Phillipa Gregory, Liz Curtis Higgs, Francine Rivers…Historical fiction has impacted the way I read the Bible. Not in a bad way, I think. But stories in the Bible can read very short and flat sometimes. The work of these authors—their digging in, expounding and exploring the characters and times of events I can rattle off in a sentence or two—has helped me to look at my word with a fresh pair of eyes.
For example, last week I studied the story of Tamar. This poor girl. She was a daughter of King David, who was raped by her half brother Amnon and then lived with her other brother Absalom in desolation for the rest of her life.
When Tamar first tells her brother Absalom what happened, his reaction is less than stellar. He says, “Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet now, my sister; he is your brother. Don't take this thing to heart." (2 Sam 13:20). What kind of advice is that?! In my Bible study questions, Beth Moore asked “What is your personal opinion regarding the advice Absalom gave Tamar?” And a thought occurred to me. Maybe Absalom just didn’t know what to say. His poor attempt to comfort his sister came out all wrong. Maybe just like today, men don’t always say the right thing.
Absalom didn’t have a speech writer. And who really knows what to say in response to news like that? His later actions showed that he didn’t try to gloss over or minimize Tamar’s pain. He took her into his house. That was no small thing. He later avenges her honor and kills Amnon. Not the preferred way to solve the problem, but you see my point. He cared.
Just a thought. But I think it’s important to remember that, and give him a little wiggle room on his poor choice of comforting words.