Sometimes the things we don’t say speak louder than the things we do. Last week we saw David amplified by his words. This week, we see him amplified by what he fails to do and say. We watch a heartbreaking story unfold, a story of evil, a story of betrayal, a story of silence and hurt. This is a hard one to reconcile in scripture. When David’s daughter Tamar suffers at the hand of her brother, her father is silent. Yes, it says David is angry, but he fails to bring justice because it his oldest son was more precious than his daughter. I think we have established by now that David’s priorities are messed up, but his silence is deafening. Gabi talked about the unseen daughter, which I think many of us resonated deeply with. Why was Tamar unseen? Because of David’s silence.
Tamar means palm tree. The palm tree has significant meaning in scripture. Ezekiel 41 describes the layout of the inner temple, of which palm trees are critical to the design. One commentary explains that they represent “humanity gaining its goodness and worth from God and from his house” and are pitted again the cherubim which represents bringing what he himself has been able to produce and offer to God. We do not know much about Tamar except that she lived in her brother’s house, a desolate woman. I do not think she ever got over what happened to her; I am not convinced that she knows this.
I also think that is okay. Her worth does not come from what society thought of her. Her worth does not even come from what she thinks of herself. Her worth comes from what her true, perfect, just God thinks of her. He sees her. He sees her pain. He knows her name. Tamar was precious to her Father.
God deals with David: prophesy is fulfilled in “broad daylight before all of Israel” (2 Samuel 12:12), David’s house is writhing in conflict and brokenness, and Tamar’s brother eventually meets justice for what he did to her. God also deals with Tamar though — the unseen daughter is seen and her story is lifted. For generations, literally thousands of years, her name will be in scripture. I hope what we can pull from these passages is that our hurt is not ignored or forgotten by our God. David’s silence does not equal God’s silence. He sees us, even when we feel insignificant and small. We will be remembered. We remember Tamar. We see Tamar.