One of the key lessons we learn from the life of David is that the consequences of sin are real. Sin destroys lives, relationships, and families. We learn that immorality creates dysfunction in families.
While David found forgiveness and grace after his sin with Bathsheba, the consequences of his sin for both him and his family were very real and painful. Nothing would be the same after David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba. The trajectory of his life changed course in chapter 11, and his family was tragically impacted.
Here are four ways sin destroys families, as evidenced in the story of Amnon (David’s oldest son) and Tamar (Amnon’s half sister) in 2 Samuel 13.
1. Sin is selfish.
“But he refused to listen to her … he disgraced her by raping her” (2 Sam. 13:14).
In the account of Amnon’s rape of Tamar (13:1-14), it seems obvious that Amnon was accustomed to getting his own way. When he couldn’t have his way (with Tamar), he plotted an evil scheme to forcibly and selfishly take what he desired.
Selfishness is the enemy and destroyer of relationships; it is the antithesis of love. Genuine love “is not self-seeking” (1 Cor. 13:5). Love unites; selfishness separates. Without exception, each of us has tendencies toward selfishness.
2. Sin causes us to treat people as objects.
“So Amnon hated Tamar with such intensity that the hatred he hated her with was greater than the love he had loved her with” (2 Sam 13:15).
The so-called “love” Amnon had earlier proclaimed for Tamar (v. 4) was not love, but lust. Lust, on the surface, may resemble love, but on closer examination has more in common with hate than with love. Love sacrifices for the good of others; lust uses people as objects of self-gratification.
Like father, like son. Recall how David “saw a woman bathing—a very beautiful woman” (11:2). Of course, she wasn’t just a very beautiful woman. David was informed she had a name (Bathsheba). She was someone’s daughter (Eliam). She was someone’s wife (Uriah) (11:3). None of that had mattered to David. At that pivotal moment, he had looked at Bathsheba as an object of pleasure. The sin sown by the father was harvested in his son Amnon.
3. Sin leads to greater sin.
“But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (Jas. 1:14-15).
How is the pattern of James 1:14-15 evidenced in 2 Samuel? David’s immorality created dysfunction in his family that led to more immorality. His lustful look had led to adultery, which then led to murder. Amnon’s rape of Tamar started a tragic chain of events that included murder and rebellion.
4. Sin has consequences.
“For whatever a person sows he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
No one gets away with sin. Not even the man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). God forgave David, but He did not remove all the consequences. The consequences of David’s sin tragically worked their way through his family.
All our sins can be forgiven in Christ, but all sins have consequences. The good news of the gospel is that the grace of God offers hope and healing—even within the context of living with sin’s consequences.
Mike Livingstone works at Lifeway Christian Resources as content editor for Explore the Bible materials. He also blogs occasionally at mikelivingstone.com.