These small group studies through the lives of David and Solomon contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

David’s Family Life – 2 Samuel 13 Inductive Bible Study


I. Amnon rapes Tamar (1-22)
II. Absalom murders Amnon (23-36)
III. Absalom flees (37-39)

I. Amnon rapes Tamar (1-22)

Discussion Questions

  • Who was Absalom’s mother?
  • What was the relationship between Amnon and Tamar?
  • What are the relevant Biblical commands/principles on this situation?
  • What can you learn about Amnon in verses 1-2
  • What was he planning to do about his desire? What changed his mind?
  • What kind of person was Jonadab? What principle can we learn from this about friendship?
  • How do you think David should have responded to Amnon’s request? Should David have guessed there was ill intent behind the request?
  • Trace the step by step progression of Amnon’s sin and the poor judgment of others which let this
  • tragedy happen? How could others have prevented this from happening?
  • What do you think about Tamar and her response to Amnon? Was she partially guilty? Why or why not?
  • What do we learn from Amnon’s reaction in verse 15? What does this teach us about his “love” for her? What is the difference between lust and genuine love?
  • How did Absalom react? How about David? Why do you think David didn’t punish Amnon? What was the lawful punishment for this crime?


  • Exodus 20:3 – The sins of the father effect the children to the 3rd or 4th generation.
  • Leviticus 18:9 – You shall not uncover the nakedness of your sister.
  • Deuteronomy 27:22 – “‘Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’
  • Exodus 22:16-17 – “If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the bride-price for virgins.
  • Deuteronomy 22:25-29 – The OT law on rape.
  • Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
  • Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
  • Matthew 5:28 – But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
  • 1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
  • Romans 8:6 – For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
  • 1 Peter 2:11 – Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
  • Galatians 6: 8 – For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
  • 2 Samuel 15:4 – Oh that there was a just judge in the land.
  • On Love – 1 Corinthians 13

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Amnon was David’s oldest child. Absalom was second. They were born of different mothers. As such they would have grown up in different households. At that time the sons of different “queens” would have generally seen each other as competitors, competitors for their father’s attention and competitors for the throne. We see this jealousy and competition among Jacob’s sons since he had four wives.

With David it would have been worse (and these chapters show it was), since he had more wives and since he was a king. Much of the problems in the next few chapters are partially due to David’s disregard for the command in Deuteronomy 17:17 for kings not to multiply wives for themselves.

Deuteronomy 17:17 – And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.

While Absalom was partially motivated to avenge the violation of his sister it is likely that a scheming person like him would have also wanted to use this situation to his advantage and make an attempt for the throne.

2. Fell in love – In this chapter we will see the pitfalls of the worldly view of love. Amnon would surely have been convinced in his own mind that he loved Tamar. His love felt so real. He had never felt anything so deep and so strongly before. He “loved” her so much that he felt physically ill since he knew he couldn’t have her. Amnon did not understand true love and neither do most people in the world today.

3. Jonadab’s suggestion – You can learn a lot about Amnon based on the people he hangs out with. Jonadab is a fool. He is a wicked counselor. He doesn’t value morals, right and wrong. But he is a clever schemer. He is worldly wise in the aspect that he can see a situation and try to find out a way (even a sinful way) to get what Amnon wants. It never hurts to have guanxi with a prince who is in line to be king, right? So Jonadab tries to come up with a plan to satisfy Amnon.

Amnon and Jonadab would have known the OT laws which were relevant to this situation. Read cross-references. Amnon was forbidden to sleep with Tamar or marry Tamar because she was his half-sister. If he asked David for her hand in marriage he would surely be denied. The OT law about forced sex is that the man must marry the woman (provided her father agrees). At first glance this would seem like a punishment for the woman. After all, what woman would want to get married to that kind of a man. On the other hand, at that time a woman who was not a virgin would almost certainly not find a husband. Without a husband, a woman would have a very difficult life. A husband provided support, protection, a home, and the opportunity for children. A woman without a husband would become desolate and poor like Ruth before she married Boaz.

So in the Old Testament God was actually a big protector of women. Soldiers at that time in history would just take what and who they wanted. But God said that a soldier must marry the woman (after giving her a month to mourn) if he wanted her. A man was not permitted to just take a woman he wanted. If he wanted a woman, he must marry her. There were no other choices.

Jonadab knew all of this. It seems his plan was to force David into a corner. If Amnon already had violated Tamar there would then be two different laws which could be applied (one about rape and one about incest). David would be forced to choose between executing Amnon or allowing the marriage. Jonadab and Amnon were betting that David would choose the latter. Tamar herself seemed to indicate that David would. It was a safe bet considering the sins David had recently done. It is likely he would have been in a merciful mood.

