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Redeemed & Redefined -Part 4 Bathsheba

Updated: Apr 13

2 Samuel 11 & 12

After Jezebel and Delilah, Bathsheba is probably next on the disdain meter. She is assumed to have led the "man after God's own heart'" to fall violently from his position of heroic esteem. Is this the true Biblical narrative? Is her sordid reputation of being the seductress of an innocent King in the Biblical account? If not, she is the most unjustly maligned woman in scripture, with the narrative perpetuated throughout millennia.

Hollywood and the men of our culture have blamed her. Setting her up as a femme fatale. Why? Because it sells books and movies and eases the conscience of lustful men. As we look at the Scriptures alone, we get a different picture.

1. She was seen,

2. She was taken,

3. and then she was sent away.

As the story unfolds, the King repeatedly tries to marginalize the issue. We see a lustful, selfish, and conniving king. This may be uncomfortably new. No one wants to see their hero fall and to justify the hero; we need someone to be the fall guy or girl. Bathsheba may be the most gossiped-about woman in scripture, and her reputation is maligned time after time.

First, who is Bathsheba? She grew up in the shadow of David because her father and grandfather were part of his band of warriors, fighting and following him for years in the wilderness with their families. Later, David became King, and his men followed him faithfully. Loyal to David and his throne. All the people recognized David as he was honored by men, surrounding kingdoms, and prophets. He was chosen by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to shepherd His people. David is known as righteous, humble, and willing to seek the counsel of men smarter than himself.

Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam (2 Sam. 11:3). Eliam's father, and her grandfather, Athithopel (2 Sam 23:34), were among David's closest circle of trusted, long-term and highly trusted counselors. Her grandfather, Athithopel's counsel, was so respected that it was equated to the Word of the Lord (2 Sam. 16:23). Her father and grandfather had been with David when he was running from King Saul before David rose to the throne. At the time of 2 Samuel 11&12, Eliam and Athithopel had been with David loyally serving him for nearly two decades. Bathsheba may never have met David but likely would have heard stories of their beloved and honorable king growing up.

At the time of this story, Bathsheba was the young wife of another loyal and diligent soldier, Uriah the Hittite, one of King David's 30 mighty men. Though he was not of Hebrew stock, he was so loyal to David that they lived close enough that one could see their rooftop from the king's palace. His faithful service and character shows that he was willing to deny his own comfort and pleasure for His King and brothers in battle. Uriah and Bathsheba were probably only married for about a year, as Mosaic law gave newly married men a year away from battle, but Bathsheba didn't have any children yet. The presumed age of King David is about 45, and Bathsheba's is only about 20.

It had been years since David's humble beginnings as a shepherd boy. He is a king with a high estimation of himself and enjoys power. He didn't go out to battle, as was his custom and that of surrounding kings. Instead, he sat idle, expecting others to fight and surrender their lives for his conquests. Here, he stands gazing from his rooftop at a woman bathing herself after her monthly menstrual cycle, which, according to the law of Moses, a purification bath was done each month. Cisterns were kept on rooftops, called Mikvahs, and used for such purposes.

He saw her; he inquired about her and commanded her to be brought despite learning she was married (thus breaking the Law of Moses) and without respect for her family's loyalty and faithful service to him and the intimacy of his relationship with those men. He pressed the limits of his authority and objectified her. This is a classic abuse of power, a prime example of a sexual power play. Even if when she arrived, she was flattered, mesmerized, and consented, wasn't it rape?

Those who think she is guilty because she was bathing on her rooftop do not recognize this was a regular monthly practice in a private area, only seen by those above her. David was literally looking down at her, seeing her only as a sexual conquest, not a person. We know this because, despite the servant's shocking response to David with the proclamation of who she was, he continued to command her to be brought to him. Additionally, David and Bathsheba never met again until Uriah was killed. This was not an ongoing affair. It was a one-time power play.

How would a young lady tell an older, powerful King she wouldn't answer his command? Why would she have any reason to deny his command to appear before him? Perhaps he had news of her husband from the battle. Was Uriah hurt, killed? Wouldn't you go?

Others believe that she is guilty because she sent word to the King afterward that she was pregnant. From her perspective, her husband has been gone from home, and she is now pregnant. As soon as others recognize it, she would be considered guilty of adultery and stoned at the gate. It would be a death sentence. Only the King could spare her and protect her. She sent word to plead for her life. Of course, she would reach out to him; he alone knew the truth - she was not guilty. He alone could save her and rectify it with the truth.

Little did she know that her words caused David to conceive a plan in hopes of disguising the pregnancy as Uriah's. Unfortunately, it failed twice because Uriah was more righteous and faithful to his king than David was to His. When plan A failed, he needed to get rid of Uriah. He sent Uriah back to the battle with a note in his hand of his own demise. David's military commander Joab, recognized the cold heartless plan to have a good soldier's life taken. David tried to justify it as war's collateral damage. David was seeking to hide his sin from unsuspecting subjects in his kingdom.

