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Archive for April, 2018

In our first post about Bathsheba, we saw that God has great compassion for His children. Bathsheba is one of many women in the Scriptures that have been misunderstood or portrayed badly by scholars. We have already seen how the Jewish leaders have portrayed Tamar as a prostitute even though she was not one. Later we will see the same slur against Mary of Magdala’s reputation. That is why it is so important to read the Bible and see what it really says about these women.

Hollywood likes to portray Bathsheba as a temptress. It sells more movies, but their version is not the same as the Bible’s. I believe that Bathsheba had no choice when King David had his men bring her to the palace. As a vassal and a woman she was not allowed to refuse the king. Some commentators want to cast Bathsheba as a seductress and blame her for David’s sin. But the Bible does not describe Bathsheba that way.

In our story in Part 1 (Posted April 3, 2018) – Bathsheba experienced a forced relationship with a man who was not her husband, widowhood, and bereavement of a child. But God blessed her marriage to King David and they had some happy years. David was much older than Bathsheba and so not surprisingly he preceded her in death.

This week in Part 2 – Bathsheba as Queen Mother – we see more evidence of God’s sovereignty and compassion. Bathsheba mourned the loss of a child and then the loss of her husband. But God was not done with this faithful daughter yet.

Let’s turn to the continuation of this story of a very blessed woman – Bathsheba.

The years rolled by and when David was really old and close to death, one of his sons decided not to wait for him to die but to have himself declared king. Nathan’s prophecy was coming true. There was a lot of trouble in David’s family.

Turn to I Kings 1:25:

Adonijah, the son of Haggith, one of David’s other wives, called together all of his other brothers except Solomon and threw a party. Those who attended celebrated with eating and drinking and exclaiming, “Long live King Adonijah!”

 Nathan the prophet, who was not invited to the party either, went to Bathsheba and told her to hurry to the king before it was too late. Nathan honored Bathsheba by going to her as the one who would be able to talk to the king and inform him about what was happening and ask the king for help.

Turn to I Kings 1:15-18:

So Bathsheba sent to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. Bathsheba bowed down, prostrating herself before the king. “What is it you want?” the king asked. She said to him, “My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the Lord your God: ‘Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne.’ But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it.

While Bathsheba was speaking, Nathan the prophet came into the room and confirmed her words. King David called for Bathsheba and promised to make Solomon king that very day.

David assured Bathsheba that Solomon was his choice (and God’s!) to inherit the throne. David gave orders for Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet to anoint Solomon as king and have him sit on David’s throne immediately. The people watched as Solomon was anointed. Trumpets blew and the people proclaimed, “Long live King Solomon!” (I Kings 1:39)

Adonijah and his followers fled. Solomon showed Adonijah mercy and let him return home. Solomon was safely on the throne now. Adonijah unfortunately would not learn his lesson. More about that in a moment.

Bathsheba had acted wisely and courageously when her son Solomon was threatened. It seemed that all of Israel was going after Adonijah. She and Nathan were alone in approaching David. Yet Bathsheba relied on God’s promise and David’s faithfulness that her son would be the next king. David respected his intelligent, resourceful wife and acted upon her request immediately. Bathsheba’s son was promptly made king.

Bathsheba was a wise woman. But in the last story we read of her in the Bible we see her acting in a rather puzzling way. It has to do with her stepson Adonijah.

Turn to I Kings 2:13-14:

Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, “Do you come peacefully?” He answered, “Yes, peacefully.” Then he added, “I have something to say to you.” “You may say it,” she replied.

Adonijah went on to ask Bathsheba to speak to King Solomon for him and get Abishag the Shunammite as his wife.

Though Adonijah tried to make his request seem like a small thing to Bathsheba, he really wanted to be king. He believed that it was his right as the older brother and he thought of a way to usurp Solomon’s rule. In those days, a new ruler would often take the wives of the previous king to prove that he was now the reigning king. Though David had not cohabited with Abishag, she was still considered a concubine. (Another of David’s sons, Absalom had already tried this. See 2 Samuel 16:21-23.)

