I’m a bit behind in my blogging but better late than never right? 🙂 Today, we are going to talk about Bathsheba. She is one woman in the Bible who gets a bad rap. Many Christians believe she was some kind of seductress. This is mostly because David saw her while she was taking her bath on her roof.
This idea is erroneous. It’s kind of like saying that some man decided to look in your bathroom window while you were taking a bath and seduced the guy staring through your window.
It was spring. All the men were supposed to be gone. David was supposed to be gone. In fact, kings were supposed to lead their armies – not stay behind spying down on the neighboring rooftops.
In this story, David sees Bathsheba. He had a choice at this point. He could have turned away, knowing that she thought she had privacy, but he continues to look and not just look, but lust. Yes, Bathsheba was beautiful, but that didn’t mean she deserved to be ogled.
Then David takes it a step further. He asks about the woman and finds out not only her name but some pretty significant details about her life. First of all, she was married. Not only was she married, but she was married to one of David’s most trusted generals. She was also the daughter of Eliam. Eliam had been one of David’s mighty men who had been with David while he ran from Saul all those years.
Again, David had a choice. He could have walked away then. Gone to see one of his multiple wives. But he didn’t.
Instead, he sent for her. Right about now, there are some of you who are probably saying, “Well, she could have said no!” The truth is – she couldn’t. In that time, if a king wanted a woman, he could have her. All the people were subject to the king’s will.
In 2 Samuel 11:4, it says that David “took” her. The word took is the Hebrew word laqchah and it means, “to seize, to acquire, to snatch, to take away, lay hold of, buy.”
None of the Sciptures that describe what happened give us a clue about Bathsheba’s thoughts or feelings, but the next verse says that Bathsheba then discovers she is pregnant. She sends word to David. It doesn’t say what the message said, but it takes very little imagination to read between the lines.
In David’s defense, he could have left Bathsheba out to dry. If she was discovered pregnant and her husband gone so the baby couldn’t be his, she would have probably been stoned for adultery. While there were people who knew what happened, nobody was going to squeal on the king.
But David did respond. In fact, he comes up with a sure fire plan to fix the situation. David sends for Uriah and tries everything possible to get him to go home to his wife and have sex with her. Uriah, however, is more honorable than David and he refuses. In fact, Uriah tells David in verse 11, “Uriah said to David, “The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in shelters, and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the field. Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life an the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.”
I’m not sure if Uriah was purposefully trying to guilt David or if he was just very passionate about right and wrong, but either way, I’m sure David couldn’t miss the implied criticism because David WAS eating and drinking and having sex – just not with his own wife.
Then David tried to get Uriah drunk and he still couldn’t get Uriah to go home. So, David sends word to Joab to put Uriah in the front of the battle and then withdraw. The plan works and Uriah dies in battle.
We get a hint of Bathsheba’s feelings in verse 26 because it says that when she heard of her husband’s death, she mourned him. Once her time of mourning was done, David married her.
Time passes and Bathsheba gives birth to a son. More time passes, but it’s been over a year since all this took place. God has had enough and sends the prophet Nathan to David. Nathan tells David a story about a man who had one lamb and a rich man that had herds of sheep and lambs. However, when someone comes over for dinner, he takes the poor man’s one lamb and kills it and eats it.
David is incensed. That’s when Nathan points his long, bony finger at David and says, “That man is you!”
At this point, David knows the jig is up. Who knows? Maybe he is relieved not to carry his guilty, shameful secret around anymore. He repents.
It’s interesting to note that the victim in the story is the lamb. God sets the sin squarely on David’s shoulders. Nowhere does it say that Bathsheba was at fault. Bathsheba suffers again because the son she conceived with David dies as a punishment for David’s sin. I can’t explain why God chose to do that, but He did.
The interesting thing about this story is that it has a twist at the end. Under the circumstances, you would think that Bathsheba would despise David. First, he forced himself on her and then he killed her husband to cover up his sin. Now her child dies as punishment for what David did.
Yet, if you look through the rest of the story, it’s clear that Bathsheba was one of David’s favorite wives, and they went on to have four sons together. One of those sons was Solomon.
Even though everyone would have been counting the number of months between Bathsheba and David’s hasty marriage and the birth of the baby and come up short, Bathsheba commanded respect.
In I Kings 1, the prophet Nathan goes to her to get her help in preventing an overthrow. David grants her request that Solomon succeed him on the throne. Her son Solomon held her in high regard. It is Jewish tradition that Bathsheba recited Proverbs 31 to Solomon at his first marriage. Bathsheba is also part of the lineage of Jesus.
Despite their very rough start, it seems David and Bathsheba had a relationship. It says after their first child died, he comforted her – a far cry to the way he treated her in the beginning as nothing more than an object to satisfy his lust.
The story of Bathsheba is kind of a hard one for me to wrap my mind around. I mean, obviously, there are some important lessons we can learn from David on what NOT to do. There were clearly several key points he could have changed his mind.
But what can we learn from Bathsheba? I mean, in the whole story, we don’t really hear her speak at all. In fact, we now little of her feelings, except that she mourned when her husband died and she was distraught when her child died. What happened to Bathsheba was not only unfair, but also tragic.
Did she curse being beautiful? Did she hate David at all? These questions and more whirl around in my mind whenever I read this story.
But there are a couple of things I can take away from this story. First, you don’t have to act like a victim even if you are one. Bathsheba in many ways was a victim to the people around her, but despite the circumstances, she didn’t stay a victim. It’s rather obvious as we see the rest of her story unfold, that she was not only beautiful but strong and smart, as well. Living with the other wives had to be tricky at best, yet she did it successfully. And she commanded the respect of those around her, including the prophet Nathan who didn’t strike me as easy to impress.
The other thing I think we can learn from this is that God can take something ugly like rape and murder and bring something good out of. I don’t mean that David was justified at all, but God transformed Bathsheba and David’s relationship into something good. It could have been very ugly but it wasn’t. Only God can do that, but I hope this story gives women hope that nobody’s story is so damaged or broken or ugly that God can’t transform it too.