David had Uriah killed during battle. In the following weeks, Bathsheba grieves the loss of her husband and then is married to David. Unsuspecting subjects in the kingdom would have assumed their wonderfully gracious king took in the widow of one of his mighty men and comforted and cared for her as a generous gesture with a honeymoon baby born to the throne. After all, he had done this once before with Abigail, the widow of an evil man, Nabal (1 Sam 25).

Little did they know it was all a masquerade.

Nine months after the initial event, the prophet Nathan, brought before the King a civil dispute. David didn't think this was a parable or riddle; He assumed it was an actual criminal act among his subjects, as evidenced by his outburst of indignation. But, it was the word of the Lord that exposed David's grievous sins. Nathan's narrative likened Bathsheba to a small, precious, beloved, innocent lamb who was aggressively taken, its life destroyed for the selfish pleasure of the rich landowner, who killed it and consumed it.

David was furious, But God was more so. All blame is put squarely on David. The penalty was heavy, and the rebuke of the Lord speaks strongly as her advocate.

10 The judgment of God that is handed to the King through the prophet Nathan is powerful, swift, and directed at each infraction " Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’11This is what the LORD says: ‘I will raise up adversity against you from your own house. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to another, and he will lie with them in broad daylight. 12 You have acted in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel. 13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” “The LORD has taken away your sin,” Nathan replied. “You will not die." 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have shown utter contempt for the word of the LORD, [However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, NKJV] the child also who is born to you shall surely die.” (2 Sam 12:10-14)

Nathan exposed David's grievous list of sins, laying all blame on David alone. David repented. God forgave him, but consequences would follow David for the rest of his life because of it.

David had several other wives already and many children. God punishes all that is David's, with turmoil, adversity, taking of his wives, the removal of the fruit of his sinful act against Bathsheba. David's daughter Tamar was raped by her half-brother Amnon, who was then killed by Tamar's brother Absalom (2 Samuel 13). David's concubine wives were raped by his son, Absalom in a revolt to seize the throne at the counsel of Bathsheba's grandfather, Athithopel (2 Sam 15:39). Adonijah, in another powerplay tried to have himself installed as King before David died. His coup was halted, and Solomon was installed at the word of David after Bathsheba pleaded for him to fulfill his promise (1 Kings 1:28-50).

The redeeming aspect of this whole situation is David's repentance and forgiveness and God's tremendous provision and honoring of Bathsheba. David's relationship with the Lord is restored, his life is saved, and his throne is secured. It also must have worked its way into the relationship he now had with Bathsheba as his wife. They eventually have four other children together, and she is seated next to him as Queen, unlike any of his previous wives.

As David got old he couldn't keep his body warm. A beautiful virgin, Abishag, was bought to become part of King David's harem as a concubine wife responsible for keeping the aging king warm. When David died, the young woman would be part of the New King's harem and, as a virgin, would be given to Solomon. But one of David's other sons, Adonijah who had previously tried to crown himself king, had an affinity for Abishag. Adonijah pleaded with Bathsheba to ask the new king, on his behalf, for Abishag as wife, seeing she had no sexual intercourse with David. Bathsheba thought it was innocent enough. But Solomon was enraged by the request because it was a power play to take a king's wife. It was a sign of disrespect and a malicious attempt to usurp the sitting king. Bathsheba was naive to the gesture, not recognizing the attempt to overthrow her son, showing that she was not a woman of malicious intent or sexually provocative advances.

We see Bathsheba's reputation, redefined and redeemed!

Not only did God act as Bathsheba's advocate and defender, but He also provided for her, unlike all of David's other wives and children. In fact, she receives a double blessing, and what the locusts had stolen, God restored to her greater than any loss. She eventually becomes the beloved wife of David and throughout her future encounters with David there is respect between them obviously formed through forgiveness. Her next son, Solomon eventually becomes the richest and greatest of all Kings in the Dynasty of David. Their next son Nathan, probably named after the prophet who counseled David and Bathsheba, was also prominent. Both these son's are mentioned in the Lineage of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. It is in their generation that the convergence of the two genealogies meet. Bathsheba, with 3 other women, Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, are the ONLY women mentioned in the lineage of Jesus Christ. The traditional heroic women of scripture are not mentioned, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel. Instead these 4 women alone are mentioned. God acted as their advocate, He validated, vindicated and took vengeance on their behalf when needed.

If indeed Bathsheba were guilty of sexual advances and seduction, where is her punishment?

These Women were Redefined and Redeemed! God was their advocate and they were changed by their identity in Christ.

This was a long post; thanks for sticking with it. If you disagree, consider sending the scripture in response that defines her guilt. Test all things, even what we've been taught from others, and certainly don't let Hollywood define truth.


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