4. The scheme – Amnon carried out the scheme as Jonadab planned. Originally Amnon was unwilling to do anything to his sister since she was a virgin and evidently acted like one (it seems she is chaste.) But evil desires that are not dealt with tend to grow and grow. The more Amnon dwelt on this sinful desire the less self-control he had and the more opportunities to justify in his own mind what he was going to do.

Amnon asks everyone to go out. This gave him an opportunity to commit the sin and also meant that no one would hear Tamar if she screamed. This in turn meant that the rape law of “taking place in the countryside” would be applied meaning he could marry her for a price.

We should take note that sin loves the dark. For a young woman, there is safety in numbers. A young couple too will be safer from temptation if they surround themselves with godly friends. Being alone with a member of the opposite sex brings more temptation and more opportunity to sin. Like with David’s sin against Bathsheba, there isn’t one person here in this story who stands up to Amnon. No one asks, “why do you need to be alone with her?” David does not ask, “Why do you want Tamar instead of someone else?” Why? Someone might have felt a little weird about the whole series of events, but perhaps they thought, “Surely the king’s son wouldn’t do anything to her.” Or perhaps they didn’t think at all. Both proved to be very costly mistakes.

Application: We should think things through carefully and do our best to both avoid temptation and make sure others around us do as well. Do not be afraid to stand up and speak out if something feels out of place or inappropriate.

5. Tamar tries pleading with Amnon as a brother, but it doesn’t work. She mentions that David would be willing to give her to Amnon. It is not sure he would, but at this point she was desperate and just wanted to get out of there. Tamar rightly recognized that this was a disgraceful thing and Amnon was a fool for doing it.

6. Amnon hated her – He didn’t love her at all. He did lust for her. Now he felt guilty and self-loathing. In his guilt, he now hated Tamar. He couldn’t bear to be with her or to be near her for she reminded him of the horrible thing he had just done. Contrast the difference between lust and love. See cross-references. A person who “falls in love” can fall out of love too. We should instead choose to love according to the principles in God’s Word and do it unconditionally.

7. Tamar immediately began her mourning.

8. Discuss how David’s sin with Bathsheba may have influenced this situation. David had lost moral authority to be a leader in his own family. He had given a sinful model to his children. Beyond that his own guilt may have made him less strict toward sin than he should have been. We see in verse 21 that David was furious. But neither do we see him doing anything about it at all. He had done something even worse so he may have asked, “Who am I to punish Amnon? I am a hypocrite if I carry out judgment on him.” The sins of the father absolutely affect the children, sometimes for generations.

II. Absalom murders Amnon (23-36)

Discussion Questions

  • How long had Absalom been planning/waiting for a chance to get revenge on Amnon?
  • Why did Absalom invite all the kings sons? What was his scheme? Why did his servants comply? Did they have a choice?
  • Why didn’t Jonadab do anything if he knew that Absalom was holding this grudge against Amnon? Why does he speak up now?

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Absalom plans and schemes for two years. He is a schemer at heart. There is no forgiveness. There is no attempt at reconciliation. There is no attempt to convince Amnon to marry Tamar. He hates Amnon with a fury. Amnon must pay. In his mind, perhaps he considered it all the better that if he killed Amnon then he would be the eldest son and in line for the throne. Absalom invited everyone because he knew it would look suspicious if he invited only Amnon.

2. Absalom commands his servants to kill Amnon and they do. Once again we see servants who never stop to think or ask why they are obeying a wicked command.

3. Jonadab – For whatever reason Jonadab was still around David. Although he largely started this mess he of course doesn’t take any blame or responsibility. Instead he uses the situation to try to gain more influence with the king and improve his favor with the royal family even more. He knew that Absalom was carrying a grudge, but had done nothing to stop it. This shows that he never really cared about Amnon at all. If he had cared for Amnon as a real friend he would have warned him. He didn’t. He viewed Amnon as a tool to gain something for himself. What does this show us about friendship? We need to be careful to make the right friends. We should surround ourselves with friends who care for us, not people who want to use us. That means we must be willing to listen to them when they tell us things which we don’t want to hear.

III. Absalom flees (37-39)

Discussion Questions

  • Who is David mourning about in verse 37? What do you think he was mourning about specifically?
  • Why did the king not go to Absalom since he wanted to?

See some more points:

Next: David’s Song of Praise
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