One of the greatest “love stories” in the Bible is that of Jacob and Rachel. Jacob had to flee his home in Beersheba where he had lived with his parents Isaac and Rebekah and his elder twin brother Esau for over 20 years. He and his mother had deceived Isaac into giving him the birthright blessing that belonged to Esau. His life in danger due to Esau’s rage, Isaac and Rebekah sent him to her family in Haran to seek a wife of her brother Laban’s daughters. Esau had married Canaanite women which had greatly displeased them. On the way, Jacob had a God-encounter in which God promised to bless him with the blessings he had sworn unto his fathers Abraham and Isaac.
Arriving at the outskirts of Haran, he came upon a well where the people came to drink water and water their animals. While questioning the man at the well about his uncle Laban, Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter, showed up with her father’s sheep. When he saw her, Jacob ran to her, kissed her and wept, telling her that he was her relative. She took him home to meet her family. When a month had gone by, Laban realized the value of keeping Jacob around, and he approached him with the offer to pay him a fair wage for his services. Jacob was quick to respond, because he had fallen head over heels in love with beautiful Rachel. He said, “I will serve you seven years for your youngest daughter Rachel.” Laban readily agreed and Jacob joyfully and diligently served Laban for the next seven years. “And they seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her” (Gen. 29:20).
True love! True love waits when the timing for marriage is not yet ripe. True love will wait seven years, but lust won’t wait 7 minutes! When his seven years of service were completed, Jacob came to Laban and said, “Give me my wife for, my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her” (v.21). This is an idiom for “have sex with her.” But Laban deceived him by giving him his yet unmarried older daughter Leah first, according to their customs. Leah would have been covered behind the veil, like the burkas Islamic women wear. (This is probably where the modern custom of turning back the bride’s veil during the ceremony came from — Make sure you get the right girl!) Jacob was devastated. But Laban promised to give him Rachel as well if he would work another seven years for her, which he did. The good news was, he only had to wait another seven days until the wedding reception for Leah was over, to marry Rachel.
When it is true love, and there are circumstances preventing an immediate marriage, such as age, the sexual fulfillment can be, for Christians must be, delayed until the marriage. A red flag should go up for young ladies who feel pressure to have sex before marriage, especially when the boyfriend threatens to break up the relationship if she doesn’t. Compromise is never okay with the Lord, and it generally never has a good outcome. The Bible is filled with such cases: Judah and Tamar, Samson and Delilah, and one of the saddest: Amnon and Tamar, King David’s son and daughter (not the previous Tamar).
They had different mothers, and Amnon was David’s firstborn and presumed heir to the throne. But Amnon had a lust problem, and specifically for his beautiful, virgin half-sister Tama: “And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin, and Amnon thought it hard for him to do anything to her” (1Sam. 13:2). He was so full of lust for her that his cousin and best friend Jonadab asked him why he was so depressed and down in the dumps lately. Amnon did not hesitate to tell him of his desire for Tamar, and we can understand why, because Jonadab was a deceitful man himself. Instead of rebuking Amnon for his unholy desires, he invented a plot to seduce her, which entailed Amnon lying to his father the King. He told Amnon to feign sickness so that his father would come to see him. Then he was to ask David if he would send his sister Tamar to come to his place and make food for him. David, unsuspecting such foul play afoot, sent Tamar.
Beautiful, young, innocent Tamar came and made cakes for her brother, as he lay on his “sickbed” watching her every move, with lust burning in his loins. But when she laid the cakes before him, he refused to eat. He told all the servants to leave the room. Then he told her to bring the cakes to his bed so he could eat out of her hand. Totally naïve, she did, and he took hold of her and said, “Come lie with me, my sister.” She begged him not to force her, for such things should not be done in Israel. Not only this, but how would she live with such shame?
But Amnon was so consumed with selfish sexual desire, he did not take any of her words and the consequences of his actions into account. Being stronger, he raped her. Here’s the kicker: “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly. So that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said, Arise, be gone!” (2Sam.13:14-15).
Once his lust was a fulfilled, it turned to disgust. He hated her, because she was now the icon of his guilt. Every time he looked at her, he was reminded of his own vile sin. I think the truth is, he really hated himself. He called his servant and said, “Put now this woman out from me and bolt the door after her” (v.17). He could not stand to look at her! He could not bear to hear her anguished weeping as she pleaded with him not to treat her with such disgust!
When all boys or men have on their minds is lust, they will pursue their prey until they have had their way, but once they do, they often revile the girl and want nothing more to do with her. It wasn’t love to start with. It was lust, and lust becomes disgust when the deed is carried out.
Tamar left in tears, tearing off her beautiful, many-colored robe that was worn by virgin princesses. Her virginity was stolen, and in that culture, she was totally humiliated and degraded. Her future as a princess bride would probably never be, for she was not a virgin, and the shame of being raped by her half-brother was insurmountable. Tragically, the story gets worse as Amnon was later murdered in vengeance by Absalom, his half-brother and full brother to Tamar. The bitterness that invaded Absalom’s heart was not requited by Amnon’s death. It festered until he rose up against his own father David in an effort to rend the kingdom from him. During the ensuing warfare, Absalom was killed by Joab, David’s chief general.
“Then when lust is conceived, it brings forth sin, and sin when it is finished, brings forth death” (James 1:14).