When teaching young children about "stranger danger," parents instruct them not to go with someone who asks for help looking for a lost puppy or who offers them candy. But what about when the person with evil intentions is not a stranger but an acquaintance, friend, or family member? That makes the manipulation, treachery, and violation even greater.
Tamar was the object of Amnon’s lust, and his friend Jonadab helped him hatch a plot to get his way. The plan hinged on the perversion of the hospitality of bread, taking something intended to bring people together and turning it into something that would eventually destroy many lives in David’s family.
Amnon manipulated his father, King David, by pretending to be ill, saying that some fresh-baked bread would help him feel better. David fell for the ruse and ordered his daughter Tamar into the trap.
Preparing bread was a gesture of welcome and hospitality (see Gen. 18:1–15). Of course, Amnon had no intention of extending hospitality or generosity toward his sister. Offering someone bread signals that you are concerned about their needs. Amnon was focused only on what he wanted. When he refused to eat the bread that Tamar had prepared, he was refusing to acknowledge their real relationship as family members who should care for one another. Instead, he gratified his own lusts. In a horrible example of the inversion of hospitality, he then kicked Tamar out of his house to be "a desolate woman" (v. 20). Two years later Amnon would pay the consequences when Tamar’s brother Absalom manipulated him in a similar way, inviting him to an event and then having him killed.
Apply the Word
Scripture takes hospitality seriously. When we offer bread, it should meet the needs of others, not our own agenda. Hopefully none of us would have such despicable intentions as Amnon, but we can be tempted to view other people as objects to satisfy our own wants. Biblical hospitality extends the love of Jesus to bless loved ones and strangers.