Although it wasn’t mentioned if Bathsheba was Jew or Gentile, she was mentioned as the daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah the Hittite, a gentile who had lived among the Jews and had adopted their ways and their God. It is however debated as to whether Bathsheba was a gentile herself or not, but that is not important. The very first thing I took note of while reading this story was the series of events that led to the sin Bathsheba committed. Although the story starts from when she was only a child, I would like to move straight to when she was older and married to Uriah the soldier. She was a young bride who was not happy, as seen in how much she brooded over her loneliness. Right before she took her bath, this was what was going through her mind.
“How many months had it been since she had laid eyes on Uriah? How many months since she had felt his arms around her? How many more months will come and go, and her chance for having a child passing with each one? She cupped water and pressed it to her flushed cheeks. She knew what was wrong. Every time her menses passed and it was time to take the ritual bath of purification again, self-pity took hold of her. What was the point of making herself ready for a husband who was never home? Another month will pass and another and another, and her arms would remain empty of children. Tears welled. Anger stirred. Frustration abounded.”
She had been given in marriage to a soldier, and that came with unique responsibilities and expectations. I am positive there a lot more wives of soldiers present at the time, who had been married more years than she had been, who had learned to accept their lives as thy were and make the best out of it. Wives who had stayed loyal to their husbands, wives who did not wallow in self-pity while their husbands were away at war but rather busied themselves with some trade, with doing the Lord’s work, praying for their husbands and all the other men at war but no, Bathsheba was angry, frustrated, on the brink of giving up. She hated her life, she hated what her husband did and was not ready to accept it and adjust to it. To sum it, Bathsheba’s mind was ready for the evil seed to be planted. She was yearning for intimacy, and the King; not just any king but the King of Israel, had looked down upon her nakedness and was already burning with desire for her. Obviously, it was a done deal. And so it is of no surprise that Bathsheba heeded to his summon, and followed the palace guard all the way to the king’s bed chambers.
This did get me thinking back to many instances where i found myself caught in some sin or another, and at the moment it seems as if it just happened, but with a careful look at the situation I realize a lot more happened before the actual sin that was committed and as is seen in Bathsheba’s case, it all starts from the mind (our thoughts). Taking the spotlight off Bathsheba briefly, see what happened with David too before he found her bathing.
“His daughters and sons competed for his attention until all he wanted to do was escape to a quiet place and be alone. And when he was alone restlessness took hold of him. He was discontented and uneasy. Was this all there was to life? He tried to write psalms, but no words would come. Every note he plucked on his lyre was discordant. He tried to rest, but the more he slept, the more tired he felt…Bored and melancholic, the king walked the palace walls, gazing out over the city named in his honour, desperate for a distraction.”
He was yearning for an adventure, some thrill, some excitement, and he actually stepped out in hopeful search of it. Both of them were filled with discontentment, they were easy targets. Another part of the story that I found significant was Bathsheba’s reaction when she noticed she was being watched. She did not run and hide, as her mother yelled at her asking, when later their sin was uncovered;
“Gasping between her gulping sobs Bathsheba confessed. ‘David saw me bathing from the roof of the palace. He sent for me. What could I do? He is the king!’ Her mother slapped her hard across the face…‘And what did you do?’ her mother spat. ‘Did you cover yourself up? Did you call me for help? When he summoned you, did you do as Abigail did and tell him he would bring sin upon himself? You did none of these things!’”
And this is true. Bathsheba could have protested. Abigail, knowing her husband Nabal had incurred the wrath of David and had brought doom upon himself and his family, knowing David was going to kill them all, went behind her husband and begged on his behalf, touching David’s heart and thus preventing him from committing the act of murder; keeping his hands clean of their blood (1 Samuel 25). But instead, Bathsheba kept letting her defense down one huge block after another till it all tumbled down;
“She put her hands against his chest. She knew she should say something to stop him. She should be like Abigail and make him aware of the sin he was about to commit. But her resolve weakened when she felt his heart pounding faster and harder than her own. He wanted her. ‘I’ll let him kiss me once, just once, and then I’ll say something to stop him. I’ll have his kisses to remember. Just one.’ When his mouth took hers, Bathsheba felt herself being pulled down with him into a vortex of desire…and the words of warning died in her throat…she clung to him and didn’t say a word.”
