And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king's sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly.
2 Samuel 13:36
This family sorrow comes as a direct result of God's pronounced consequences upon David's sin. The upheaval in the royal family was inevitable. Through it all, David's moral indecision is remarkable. He seems powerless to act in an outrageous situation. And as time wore on it just got worse. The outcome of painful consequence that Nathan prophesied as a result of David's adultery and murder is coming to pass. The sword will not leave David's own house (2 Samuel 12:10).
The family conflict is gross, twisted, and complicated. David's oldest son, Absalom, had a sister named Tamar. David's other son, Amnon, was infatuated with his half-sister. Amnon's cousin, Jonadab, suggests a plan to lure her into seduction. Amnon follows the advice of a scoundrel and ends up raping his half-sister. Then in his shame and scorn, he sends her home. She is traumatized, abused, broken, and ashamed. David does absolutely nothing about it once he finds out. He just gets angry. And over two years, Absalom's seething, bitter rage toward Amnon just grows. It is the epitome of family dysfunction.
Absalom decides to deal with Amnon with his own sense of justice. He convenes a "party" for all the princes in Israel (David had many wives... there were a lot of the king's sons), and there Absalom executes a conspiracy that murders Amnon. In the chaos, all the king's sons flee and a confused report comes to David that Absalom has killed all his brothers. Eventually, when everyone returns to the palace, it is clear that Amnon alone was murdered by Absalom as a revenge killing for the incestuous rape of Tamar.
Sadly, David still does nothing. Over two years he sat idle over Amnon's sin. Now over a three year period he will do nothing to deal with Absalom's sin. David was a sexual predator himself to a degree. He had seduced Bathsheba. David was a murderer himself. He had killed Uriah with a complex conspiracy. Perhaps that is a reason for his moral paralysis. Both sons had done things he himself had done. But the brewing pain in this season of sorrow just kept making things worse.
When I read this account, I am warned that the consequences of my own sins are much deeper than I usually suspect. It forces me to admit that I don't always take sin as seriously as I should. And I know that God forgives. That is not the issue. But even in forgiveness, there are still consequences. It might still mean that sorrow will visit with sin's effects.
- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13