“And Jonadab said unto (Amnon), ‘Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.’”
II Samuel 13: 5
King James Version
“A Deceitful Concoction”
“No wickedness on earth is more common than the various forms of deceit.”
William S. Plumer
Have I ever “concocted” a lie in order to get what I wanted?
Has a deceitful act ever been committed against me?
How did it make me feel?
“Oh! What a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!”
“He was so crooked, you could have used his spine for a safety-pin.”
The quote above comes from the book, The Nine Taylors, written in 1934. However, if you were to look at the headlines of many news stories today, you would think these words were describing the lives of people right now from politicians to pastors. Somewhere in the world we live, truth has gone missing. Just the other day, my husband Jim and I were talking about a situation in our own lives and I asked Jim this question, “How would you like to live in a world where you knew for certain what you were being told was absolutely and without question, true?” Wouldn’t it be refreshing to know that when someone told you something, you could count on it being 100% accurate? While this is not the case here on earth, God promises that in our heavenly home, there will not be any one who, “maketh a lie.” (Revelation 21: 27).
It is this phrase, “maketh a lie” which is at the heart of our devotional for today, because as the text in II Samuel 13: 5 tells us, in order for Amnon to get what he wanted, Jonadab, his cousin, helped him concoct a lie.
As a young girl, my mother always did the cooking in our house. There was a very good reason for this, my mom is a terrific cook. But every once in awhile, my dad would step in and make one of his special “concoctions,” as he called them. I hadn’t heard the word “concoction” used before but I got the idea that it must mean something like throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pan and seeing what it turned out to be. In Daddy’s case, this is exactly what happened. Some of his “concoctions” became family favorites while others weren’t repeated, if you know what I’m talking about!
The word “to concoct” does mean a combination of ingredients like the dishes my dad made. But it can also mean to devise a plan. Interestingly, both of these definitions are applicable when we look at the story of the interaction between Amnon and Jonadab. Already we know that Jonadab was crafty, wily and deceitful. The Bible describes him this way. Jonadab’s behavior reminds me of the Russian Proverb which says “The wolf will hire himself out very cheaply as a shepherd.” Jonadab came to Amnon, his cousin, as a friendly helper, but underneath lurked the fangs of a poisonous serpent, whose goal was to help Amnon deceive his father, David.
These two young men concocted or devised a plan to help Amnon get what he craved. They decided to throw in a variety of ingredients which included Amnon pretending he was ill. But there were a few more things in this plan they whipped up. Amnon asked his father, David, to enlist the help of Tamar as a personal chef at his bedside. Amnon also “played” on the fact that having a dad who evidently wasn’t around for too long, would make it possible for him to carry out this charade until David left his presence.
A deceitful event, staged to get Amnon what he wanted. And without knowing all the facts, David fell prey to the scheming plan.
Unfortunately for David, having been an individual who “concocted” a few deceitful plans of his own, it wasn’t a pleasant matter to later find out the wool had been pulled over his eyes and he’d been duped into believing Amnon was really sick. Thus, David ended up sending his own daughter, Tamar, into a trap where she was used, abused and raped.
Having such a clear view of how deceitful behavior can destroy our lives and end in tragedy and heartache for all concerned, it would do us well to remember the words of the Apostle Paul to his Christian friends in Philippi. I find the entire chapter of Philippians 4 to be a Guidebook of Heavenly Living. Here Paul encourages the people living in a very worldly environment with these words:
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4: 7,8).
How interesting that the Apostle Paul lists the first two areas our mind should focus on as truth and honesty. In a world where truth has been relegated to an “old-fashioned” notion this may not play well with contemporary society’s rules of the game. However, in the words of the mighty preacher D. L. Moody, which are totally applicable to our study, “The best way to show that a stick is crooked is not to argue about it or to spend time denouncing it, but to lay a straight stick alongside it.”
May you and I choose to let our words be “straight sticks” no matter whether it is popular or gets us what we think we want. In the word of George Herbert:
“Dare to be true.
Nothing can need a lie.
A fault, which needs it most,
Grows two thereby.”
“A lie may take care of the present, but it has no future.”
A Prayer for Honesty
“Dear Heavenly Father,
May my heart be filled with a spirit of honesty.
May my daily life and thoughts be guided in the path of truthfulness.
May your spirit of truth, yield enrichment in all my relationships.
And may honesty prevail on earth as it is in heaven.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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