II Samuel 13: 1-8
New American Bible
“A Father’s Time and Influence”
Influence: A power indirectly or intangibly affecting a person or event. Power to sway or affect based on prestige, wealth, ability, or status. To cause a change in the character, thought, or actions of others.
“Influence is the exhalation of character.”
W. M. Taylor
What thoughts come to my mind when I hear the word, “influence”?
How do I think my influence has affected others around me?
“I could tell where the lamplighter was by the trail he left behind him.”
“The world is a looking glass, and gives back to every man (and woman) the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it in turn will look sourly at you; laugh at it, and with it, and it is a jolly, kind companion.”
Welcome back to our continuing study on David and the women whose lives he interacted with.
Today, after a two-week detour in II Chronicles 20 where we found out first-hand the marvelous benefits of trusting our loving Father’s guiding hand no matter where it leads us, we are returning on our walk through the Bible as we study the lives of all the women from Genesis to Revelation.
We begin today where we left off with the story in II Samuel 13, a very sad account, to be certain.
Disregarding God’s instruction, David decided to take on the customs of the nations around him so he married multiple women who in turn had multiple children. How many exactly, we aren’t told. However, we do know that “girls” weren’t counted in the normal tally of children at this time so with at least six wives, whose names we know, David most likely had dozens of boys and girls who called him, “Dad.”
I don’t care how accomplished a person you are at multi-tasking, one father with multiple wives and children means something is going to fall between the cracks. And given the fact that David was also king over all of Israel and Judah, I don’t think I’m out-of-line by surmising that David’s children were a fairly low priority on his “to do” list each day. Just in case you think I’m being a little judgmental, a comment in our text today offers us insight which verifies what I just indicated.
We find Amnon, David’s son, fell for one of David’s daughters, Tamar. This was an unsavory lusting for sure. Well, it seems Amnon’s cousin came to visit and he observed that the love-sick Amnon was pining over the fact he couldn’t “have” his sister Tamar. So thinking that as the king’s son, Amnon shouldn’t be denied anything he set his eyes on, Jonadab (Amnon’s cousin), who was known to be wily and clever, set about hatching-up a plan to ensnare the unsuspecting Tamar.
And this is where an absentee father’s poor judgment resulted in a horrible act of rape being committed against David’s own little girl.
Jonadab told Amnon to lie in bed and pretend he was sick. And then he said, “When your father comes to visit, tell him to let Tamar come over and take care of you.” Evidently, David wasn’t around that much and so on a short visit, it would be easy to pull the wool over his eyes.
Not only did the planned shenanigan work out exactly as Jonadab and Amnon had planned, but the most despicable part of the story is that the Bible tells us it was David, himself, who “sent a message to Tamar, ‘Please go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some nourishment for him.’” As you might imagine, not wanting to defy her father’s will, Tamar obediently did as she was told, completely unaware she was walking into a trap set up by her contemptible brother and cousin.
Now let’s be clear, the two vile characters, Amnon and Jonadab, had no excuse for their loathsome behavior. But David was the dad, he was the head of the household, and his hands were not clean either. In fact, when we look closely, as we have, at the footprint David’s influence left, especially with those closest to him, like his own children, we find there wasn’t a lot to admire. David’s careless treatment of women did not leave an imprint for good on his sons. And thus, they stooped to even worse behavior than their own father when Amnon let his out of control lust propel him to rape his sister.
This brings me to the point in the story where David instructed his daughter to take care of Amnon. This is the reason I called today’s devotional “A Father’s Time and Influence.” (So you don’t think for one minute that I’m singling out men only, the title could just as easily have been “A Mother’s Time and Influence.”)
I have connected the words “time and influence” because they are inter-related. They are intertwined for it is extremely difficult to influence someone or something you don’t spend time with. We influence those around us most who have felt the loving touch of our presence. And please, please, don’t take this as a criticism of single-parent families. God bless all the single parents who have been there for their children. And this is why it is the touch of that person who is there, that many times has the greatest impact on our lives.
Had David had one wife and been a father who was with his children, the possibility exists that the terrible events, which transpired as a result of the rape of Tamar, may never have taken place.
In contrast to David’s life, I’d offer another example for us. The author James Stalker looked at the way Jesus “influenced” or “trained” the twelve disciples who, like His children, were left to carry on the legacy of His ministry. As Mr. Stalker notes, during Jesus time on earth, one element of His ministry was “little noticed, though it was producing splendid results – the silent and constant influence of His character on them (the disciples). It was this which made them the men they became.”
As I read these words, I was thoughtfully inspired to recognize that there is only one way for me, Dorothy, to be thoroughly influenced by Jesus, too. And it is to spend time with Him. Unlike David, I don’t have an absentee heavenly Father. He’s ready, able and available every hour, minute and second of every day. He has the time for me. And He will fill me with the influence of His life. The only question is, “What time will I give Him so my influence can become His influence through me?”
The Man Christ
“He built no temple, yet the farthest sea can yield no shore that’s barren of His place for bended knee.
He wrote no book, and yet his words and prayers are intimate on many myriad tongues, and are counsel everywhere.
The life he lived has never been assailed, nor any precept, as He lived it, yet has ever failed.
He built no kingdom, yet a King from youth He reigned, is reigning yet; they call His realm the kingdom of truth.”
“Drop a pebble in the water
And its ripples reach out far;
And the sunbeams dancing on them
May reflect them to a star.
Give a smile to someone passing,
Thereby making his morning glad;
It may greet you in the evening
When your own heart may be sad.
Do a deed of simple kindness;
Though its end you may not see,
It may reach, like widening ripples,
Down a long eternity.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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