February 9, 2014

Reading Psalm 84:1-7, 10-12; 2 Samuel 13:1-22 (NRSV)

Psalm 84 calls God’s dwelling place lovely and joyful; it is a safe place, where vulnerable creatures like mother birds and their babies are protected. Unfortunately, life is frequently not so safe for the vulnerable.

In today’s story in Samuel, tragic choices tear a family apart. David is the king of Israel: Absalom and Amnon are his sons. Absalom also has a sister, Tamar. Amnon pretends to be sick to get close to Tamar, then takes advantage of the private moment to rape her.

The story-teller gives Tamar significance by naming this vulnerable woman and recounting her words of protest before and after her rape. Tamar does not hide her feelings or act as if it did not happen. She tears her clothes and puts ashes on her head; she cries aloud in her grief.

Amnon does not listen to her protest. Absalom tells her not to take it to heart. King David denies her justice.

Where is the safe haven of home and family in this story? Where is God’s protection against violence and betrayal?

God’s protection depends also on us. If we are to recreate God’s safe dwelling place for the vulnerable, we must listen, hold people’s hurts as important, and seek justice for the wronged.

Let us pray. O, God, forgive us for letting momentary wants lure us toward violence against others. May we listen before acting, and provide a safe haven for your vulnerable ones. Amen.

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