Stages of Growth: “As the Heart Turns” – 2 Samuel 13:21-38

In the continuing saga of the dysfunctional but royal family of Judah, the unbridled passions gave way to sinful practices. In their wake, the unhealthy way of dealing with the conflicts gave way to explosions in the home. Does anyone think this may be relevant today?

Key Principle: Unresolved conflict is growing conflict. Healing is impossible without resolution!

Axiom #1: Unresolved conflict goes underground! (13:21-22a).

David heard about the rape of his daughter by Amnon, and he became very angry, but failed to act on the information. Amnon carried on as if he hadn’t done anything wrong! (13:21-22a). Amnon appeared to have gotten away with it. Two years have gone past and who knows how many young girls fell victim to his schemes. There are so many things which come back later in life and in time to haunt us. Even those things which we thought were a sure bet, come trailing after us. Unresolved conflict smolders like something burning underground. On a Discovery channel special, some Canadian park rangers were seen digging holes around a camp site located deep in the wilderness of the Algonquin Provincial Park. The rangers were digging like mad and taking buckets of lake water and pouring it into the holes. When asked what was going on they said that they were putting out a fire. The on camera host was stunned, as he didn’t see any flames. They explained that it was a root fire. Someone had built a campfire where there was a root close to the surface. From there the fire had spread underground to several trees. You can’t see them, but you could feel the heat coming from the ground. The rangers said that if they did not put it out, it would burn down the entire island. There may be an underground fire in your home. You may be good at hiding it, but the heat is there, and if it is not put out it may burn down your home. You have to get to the root cause and put out the fire. You have to dig down and expose the fire to put it out. You have to open your heart to the other person and allow them to come in.

Axiom #2: Unresolved conflict turns yesterday’s anger is today’s bitterness! (13:22b)

Absalom, brother of Tamar and half-brother of Amnon grew bitter in anger but did not speak to Amnon about the rape (13:22b). Look at the fruit of the unresolved anger in Absalom’s life!

  1. It gave him a fixation and desire for revenge that likely kept him from accomplishing great things.
  2. It led him to concoct a plan and hide the truth.
  3. It led Absalom into believing that he should be the one to repay Amnon. Absalom knew that by the laws of that day, the only punishment Amnon would experience would be to marry Tamar without ever being able to divorce her. This was not sufficient for Absalom, he wanted to be the judge and jury.
  4. It kept Tamar desolate and depressed in her home with no hope of getting a just solution.
  5. It put Absalom together with Jonadab, a slippery friend who alone seemed to know the plan Absalom made.

A man by the name of Steve Tran of Westminster, CA closed the door after activating 25 bug bombs in his apartment. He figured that the more he used the longer it would work. The fumes spread to the pilot light in his stove causing a great explosion, which knocked his door down and burned all of his furniture resulting in $10,000 worth of damages. Tran then reported by the following Sunday he already saw the roaches walking around again. Steve allowed his anger for the roaches to consume him causing destruction, and the problem was still there.

Axiom #3: Unresolved conflict will make sides develop. (13:23-28).

He waited two years, and eventually invited the whole royal family. David declined to go, but gave permission for the others to go. (2 Samuel 13:22b-25). Absalom asked David’s permission to have Amnon attend the party. David at first declined, then was talked into allowing Amnon by Absalom. (13:26-27). Absalom quietly gathered and instructed some men to kill Amnon, when and how he commanded. Hesitant, they needed to be encouraged by Absalom. (13:28). Do you see it? Absalom uses the same method Amnon used earlier to rape Tamar. Both boys got an unsuspecting and busy dad to aid them in their plotting against right behavior. Next Amnon got others involved in his sin, giving them the dirty work. Absalom reminds me of the lady reported on in a recent story I read: In a San Francisco paper an ad displayed that read, “1984 Mercedes 240 LS, fully loaded. First $50 gets the car.” A man read this and called to see if it was a misprint. To his surprise it was not. He rushed over there and gave the woman the $50 and as she handed over the title to the car he asked why she was selling it for so cheap. Se replied, “My husband just called from Las Vegas where he is with his secretary. He lost all of his money and wanted me to sell the car and send half of what I got for it to him so he could come home!” Just as with this woman it was easy to enlist people to a side. That is one thing that unresolved conflict most assuredly does!

Axiom #4: Unresolved conflict will push to the surface in some form of pain (13: 29-33).

