Last week a pastor friend of mine tweeted a photo displaying a painting he had done of Bathsheba. It set something off in my heart so I posted a thought or two about Bathsheba’s plight and since thousands of you read it and some posted back with questions and comments, I thought I’d share my thought a little more carefully/deeply with you.
I’ve been a Christian for over 4 decades. That means that I’ve heard plenty of sermons about David’s “adultery” with Bathsheba. I’ve listened to pastors do everything from blame Bathsheba for David’s fall to insinuating that, at the very least, she was somehow complicit with him.
I completely disagree.
I disagree first of all because I’ve read the Bible a lot and if there’s one thing I know it’s that the Bible’s writers (ultimately the Holy Spirit) aren’t queazy at all about uncovering sin. Hence, if Bathsheba had been culpable at all, we would have heard about it. But we haven’t.
What we do hear is that David decided to grab a little “me” time and one afternoon, after he got up from napping, he went up on his roof to check out the doings in his kingdom. It was from there that he saw Bathsheba bathing herself. BTW, she wasn’t on a roof. He was. She was probably in a private courtyard. The Bible clearly states that she was being godly, “She had been purifying herself from her uncleanness” (2 Sam 11:4). She was performing what the Lord required of her after having her period.
So, David said to his servants, “Oh, I like the looks of that…get me one.” So his servants went to her house and “took” her. That Hebrew word means, “to get, lay hold of, seize, snatch, take away, acquire, or buy.” What the Bible doesn’t say is that she cunningly arranged a peep show so she could entrap the king, kill off her husband, and set herself up in cushiness for life. If that had been the case, the Bible would have said that. But it doesn’t. Don’t misunderstand,
When the king’s servants come to take you, you go or you die.
The next time we hear about her, she’s telling David she’s pregnant. The Bible doesn’t tell us her state of mind but it tells us David’s: He’s going to scheme and eventually murder to cover up his sin. When the prophet Nathan confronts him, he doesn’t say, “Well, you know if Bathsheba hadn’t been porning it up, I know you wouldn’t have sinned. Your sin is understandable.” Instead he said, “You are the man!”(2 Sam 12:7) It was David’s sin. Not Bathsheba’s.
At the death of her righteous husband (notice both of them were more righteous than David), she lamented and grieved for him (2 Sam 11:26). Later, she grieved for her dead firstborn son. David brought nothing but death and grief into the house of a righteous woman.
Afterward, David married her and she bore him other children. Again, we don’t know how much say she had in that, but one thing we do know, is that as a disgraced woman in the ancient near east, she really didn’t have much of a choice.
Finally, we get one more glimpse into her relationship with David. When it was time for him to name his successor, Bathsheba reminded him about a promise he had made to her that her son, Solomon, would be king (1 Ki 1:13). We don’t have any record of him making this promise but he honored her request. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that at some point he tried to make amends for ruining her life by promising her that her son would be king. And she held him to it.
Here’s my concern: that we not assume that women are to blame for the lust and sin in men’s hearts. Rules about how women dress (see my post about modesty) are of absolutely “no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh” (Col 2:23).
Case in point? The Burka.
If covering ourselves from head to toe stopped men from lusting, then Iraq wouldn’t be the leading consumer of pornography in the world. But it is.
Okay, now to my point: It’s time that we stop blaming women for the sin that men commit. It’s also time that we stop blaming men for the sin women commit.
It’s time that we all owned our own sin and that’s not a terrible thing to do
because, if we’re in Christ that sin is forgiven and we’re completely righteous. Of course there are precipitating factors, but ultimately rules about outward behavior never transformed anyone’s heart. Only the gospel does that. David’s sin is forgiven. And Bathsheba is listed in the genealogy of Jesus as the wife of Uriah–and she, his little ewe lamb, is in paradise rejoicing with him now.
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