Either Bathsheba was fooled by Adonijah or perhaps she just had a very tender heart. It is difficult to see why she would even think that Solomon would grant Adonijah’s wicked request. Perhaps she really hoped that Adonijah meant the best. After all, when he greeted her he assured her that he had come “peacefully”.

A more probable explanation is that Bathsheba was wise enough to know that Adonijah had not repented and would always be a threat to her son Solomon. Perhaps Bathsheba took Adonijah’s request to Solomon so that Solomon would have an excuse to remove this rival and consolidate his throne. I guess we’ll have to wait until we get to Heaven to know for sure. I believe that Bathsheba was a kind and forgiving woman, but she had already shown much courage in getting her son on the throne. Whether or not Bathsheba knew what Adonijah was really asking, Solomon did. The king sent one of his men to execute Adonijah immediately.

Again, Bathsheba was exonerated before all of Israel as Solomon set a throne for his mother on his right side. Bathsheba was ruling as the Queen Mother.

Turn to I Kings 2:19, Solomon, “had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at this right hand.”

Solomon loved and respected his mother Bathsheba. Some commentators believe that the “Excellent Woman” of Proverbs 31, written by Solomon, was modeled on Bathsheba. The worthy woman in Proverbs 31 is a trusted companion and a devoted mother. Bathsheba fits the description of the honored and noble woman whose “children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” (Proverbs 31:28-29)

We find Bathsheba one more place in the Bible that is often overlooked. In the Song of Solomon, the bride praises her husband as they prepare for their wedding day.

Turn to Song of Solomon 3:11 where the speaker says:

Come out, and look, you daughters of Zion. Look on King Solomon wearing a crown, the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced.

Who else can this mother be but Bathsheba? And here we see her as the Queen mother crowning her son on his wedding day. God had compassion on Bathsheba and raised her from the depths of loneliness and sorrow to the heights of comfort and joy!

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A Note on God’s Compassion

In this story we will see that God has great compassion for His children. Bathsheba is one of many women in the Scriptures that have been misunderstood or portrayed badly by scholars. We have already seen how the Jewish leaders have portrayed Tamar as a prostitute even though she was not one. Later we will see the same slur against Mary of Magdala’s reputation. That is why it is so important to read the Bible and see what God really says about these women.

Hollywood likes to portray Bathsheba as a temptress. It sells more movies, but their version is not the same as the Bible’s. I believe that Bathsheba had no choice when King David had his men bring her to the palace. As a vassal and a woman she was not allowed to refuse the king. Some commentators want to cast Bathsheba as a seductress and blame her for David’s sin. But the Bible does not describe Bathsheba that way.

Historians and Hollywood have often tried to say that the adultery was all Bathsheba’s fault. But Bathsheba was violated physically, then widowed, and bereaved of a child.

God is compassionate. Bathsheba was comforted in her mourning. And then, miraculously God raised Bathsheba from the depths of sorrow to the heights of joy as He gave her another son. Her son would be the next king of Israel.

Let’s turn to the story of this very blessed woman – Bathsheba.

 Turn to 2 Samuel 11:1:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

Normally, King David would have been with his troops. We are not told why he remained in Jerusalem. Perhaps his generals were doing an adequate job. The Israelite army was successful in destroying their enemies. Perhaps there was no need for David to endanger his life any more by leading the battles.

Continuing at verse 2-5:

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”

Those who blame Bathsheba for David’s sin often try to say that she was bathing on her roof on purpose where the king could see her. That is not very likely.

In the first place the Bible doesn’t say Bathsheba was on her roof; we are told that it was King David who was on the roof. That is the point to the story. He was standing where he could look down into the courtyard of Uriah and Bathsheba’s home. He should have wandered off and looked at something else and not violated Bathsheba’s privacy. It got him in trouble.