She lied to herself down to the final act and it is so common with us and sin. Do we not tell ourselves “oh this is okay so long as that..?” We allow one thing to happen and it leads to another. Like Bathsheba did. She was not strong. She wanted him as much he wanted her. They were both filled with destructive desire and she was only trying to ease her conscience by telling herself she would allow him to only kiss her…once. But we all know what happened, after which she got pregnant. All that she had been pining for on that day she took her bath (Intimacy, a child of her own) she had gotten, but it was not acquired in the right way. The intimacy she got was an act of adultery, and the child she carried was conceived in that illicit affair. We so often take things into our own hands and suffer for it.
The events that follow this act piled sin upon sin. David indirectly murdered Uriah, and took Bathsheba in as his wife. It was while she was in David’s home, yet again lonely, for none of the women in the house wanted anything to do with her, she had lost her family and friends, and David was busy being King. It was then that she had time to start looking back at what had happened, at herself and what she had done. And for the first time, she prayed;
“I’ve broken the law. How can I ever undo what has happened because of my sin? Oh, Lord God of Israel, be merciful. Please pull me up from the pit I dug for myself and change the direction of my life!”
She acknowledged that she had led herself into that dark place; she had no one to blame but herself. She knew she was headed for damnation if God did not intervene. It was not long after she had her son that he fell ill and died, doubling her grief. She felt abandoned by God because of her sin, and so she spent days pleading for mercy. Her sorrow and the solitude she was in gave her the opportunity to search herself, and admit all of her wrongs and broke down in remorse, knowing she had caused her own destruction, and this was what she said to David, when he, after days of fasting and praying, came to her;
“‘Who was it who stood naked in her courtyard so that you could see her? Who was it who went into your arms without a thought for her husband?’ She beat her fists against heart. ‘Me! It was me!’”
She had gotten to the point where she no longer made any excuses for her sin, or tried to make herself feel okay about it. She needed to lay it all out before God, and in all sincerity seek his forgiveness. She longed to feel forgiven. When she had her second child, and the prophet Nathan came with the message that God Himself had name him Jedidiah (Beloved of the Lord) it eased all her fears and finally assured her that truly, she had been forgiven.
“Oh, Lord, You have washed me clean and warmed me in Your loving-kindness…I took my troubles to the Lord. I, so unworthy, cried out to Him for deliverance, and He has answered from His throne.”
This son was also named Solomon, the wisest King from whose line the Messiah came.
One last thing I picked from this story is that sin comes with consequences, and even when we are forgiven, some of the things we do by our own will have effects that cannot be altered. However, we need not live in constant regret. Knowing your sin forgiven, instead, pray, for prayer is what will see you through the difficult times. Bathsheba could see what was happening around her because God had placed a curse on David’s household as a result of their sin (2 Samuel 12: 7-14), and she couldn’t help but lament over what she had caused. If only;
“‘Oh, if only I’d been stronger and wiser…’ She stopped the thought. If only…if only…What was the use in such thinking? It was too late to wish she’d done things differently. They were all stained with sin, and sacrifices merely covered it with another’s blood. ‘Oh, God of mercy, how I long to be free of my sins, to be an innocent child again, as white as snow.’”
She did not know what the Lord had in store for her, but before she died, this was her request;
“Only the Lord forgets sin. Only God can take it and send it as far away as the east is from the west. Man remembers. Man recounts. Man condemns. How many years would come and go after she was dust when men and women would still hold up her sins and wave them like a blood banner? Will anyone ever see more in me than that one fateful day when David saw me from his roof and called me to his bed?…(then she prayed) ‘I know they will remember my sins, Lord, but when they look upon my life, let them see what You did for an unworthy woman. Let them see the hope born from despair. If they must recount sins, let them count Your blessings more so. You protected me. You raised me up. You gave me sons. Let my name be unspoken, Lord, for what am I that anyone should remember me? But, oh, Lord God of Israel, if they do remember me, let them open their mouths and sing praises for Your great mercy toward me. Let them see Your infinite grace and Your boundless love. And let them…be encouraged.’”
As we read and I write about her today like many others have, her prayer was answered, and she is numbered in Matthew as one of the five women who are counted in Jesus’ genealogy.
What I learned from the woman Bathsheba;
- Act of remorse and contrition
Stay tuned for the story of Mary the mother of God.