2 Samuel 13:3
But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtle man.
This chapter contains a dreadful story. The unnatural lust of Amnon, the vile counsels of Jonadab, the unsuspiciousness of the king, the confiding innocence of Tamar, her unavailing remonstrances and resistance, the hardened villainy of her half-brother, his hatred and cruel expulsion of his innocent victim, her bitter anguish and lamentations, the unjust leniency of David towards the offender (although "very wroth"), the vengeance so quietly prepared and so sternly executed by Absalom, the king's lamentations over the death of Amnon, his subsequent longing after the fugitive Absalom, - present a picture of horrible wickedness, of helpless misery, of weak negligence, of fierce and deadly revenge, which moves us with alternate detestation and pity, as well as wonder that so much depravity should have been found in the family of a man so godly and devout, until we remember the unfavourableness of polygamy to the right training of families, the foolish indulgence of David towards his children, and his own evil conduct, which weakened his authority. Passing by, however, all other particulars, let us consider awhile this statement, "Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab... a very subtil man."
I. A KIND OF FRIENDSHIP TO BE ABHORRED AND AVOIDED. At first view the friendship of Jonadab and Amnon seems natural and proper. They were first cousins; Jonadab was a man of intelligence ("subtil," equivalent to "wise," not necessarily "subtle" in the bad sense); he "showed himself friendly" by noticing his friend's doleful appearance and inquiring the cause. Not until we observe the advice he gave, and see how it was accepted and followed, do we discover how base he was, how base they both were. Amnon's vileness appears, indeed, earlier, in his indulgence of a passion for his beautiful half-sister, and that so violent, while so seemingly hopeless, that it affected his health. A case, surely, calling for pity and sympathy! No wonder that his dear friend so feelingly inquired after his health, and employed his subtlety to find a remedy! They must have known each other very well for one to acknowledge so disreputable a cause of his ill looks, and the other to suggest so infamous a restorative. What a real friend would have advised is obvious. He would have urged Amnon, by every consideration of morality and religion, of regard for the honour of his family and nation, the happiness of his father, and the duty he owed to his sister, to conquer his guilty passion. But Amnon knew well that he was in no peril of being troubled with such counsel, or he would not have acknowledged his shameful lust. Observe, too, how utterly this pair of friends, like all their tribe, disregarded the ruin and misery which they were plotting for the innocent Tamar. They seem to have been tolerably sure that the offence would not be thought very serious by "society," and that the law would not be put in force by David. His own sins of a similar kind would give them confidence of impunity. Even after committing the foul crime, Amnon does not seem to have thought it necessary, for the sake either of safety or decency, to retire for at least a time from Jerusalem until the affair had "blown over." What a contrast between this friendship and that of David and Jonathan! Many such friends, alas! are to be found in the world; men who are counselling and aiding and hardening each other in licentiousness, whose delight is to ruin the innocent, and bring dishonour and misery on their families; and who are preparing each other for well-merited damnation. Yet their debauchery is overlooked by "society," especially if they be of high rank, while their victims receive no pity. It would be of little use to address such wretches, even if we could gain access to them. But we may warn young men who have not yet come under their deadly influence, but who may be in danger of doing so. For in all classes of society persons are to be found who, corrupt themselves, delight in corrupting others. Young men coming from the country to great cities, where at present they have no friends, are in peril, not only from prostitutes or sometimes from loose married women, but from men of the class referred to. These will test them by using double entendres, advancing to outspoken ribaldry and freer conversation about sexual indulgences. If discouraged, they will laugh at the "innocence" and "squeamishness" of the youth they would corrupt. If he at all encourage them, they will introduce him to indecent books, or offer themselves as guides to the places where he may safely indulge his passions. To an inexperienced youth, not yet well grounded in Christian principles, such approaches present very powerful temptations. The assault from without meets with auxiliaries within, in the awakening passions themselves, and in a curiosity "to see a little life." The manner in which such temptations are met at the beginning is likely to determine the character of the youth's whole future life. To yield is to be undone; to resist and conquer is to gain new strength for future conflict and victory. Let, then, those who are thus tempted shrink back from their tempter as from a viper. At the first indication of such depravity let them "cut" those who display it,, however related to them by blood, however agreeable as companions (the more agreeable the more dangerous), however able to help them in their worldly career. If their counsel be not followed, yet friendly association with them in any degree must exercise a debasing influence. It may not be possible to avoid them altogether; they may be employed in the same establishment, and indulge themselves in loose language in the hearing of their fellows; but let a loathing of them be cherished, and every practicable effort be made to silence and suppress them.
II. THE SUREST SAFEGUARDS AGAINST SUCH FRIENDSHIP.
1. Close and decided friendship with Christ. Begun early, cultivated diligently by daily communion with him in secret, through devout study of his Word, believing meditation, fervent prayer. Thus the heart will become filled with the purest and noblest affections, leaving no room for the vile; and thus will the youth become "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," and "be able to withstand in the evil day" (Ephesians 6:10, 13).
2. Friendship with the best Christians. Union and communion with them in Church fellowship, in Divine ordinances, in Christian work, in social life and its pure enjoyments. Christian people should interest themselves in the young (especially young men from home), and welcome them to their confidence, their friendship, their homes. For the young must have friends; and if there be difficulty in associating with the good, they are in so much greater danger of contenting themselves with the evil or the doubtful. But if they form Christian friendships, these will be as an impassable barrier against the advances of such as would lead them astray.
3. Constant watchfulness and prayer. Against everything that, if indulged, would make the society of the wicked welcome. Guard the heart, for out of it springs the life (Proverbs 4:23). Seek of God a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). Suppress every impure thought and feeling (see Matthew 5:28), and every impulse to utter impure words (Ephesians 4:29; Ephesians 5:3). Let the psalmist's prayers (Psalm 141:3, 4; Psalm 139:23, 24) be yours. Ever cherish the thought, "Thou God scent me" (Genesis 16:13).
4. Consideration of the certain result of following evil counsellors. "A companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20). Amnon found it so. Let the young man think, when sinners entice him, "They are inviting me to misery, death, hell!" Finally, it is not only those who are unchaste, and the abettors of unchastity whose close acquaintance and counsel are to be avoided, but the irreligious and immoral in general; all who are "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Timothy 3:4, Revised Version); all who adopt, practice, and tempt to infidelity, sabbath breaking, intemperance, gambling, untruthfulness, dishonesty, or any other form of evil. "Be not deceived: evil company" of any kind "doth corrupt good manners" (1 Corinthians 15:33, Revised Version). - G.W.
Parallel VersesKJV: But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David's brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man.