Monday, 14 January 2013

Matriarchs on a Monday - Bathsheba

I know.  It's been months.

I was hoping to have a guest post about Bathsheba, but following some delays, and a lot of other commitments,  my guest writer was unable to do it.  So, you are stuck with me.  I am basing it on the talk she gave, and it has been a blessing to go back and listen to it again to refresh my memory from last August.

I had a whole post under way about Bathsheba, before I heard Rebecca Keliher speaking on the same subject.  My preconceptions of what I thought were obvious lessons, were turned ON. THEIR. HEAD.

So, what do you think of, when you think about Bathsheba?





I must confess, immodesty was the one that had me.  I figured that if Bathsheba had been more modest, then David may not have been tempted.

THAT was where I was wrong, and where I learned something very important. When we are studying scripture, it's important to gain as much contextual and cultural information that we can.  In so doing, you will have a better understanding of scripture, and what we can learn from it.  I also had to remind myself to find the good.  That, we will come to later.

But, what of the thing we associate most with Bathsheba?  The adultery with David.

According to cultural history, from that time, we learn something important about Bathsheba.

David saw her.

 "and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon."

and later on we read...

"for she was purified from her uncleanness:"

It is extremely likely that she was doing some kind of ritual washing.  They didn't just go out in the open, strip off, and wash.  They wore a special garment, that acted like an all over "wash cloth", and they washed by applying water to the OUTSIDE of this garment.   It helped clean the skin like a cloth would. She was also a woman of some standing, with her husband, Uriah, being prominent in the military, so she may well have had an area that was screened off, with some kind of woven screen.  David almost certainly did not see her naked.  She was also washing at NIGHT.  So, it wouldn't have been an indiscreet or improper thing to do!!

So, where does the fault lie?

It lies with David.  David, who sent all his soldiers to battle, but he stayed behind relaxing in his home. If he had been in battle, he wouldn't have been wandering about on his rooftop in the night!

He saw this beautiful woman bathing (probably she had a pretty face, and he KNEW what she was and their eyes.  Undoubtedly it's good to remember that men see something and can stumble, more easily than women.  Modesty is STILL important, but it's not the pivotal issue here!).

He then SENT his men to find out who she was and to TAKE her!

Now, imagine.  You have just finished with your ritual bathing, and at least two of the king's soldiers appear at the door, demanding you come to the king.  She probably had NO idea why her king was telling her she must come.  Perhaps she thought he had news of her husband, who was away fighting, like David should have been.  It was customary for the King to tell a widow of her husband's passing, so maybe she thought he was dead?! But, took her they did, to King David.

Now, this is where we don't have all the information   David took her, and lay with her.  She had just been "purified from her uncleaness", so knowing what we do now, she was at her most fertile time in her cycle.  Did she consent?  We don't know.  She may have done, she may not.  In one sense, it matters not. Why not?  Because if it mattered, we would have that detail.

We do know that she became pregnant.

We do also know what then took place with David, and his decision to send Uriah into the heat of a battle to die, when he refused to go and spend some time, intimately, with his wife, to cover up her pregnancy "innocently".  Instead, David sent him to to his death.

David sent for Bathsheba, to become his wife, after Uriah died.

But, the Lord was displeased with what happened.

We  know that the baby, from their physical union, then passed away.

Roll forward to Nathan's words to David.

Do you know how Nathan referred to Bathsheba, in the story he told David?

"But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb,"

She is referred to as a lamb, and you know that most references to a lamb in scripture are about the Lord himself.  It's a reference to her innocence, and her fragility.

David was punished for his sin.  He was openly rebuked, and sin came upon his household in a sad way.  The baby died, and many other things happened as a consequence.

Bathsheba - taken in adultery, pregnant, widowed and then bereft of her son/

Let's go back and learn from Bathsheba.

I am not sure how we can directly liken her experiences to our own.  It's not likely that a godly king will send for us to come and enter into a physical relationship with us, whilst our husband is off at battle!

I want, instead, to think about Bathsheba in a different light.  In the positive light that we can find of her, which is "hidden in plain sight".

Who was Bathsheba's son?


What did her son ask for?


What book of the Bible did he write?


What chapter do we think about a LOT as women?

Chapter 31.

Who does it say was the inspiration behind that chapter?

The mother of "Lemuel".

Who was "Lemuel"?


Who was his mother?


She was the one who taught him all he tells us of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.  She was the one who was the inspiration, and the source of the wise words he teaches generations of other women!

Also, which son of David was in his genealogy?  Solomon.

Bathsheba was the mother who provided the son who was in the line of Christ.

How gracious and good is God.  Despite the confused and sad background to Bathsheba gaining the title of wife to David, the Lord still used her for much good.  God can turn the events of our life around, from what we see as sadness, guilt and despair, to HIS good and glory.

I think looking at this we can have hope.  Hope that God will bring good from whatever struggling circumstances we experience.   No matter how innocently we can enter in struggles, God can and WILL work it for good.

When God says "all thing work together for good to those who love God", He means ALL things.

Also, I have learnt that it is so important to get contextual and cultural information, before passing judgement on something we learn in scriptures!

I hope these thoughts may be of some encouragement to you today, as they have been to me.

1 comment :

  1. Oh, I have to say that I never thought of Bathsheba in a negative way ...