Unchecked Passion

Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother.  But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, ‘Come, lie with me, my sister.’ She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate me..; do not do this outrageous thing… But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, ‘Get up! Go!’ When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar… ‘Absalom has struck down [Amnon].’ ..And David mourned for his son day after day. So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. And the spirit of the king longed to go out to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead..” “Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Samuel 13:10-12,14-15,21-22,30,32,37-39; 2 Corinthians 7:1

The vestiges of passion-gone-wild in David trickled down to his sons, and sadly, when untempered and undisciplined, in ways that would bring deep dissension and heartbreak to the family and nation. Amnon’s sexual desire deemed “love” grew uncontrolled, and fueled, rather than checked, by his cousin, brought shame and brokenness upon his half-sister Tamar, even as it immediately flared in hatred toward her. Anger and bitter vengefulness then grew in her brother Absalom. This went unchecked by their father David, who, though aware of what had transpired, probably struggled in knowing what to do since he had been guilty (yet forgiven) of the same unbridled passion. After two years of fomenting rage, Absalom arranged for Amnon’s murder, then fled in fear (and guilt?), triggering more mourning, separation, eventual divisiveness whose stain would linger through generations.

Red japanese maple

At any one point, the Lord calls out ‘Come, cleanse yourself! Turn! You are Mine!’ But caught up in the fury of passion, whatever the cause or object, we get muddied our ability to think rightly, and undependable emotions take control. Our ears fail to hear His invitation because of louder rage, our wills so tenaciously cling to rights, defenses, lusts, that we react rather than reasonably respond. Roots of bitterness and self-will are dangerous culprits in determining our life-course, and when not yanked out of our heart-soil, will wreak havoc with relationships and inner peace. (Matthew 13:20-22; Hebrews 12:15)

Where has the gift of passion gone astray, creeping into places where it ought not rule? Would we daily ask God to search, dig, redirect? Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Great Lord, may my only unchecked passion be for Thee. Pull out all my stops in loving, rejoicing in, serving, and honoring You, King of kings.

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