’m this way….’ or ‘if I’d had a better relationship with my teachers, I wouldn’t be this way…’  Wrong!  You and you alone are responsible for your decisions.  Excuses may work on the psychologist’s couch but it won’t work at the final judgment.

It is a mark of maturity to own one’s failures: face them, admit them, don’t whitewash them but repent and take steps to learn from them to become a better person.  Failure doesn’t have to be final; our failures can become stepping stones to greatness – IF – and ONLY IF – we will humble ourselves to confess, repent and learn from our unholy behavior.

The prophet Jeremiah wrote: The heart is deceitful above all things an beyond cure. Who can understand it?  Jer. 17:9  The worst deception is when we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re just fine when we’re far from it!

Sexual sins are not the only ‘fatal attraction.’  Money, prestige, ambition and power can also propel us into colossal moral failure.

The account of Amnon and Tamar shows us five ways of recognizing spiritual danger when it presents itself.

  1. Presumption – you presume that something is all right because it appeals to you.  Amnon confused physical attraction with ‘love’.  Because it ‘looks good’ doesn’t make it right.  That, after all, was the downfall of Eve in the Garden of Eden.
  2. Preoccupation – having accepted the thought of what you want, you begin to entertain that thought until it becomes nearly or actually an obsession.  That’s when self-discipline goes out the window. If you’re frustrated that a plan of yours is not working out, it just may be the kindness of God trying to keep you from doing something very foolish.
  3. Peer Pressure – choose your friends wisely.  Amnon’s friend, Jonadab, encouraged Amnon to deceive his sister in order to get her to be alone with him.  Some friend he was!  Amnon welcomed the ‘peer pressure’ because it confirmed what he wanted. A faithful friend will lead you towards holiness, not away from it.
  4. Pretense – when you have to lie to get your way, it is always a huge warning that you’re on the wrong path.  Jonadab said to Amnon: ‘Go to bed and pretend to be ill..’
  5. Pressure – once Tamar was in the room alone with him, Amnon exerted great pressure on her to sleep with him.  He had no consideration for her feelings and any common sense he might have had went out the window when lust took over.

Application:

Truth and integrity always lead to freedom of spirit. Manipulating other people to satisfy one’s own desires is never OK.  Only integrity of character frames godly and spiritually productive relationships.

May all of our relationships in this new year be characterized by the freedom that integrity brings.