At the time appointed, the men killed Amnon while the other royals fled the scene (13:29). At first, inaccurate messages came to David that all his sons were killed by Absalom. David tore his clothes and began mourning. (13:30-31). Look at the devastation that silence brought to David’s household. A desire to have peace led to war. David didn’t want to upset things, so he let them slide. The unresolved conflict of the family didn’t go away. In the end, look at the pain for:

1. Amnon: It just isn’t worth it! Have you ever done something wrong that seemed liked fun and was kind of enjoyable at the moment, but later when your actions were discovered and you had to pay the price, you said to yourself, “It just wasn’t worth it.” The moment we come into the world, a partner immediately comes to our side. The partner is committed to being with us till the day we die. Our partner will be there when we get out of bed, when we go to the bathroom, when we go to school, when we go to work, when we’re alone in the car, when we make it back home, when we’re getting ready for bed, and even when we’re in the bed. Our partner will appear at times to have left, but don’t believe it for a moment. We are more married to that partner than we will ever be to another person. We can’t even get away, by going into the corners of our mind. Who is this partner who we can hear clearer than we can hear God? Our partner is temptation. You can’t pray to God to get rid of it, but you can allow God to help you from being its slave. If you don’t, you will find yourself saying way too often, “it just wasn’t worth it.” What started out as a harmless thought led to temptation, which ran into some bad advice, which refused to consider the consequences, which went ahead and took what was desired. That all resulted in Amnon lying in a pool of blood with no possibility of escape. This is where temptation seeks to lead us. Each of us here has an enemy who want us to believe everything we want to have, we should have. And no matter what it might appear to cost, it’s going to be worth it for us to get it.. Follow that path, and you will find, IT JUST ISN’T WORTH IT!

2. Royal brothers: It would be a long time before they would have a family barbeque again. The suspicions would haunt this family for generations, and it all came about because of festering bitterness and brutality that was unanswered.

3. Absalom: First, Absalom attracted flies in his life**. He had to leave Tamar and not see her again. He may have thought he did it for HER, but it was really about HIM.

**Note: Then Jonadab (Amnon’s old friend?) shared that he knew the plot was only against Amnon (makes you wonder why Jonadab didn’t warn Amnon?) and that the others were alive still (13:30-33).He had to flee for his life, and live with the consequences of murder.

4. David: He thought things would work out. Things only tend to work out when you work on them.

Axiom #5: Unresolved Conflict becomes the pattern of dysfunction (13:34-39)

Absalom fled to his grandfather’s kingdom near the Sea of Galilee, and the other sons came home. Absalom remained away for three years. Though David wanted him home, he wouldn’t bring himself to go to his son (13:34-39). As a result of his poor parenting and poor example, enormous pain entered the family. Since David did nothing to resolve his son’s abhorrent behavior, his son Absalom decided to take matters into his own hands. He killed his brother Amnon. The family was hopelessly divided — the relationships between them desperately sick – all because a man failed to carry his responsive and repentant relationship to God over into his relationship with his family. Remember: Unresolved conflict is growing conflict. Healing is impossible without resolution!


David’s story is just one among many in his world, and the hurts present in families today are just as real and complex. Hurts happen. They happen in every home. There are issues of power and control, personality differences, finances, different ways of handling children, insecurity, competition, misunderstood feelings and unmet needs, abuse and unfaithfulness. But in spite of some of these very serious hurts, healing can also happen in our homes.

Two things are required:

1. Honesty: Healing will not happen by ignoring the problems or pretending they do not exist. Healing will not happen if you are unwilling to face the problem and avoid doing the hard work of being honest with yourself about the issues and confronting them.

Chuck Colson recently told of a young girl named Carly Santi. For years her mother kept the truth from her that her father was in prison. Carly was devastated when she finally found out. She made up stories to her classmates about her father’s absence. She felt ashamed, even though she had done nothing wrong. The following summer she attended a special Christian camp designed for children of prisoners and learned that she was not alone. Her counselors told her that God really cared about her. She had been struggling with being mad at God, but the words of a song they sang at camp began to penetrate her heart: “Father, I adore you; Lay my life before you; How I love you.” Carly accepted Christ as her Savior, and felt God begin to heal the pain in her heart. Carly and her mom visited her dad in prison and encouraged him to attend one of the in-prison Bible studies. Dennis Santi not only went to the Bible study, he gave his life to Christ and began to grow in his relationship with God. One day he asked Carly to forgive him for the shame and embarrassment he had caused her. It was the first time he had owned up to what he had done to his family and the pain he had caused. From that point on the healing began in their family. Honesty and confession are always where healing begins in relationships.

2. Change: There must be a willingness to stop the things that hurt. In biblical terms, this is repentance. Just as we turn from the things that damage our relationship with God, so we turn from the things that damage our relationship with our marriage partner or our children. To continue to do the things that we know hurt another person is not only wrong, it is cruelty. This means that we must own what we have done wrong and take responsibility for it. Sometimes great animosities can arise over great trivialities. “Don’t let pride keep you from doing what is necessary to bring healing to your home. Don’t be so concerned about getting even that you kill the life of something very valuable.”

The great secret about conflict is that when it is resolved it actually increases intimacy. Unresolved conflict can drive you apart, but when it is faced squarely and dealt with it can bring you closer together.