And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she took off her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. Genesis 38:13-14
People make promises to someone crying. “If you will just stop, then …..” Distress makes them uncomfortable, and they’ll promise about anything to see it end. Here’s the dilemma for the one who is hurting, though. Never are people more vulnerable to a promise-maker than when they are in great need.
Tamar married the first son of Judah. God took him out because he was evil. She married the next son of Judah. He was also wicked, and God killed him too. Though God was protecting Tamar, it probably didn’t feel like it to her. Maybe she wondered if she was a curse. After all, men connected to her were dying. Can you imagine her confusion? Judah stepped up to offer his youngest son, but Tamar would have to wait years for him because he was still young.
While others her age were having children, she was waiting. While others were enjoying their young families, she was waiting. What a painful day when she realized that Judah either forgot or disregarded the promise. Realizing that she might remain a widow forever, she took matters into her own hands. She dressed up like a prostitute and waited at the gate where those attending a Canaanite sheep-shearing festival would pass. There, she hoped to snare Judah so that he would sleep with her. She just might get her heir. The one who had broken the promise would be tricked.
Those who intentionally break promises are betrayers. And here’s what I need to remember. Never are they in more danger than when I put them in God’s hands instead of my own. Forgiveness is taking someone off my hook and putting them on God’s hook. At that point, it’s time to review the Promise Keeper. If I start remembering every promise He has made and the ones He’s already honored, I will lay down my need for revenge.
Father, Jesus believed You rule righteously and entrusted His betrayers to You. He had the power to punish, to make things fair, but He left it to You. I walk in His sandaled footsteps. Amen