Tamar: 2 Samuel 13: Study Guide
Group Study Guide
Women and the Old Testament: Jesus’ Heart for Women Who’ve Suffered Abuse
Week 1: Monday March 1st- Sunday March 7th
Important note for the group leader:
If you decide to use this guide as a jumping off point for group discussion, it may be a good idea to first ask the participants to commit to a confidentiality agreement that makes sense for your group. It may also benefit the group to set up some ground rules about listening, respect and affirmation of experiences and feelings. This content can be incredibly personal and potentially re-traumatizing for some. A warning about the potential for traumatic topics should be given and discernment and reflection should be encouraged for each group member to be certain they are ready to process this kind of information in a group setting. My prayer is that you grow greatly and feel deeply encouraged by the material in this study. And that each person who participates feels more seen, known and loved by God in the process!
⚠️ Trigger Warning: rape, domestic abuse, & incest ⚠️
Tamar: 2 Samuel 13
Thank you for this safe space to hear your holy scripture in a new light. Tamar’s story holds abusers accountable and brings voice to women, although it is so difficult to hear. We know these themes of abuse this week are deeply troubling and may be traumatizing to some of us. Help us to hold each other in love and with a spirit of acceptance and grace as we reflect, discuss and seek your wisdom. We thank you for drawing this specific group together and we know you have purposes for us in this. We pray that silenced voices would be heard and that we would understand your love and mercy in a deeper way because of our conversation today. Please help us to know you more and to grow in our confidence of your love and radical acceptance and protection.
This week we learned about Tamar from 2nd Samuel. She is one of three Tamar’s in the Old Testament and her story is one of the most difficult to tell. Tamar was raped by her half-brother Amnon, and was immediately silenced by her other brother, Absalom afterwards. Although Absalom seemed to want to protect Tamar and enact revenge, it turned out he wanted power for himself and to seek the throne. David, Tamar’s father placed Tamar in danger, didn’t act to protect her, and didn’t act on her behalf to help her heal or hold his son accountable for his crime. Tamar’s story resonates with women who have experienced abuse today, espeically those who have expereinced sexual violence and have had to fight to have their voices heard, have felt rejected or have retreated out of fear of more powerful men.
Six takeaways from the study this week:
- Tamar’s story reminds us that abuse can happen anywhere. If it can happen in a royal prominent family in Israel it can happen to influential and sophisticated families in our midst
- Tamar was forced into silence by Absalom. There are always consequences when women are told to keep silent about abuse and it always produces more problems and further traumatizes victims.
- Tamar’s story was dominated by violence and a power struggle between men. Although Absalom wanted revenge on Amnon, in truth he was seeking power for himself to eventually take the throne from David.
- David’s sin of inaction greatly affected Tamar’s life, denying her justice and protection. There is a theme of a lack of accountability from men who were given power and influence.
- Misogynistic thinking is rooted in patriarchy and is directly linked to abuse. Objectification of Tamar caused David to not value or protect her life, allowed Amnon to rape her and caused Absalom to think he could control Tamar to take the throne.
- Tamar’s story invites us to write a better ending. After repenting of its history of ignoring issues of abuse, the church has an opportunity to invite listening and seek restitution for victims like Tamar.
Questions for reflection:
- Had you ever heard Tamar’s story from 2 Samuel before? If no, what was most surprising to you?
- In your experiences in church, who has held the most power and made final decisions in the church? Was it mostly or only men?
- Have you ever noticed women being referred to physically by pastors or teachers? Or preachers calling their wives “beautiful” or “smokin’ hot” or “gorgeous” or something similar? Has this ever bothered you? Why or why not?
- If a woman in your church were to have expereinced sexual violence, or domestic abuse, would she have a safe space to report it to another woman? Or would she be required to go to a man to discuss it?
- After learning about Tamar’s story, what practices or safety measures can the church put into place that can help prevent abuse from occurring? What needs to change?
- How did God speak to you through Tamar’s story this week?
- How do you think God is speaking to the church through Tamar’s story?