He is a voice shouting in the wilderness. Mark 1:3
This week I happen to come across two different men, who used their voice for influence, one for evil the other for good. We find the first story in 2 Samuel 13. Amnon was one of David’s sons. He had a dear friend, who was also his cousin named Jonadab. Jonadab noticed that his friend, Ammon was quite upset. Enter the story:
Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. she was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her. So here we have the story’s setting. Amnon was 22 and Tamar about 15 when this took place. He was so obsessed over Tamar and her beauty that he became ill. Amnon was correct in thinking he couldn’t have her, because she was too near a relative according to Jewish law for them to marry. (He was her half brother.)
What happens next shows the power of one voice. But Amnon had a very crafty friend–his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea. One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?” So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister. Instead of Jonadab helping his friend righteously through the problem, using good counsel, he helps set in place an elaborate plot so Tamar and Amnon could be alone. “Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.” So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister come and cook my favorite dish as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.
At this point, perhaps David, as the dad could have used a little discernment, and asked a few questions himself, but he didn’t. When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house she fixed the food. But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. Everyone get out of here Amnon told his servants. So they all left. Then he said to Tamar, “now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here. So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. but as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister’. “No, my brother, she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called on the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me” . But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger that she was, he raped her. Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her. He disgraced her even more, and brought division into the family over this act. All because his lust, fueled by his friends “advice” caused him to act so disgracefully.
When people we are around are in difficult emotional places, many times our one voice can either influence them to do good, or influence them to give in to their fleshly ways. As I read this story, I often wonder if Jonadab had some secret desires of his own, that he worked out through Amnon, another place where we must be careful. Friends have used their voice to precipitate and encourage others to pre-mature divorce, have affairs and other sinful acts, maybe even things they don’t have the courage to do themselves, but encourage others to do it at their expense. Not a good thing.
We find another story of the use of one man’s voice in Acts 5. Vs. 12, The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord–crowds of both men and women.
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. (Verse 17) To condense the story, an angel came and let them out, and they went back to the public square and began preaching again. When the Temple guards went to get them out, they were gone! Someone finally came and told them that they were preaching and teaching again.
The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Peter and the apostles then preached to the council officials. When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. But, one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel; who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for awhile. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! (vs 33-35) Here is the voice of reason, in the midst of the furious anger of the rest of the council members. He then rehearses the stories of two other men with their followers, whose movements died out after their leaders died. He took the time to look at a bigger picture than what was right before them. (Acts 5:36-38) When we use our voice, we need to take the time to look at the whole picture.
The voice of reason went on to declare “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning an doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God. The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Acts 5:38-40 NLT
When we are given the opportunity to counsel, encourage or give advice make sure it is scripturally sound. Make sure it leads them toward God’s ways and God’s thoughts. Point them to hope and faith. Jonadab, as a “friend” caused much havoc for David’s family; when he could have helped Amnon think differently. Amnon was ultimately responsible for his own actions, but would he have had the courage to plot such a plan without the help of Jonadab? I think not. Gamaliel changed the minds of his other council members by taking time to think. Let us be the voice of reason for each other. Like Gamaliel, take the time to think before you speak. Look at the bigger picture and help your friend make right choices.
Father, I thank you for helping us use the voices you gave us to speak words of hope, direction and encouragement. Let us not be like Jonadab who encouraged Amnon to commit a grievous sin, but like Gamaliel who saved lives. We ask for Your continued wisdom, grace and mercy as we search for Your big picture, in the hearts and lives of our family and friends. Our words do count, let us use them for good. In Jesus’ Name, amen.