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?…But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. Her 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 to heart.” And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman. 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 13:11-14, 20-22
In the first part of this series, we established how silence in the face of injustice is evil. We can start reversing that trend by making an effort to understand the effects of silence.
I cannot explain the intricacies of every type of injustice that people experience. Whether it is abuse, betrayal, racial, etc.—each one is unique and brings its own circumstances. But silence in the face of injustice often brings out a common experience for the victim. I want to share that experience through the story of Tamar.
Here is a brief summary for those
who are unfamiliar with this story.
Amnon developed an obsession for his sister, Tamar. He pretended to be sick so that he could have King David send Tamar to his home to tend to him. So Tamar did as her father asked. But Amnon raped her when she came.
Amnon threw her out of his home. Tamar then covered herself in ash and tore her clothes in anguish. Absalom (her brother) and King David did nothing about it. The text goes on to say that Tamar went on to live in Absalom’s home (instead of her current home with David) as a desolate woman.
It is easy to see the injustice that Tamar went
through. But there is another level of pain she
experienced after her brother abuses her.
I do not know what Tamar was thinking when she got thrown out. But I have to imagine she is repeating her own words:
Where could I get rid of my disgrace? | 2 Samuel 13:13
She probably thought she could go to her brother, Absalom. But he tells her:
Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart. | 2 Samuel 13:20
Surely, she must’ve believed her father would do something. But again her injustice was met with silence, as King David did nothing.
Absalom told her to be quiet and that it was not a big deal. Absalom and David did not even say a word to Amnon. David did not even bring her back home.
Where is Tamar to turn when her own
brother and father refuse to speak up for her?
To understand the pain of the silence, we have to go back to her words again: “Where could I get rid of my disgrace?”
She covered herself with ashes and tore her clothes. Instead of acting like the daughter of a king, she treated herself like trash. She felt unworthy and filled with shame. One might say, “But she didn’t do anything wrong. Someone did something bad to her.”
This is true, but how do one’s pain and shame go away when they seek justice but are only met with silence? Nothing is resolved. They must continue to live with it.
Job was righteous but felt this same shame himself:
Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. | Job 10:15
Tamar was looking for someone to help rid of her disgrace, hoping for justice, but instead, she was ignored. Instead of being rid of her disgrace, she was forced to live with it.
A co-worker told me about how he
experienced racial discrimination in school.
The kids would throw racial slurs at him on a daily basis, and some teachers would treat him like he was beneath them. He told other teachers, but they didn’t do much about it. The most they did was a simple warning to other kids not to say things like that.
He felt like no one cared and there was no hope for change. After a while, he started to think less of himself. He thought he would never be accepted at his school or have friends. He saw his race as something that made him less of a person.
Just like Tamar, he looked for justice
but was met with silence. Silence leads to
a shame that should never be there.
It leads to loneliness when you are left to deal with your injustice alone. It leads to a lack of trust in people to do what’s right when they don’t care about your pain enough to do anything about it.
Where can we go to
be rid of our disgrace?
There are a lot of similarities between Tamar and Jesus:
- They both were sent by their fathers to go serve
- They both suffered injustice by the ones they came to serve
- They were both rejected
- Both their loved ones kept silent
Jesus went through that and more so that our injustices would not be our story. We have a new story.
Colin Smith Explains our new story:
“Think of Tamar with the ashes in her hair. She put them on her head to convey her sense of shame: “the LORD has anointed me … To give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes” (Isa. 61:1, 3). The headdress is a sign of dignity and honor. Christ can take the ashes of your shame and crown you with his steadfast love (Psa. 103:4), and he will pour that into your soul so that over time it will become a means of healing. Picture Tamar in her royal robe. She tore it because she no longer felt worthy to wear it. But Christ clothes his people in a new robe of righteousness. In the book of Revelation, we get a great company of redeemed people. They are clothed in white robes, and they are not crying out in agony, they are shouting in triumph: “Salvation belongs to our God… and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:10). | Colin Smith, “Where Can I Go With My Shame”
Your injustice is a part of your story, but it is not the ending. It does not define you.
The ending Jesus
bought for you is your story.
It is not lonely. It does not lack trust. And it is filled with glory.