“And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, whose name was Tamar. And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him.”
Genesis 38: 6,7
King James Version
“A Compassionate God”
A Dad Who Never forgets His Girls
“Man may dismiss compassion from his heart, but God never will.”
Has there been a time in my life when I needed to feel God’s compassionate love around me?
How does it make me feel, knowing that God’s compassion is everlasting?
“God is full of compassion, and never fails those who are afflicted and despised, if they trust in Him alone.”
Teresa of Avila
“The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
James 5: 11
Sandwiched between the story about the treachery of Joseph’s brothers selling him to the Midianites as a slave and Joseph’s arrival in Egypt is the tale of Tamar – the daughter-in-law of Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons.
We find Tamar’s story in all its sordid detail in Genesis 38. Please remember, Jacob’s sons were the violent group who murdered their sister Dinah’s husband because he was a Canaanite. Yet, just a few chapters over, Judah, we are told “saw” a daughter of a certain Canaanite, who was named Shuah, and he “took” her and “went in unto her.”
What a hypocrite. It makes you wonder about the moral code of this family when Dinah’s husband Shechem was murdered because he “saw” and “took” and “lay,” yet here, Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob resorted to the identical behavior. I point out this behavior by Judah because we are going to see that his disrespect of the women in his life was consistent, troublesome and in the end it got him into a lot of hot water.
Judah’s wife had three sons that we know about – Er, Onan, and Shelah. When Er was old enough to marry, the Bible says Judah picked out his wife – a girl name Tamar.
The next words in Scripture are these: “And Er, Judah’s first born, was wicked in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord slew him” (Genesis 38: 7). There aren’t many places in the Bible where we find God taking such drastic action. In order to understand this text and its intent better, I went to my trusty Hebrew translation to see what light could be shown on this passage. There are two distinctly different Hebrew words used for the word “slew.” In Genesis 4: 8, we are told that Cain “slew” his innocent brother Abel. In this situation, the word “slew” means that Cain went after Abel with the “deadly intent to slaughter” him. An innocent victim being wrongfully attacked – like a lamb taken to the slaughter. Interestingly, if you remember last week’s story about Dinah, Levi and Simeon’s murder of the residents of the city in Canaan and of Shechem and his father Hamor, was also referred to as a slaughter – the same form of the word “slew” used to describe Cain’s murderous act.
However, in the case of God, who “slew” the wicked Er, the form of the word “slew” means a “person worthy to be suddenly destroyed.”
It seems Er was such a horrid person, there was no reason for him to continue to live. He had set his feet on a destructive path against God. He liked being evil, a very bad place for any of us to be for when we are out from under the protective hand of God, we lose our ability to survive. I’m going to go way out on a limb here, but since the story of Tamar, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful stories of God’s compassion toward His daughters – every single one of us – I just wonder if part of Er’s destructive behavior wasn’t directed toward Tamar – abusive behavior, that in God’s sight was so horrendous, He no longer provided life to this evil man.
At this time, when a husband died with no heir, his brother was charged with stepping in to give a child to the widow. Well, Onon, the brother decided he didn’t want to give Tamar a baby so he sexually disrespected her. His behavior, we are told, “displeased” the Lord and Onan died suddenly. So now, Judah had only one son left and he decided Tamar wasn’t going to be the bride of his last son lest he die, also. Tamar, it appears, was to be a childless, forgotten widow.
From this first event in Tamar’s life, I see a God who does not take lightly the mistreatment of His girls – whether it is sexual, physical or emotional abuse. What’s more, as we will see tomorrow, God doesn’t take kindly to the “Judahs” in this world who go back on their word. In the case of Judah, he decided not to follow God’s way; he went back on his promise to Tamar and God took notice.
Several weeks ago, a single mother wrote me about the treatment she and her children, were enduring at the hand of her former husband – a man who at one time had promised to love and cherish her until “death do us part.” This abusive man was trying to see that this girl’s death came sooner than later. I want to say this as loudly as I can when using a pen to write – don’t ever let any person abuse you – period!
Abusive behavior is never deserved. There’s no reason for it. It is not of God – ever. And it cannot and must not be tolerated by the sons and daughters of the King of the Universe. Don’t let anyone, be it pastor, priest or King, tell you that you need to endure the evil hand of any abuser. Instead, go to the book of Genesis and read about God’s response when the men in Tamar’s life chose to disrespect her.
Get this girls! Our God of compassion sees the hand that hits, feels the pain that stabs the heart, and hears the cry of anguish when any of His daughters have been abused. And He promises that His compassion toward us will, “fail not.”
He was watching out for Tamar and He’ll watch out for you, as well.
“Teach me to feel another’s woe;
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
“Lord of the Universe
look in love upon Your people.
Pour the healing oil of Your compassion
on a world that is wounded and dying.
Send us out in search of the lost,
to comfort the afflicted,
to bind up the broken,
and to free those trapped
under the rubble of their fallen dreams.”
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus