Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Tale of Tamar
Gen. 38:11 Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up”—for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
2Sam. 13:1 ¶ Some time passed. David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister whose name was Tamar; and David’s son Amnon fell in love with her.
2Sam. 13:2 Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her.
2Sam. 13:20 ¶ Her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar remained, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom’s house.
2Sam. 14:27 There were born to Absalom three sons, and one daughter whose name was Tamar; she was a beautiful woman.
Matt. 1:3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram,
There are very few references in the Bible to women by the name of Tamar. One is Judah's daughter-in-law whom he refused to give in marriage to his youngest son, as was required by law. She was involved in a sexual scandal in which she seduced her father-in-law into sleeping with her and she became pregnant with twin boys. However, this was because of the unfaithfulness of the father-in-law. He eventually repented and cared for her and the children.
King David had a beautiful daughter by the name of Tamar, but one of David's sons (by another woman) fell in love with her. Instead of asking his father if he could marry her, he raped her. This beautiful woman had her life completely destroyed by a brother and had to live out her life in desolation in her other brother, Absalom's home.
Absalom had one daughter, and he named her Tamar -- presumably after his sister for whom he grieved.
We finally meet Tamar again where she is graciously restored by being listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
Tamar is an ancient Hebrew name, the root of the contemporary name, Tamara, or Tammy. For many years the name was not used, for the tale of Tamar was shameful. The name was associated with sexual controversy! And the women had to bear the shame of what had happened to them.
How often is it true that women have to bear the shame of how they have been treated? What did any of these Tamars ever do to deserve the treatment that they received? It seems as if the only indictments we can find against them is that they were beautiful and that they tried to talk the men into doing the right thing. And yet, they have borne the brunt of the punishment throughout history.
Just last evening we received breaking news here in the Cleveland area. Three women were found that had been missing for ten years. While we don't yet know the details, it appears that they were being held as sexual slaves. But how will history remember these women? Will they be tainted because of what was done to them? And what about the fact that four children were found in the home as well -- and what will their life story be?
The good news is that the tale of Tamar ends in redemption. Every time we encounter a Tamar, there is some type of restoration of this woman and this is the good news that we find in Jesus Christ. The Tamar of Genesis ends up in Jesus' very own story. Jesus takes a woman and a name from history and lets all of history know that she was a righteous woman! She is remembered in the story and is revered as one of those who brought forth the Messiah. The sister of Absalom is redeemed through the new Tamar. By naming his beautiful daughter Tamar, Absalom is setting right the wrongs of the past. She is now, once again, beautiful and unsullied.
Any one of us could find ourselves somewhere in one of the Tamars. The world would like to tell us that what we have experienced in life has ruined us. But Jesus came to change all of that and we believe in the redemptive powers of the Holy Spirit. Yes, we may have had a tale like a Tamar, but we can be a beautiful Tamara or Tammy today through his working in us. Let the past be the past and let the Lord redeem that which was lost. May the world stop judging, for Jesus has! The tale of Tamar brings us to understanding resurrection power; physical, emotional and even reputation resurrection. He has the power to do it all.
Lord, I'm afraid that so often we fail to see the depths of the power of your resurrection to set us free from the past. We praise you and thank you and glorify you today! Please help me to minister to the Tamars you put in my path. Amen.