Secondly, when David got up from bed it was night. How late was it? How dark was it? Bathsheba had every right to expect that she was bathing in the privacy of her own home at a time of the evening when she could expect to be alone.

It was very unlikely that she was on her roof. Who would haul heavy water jars up there? Actually Bible historians tell us that bathing went on in people’s courtyards. Her maids would bring her water and attend to her behind a screen. She had every reason to believe she was having a private bath. The reason David could see her even behind a privacy screen was that he was on his rooftop looking down at her.

David stood there and watched as this beautiful woman bathed. David could have looked away and respected Bathsheba’s privacy. Even if David had not looked away but indulged his lust by watching Bathsheba, he still could have turned and gone back to bed and forgotten about the whole thing. Instead he took steps to satisfy his lust. David sent a messenger to find out who she was.

Who was Bathsheba? Let’s pause here and talk about Bathsheba. We know very little about her early life. Bathsheba’s father was Eliam, also known as Ammiel.

Ammiel was ranked as one of David’s thirty-seven “mighty men” (2 Samuel 23:4). As such, Eliam or Ammiel would have been a frequent guest at David’s palace.

Originally her father named her Bath-shua, which means “daughter of my prosperity”. Her later name, Bathsheba means “daughter of an oath” signifying the oath-bound covenant made with Abraham.

Bathsheba was married to Uriah as a young woman. Uriah, a Hittite, was an officer in David’s army; in fact, he is listed with the 37 top-ranking heroes – one of David’s mighty men – (in 2 Samuel 23:39). Perhaps as one of the mighty men, Uriah met Eliam’s daughter Bathsheba in a gathering and asked for her hand in marriage. In any event, he was an important man.

The fact that Uriah had a house in Jerusalem very near King David’s palace suggests that when the Israelites were not at war, Uriah’s peace time job may have been as one of the palace guards or even one of David’s personal body guards. It was the proximity of Uriah’s house that unfortunately made it possible for David to be tempted when he looked down into their courtyard while Bathsheba was bathing.

David sent messengers to get Bathsheba. When David’s men told him that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah, he would have known that Uriah (one of his chief men, remember) was away at the battle. He knew that Bathsheba was alone and helpless. Bathsheba could not refuse the king and David knew it. At this point David could still have let the matter drop, but he didn’t.

When Bathsheba came, David lay with her. The Bible is clear – David lay with Bathsheba. He is the one who controlled the situation from first to last. Frankly, David sinned against Bathsheba. The Bible makes it clear that she was a victim.

Bathsheba soon found that she was pregnant. This was a terrible situation for her. She told King David about her predicament. David knew he had to do something.

Let’s return to our story picking up at 2 Samuel 11: 6-9:

So David sent this word to Joab: “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, “Go down to your house and wash your feet.” So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

David decided to deal with the problem of Bathsheba’s pregnancy by getting Uriah home as quickly as possible. David thought that Uriah would naturally sleep with his wife upon returning home. Then the child would be presumed to be Uriah’s.

But Uriah was a dedicated, disciplined soldier and refused the comforts of home while the other soldiers were staying in temporary shelters. Even Joab was camping in the open field. Uriah asked, “Shall I then go to my house to eat and to drink and to lie with my wife? By your life and the life of your soul, I will not do this thing.” (2 Samuel 11:11)

David tried several times to get Uriah to go home, but Uriah would not think of his own comforts ahead of his duty.

David then tried desperately to cover his sin. He sent a letter to his general Joab, in the hands of Uriah himself, to put Uriah in the fiercest place of a battle knowing Uriah would be killed. David added murder to adultery.

Think for a minute of how far David went to cover up his sin. He had one of his best men killed. He involved his general, Joab, in participating with him in an unjust murder.

Continuing with verse 26, 27:

When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of the mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

Bathsheba mourned for her husband Uriah when she learned of his death. David had not only violated her physically, but now he also caused her to be a widow.

Not only that but the laws in Israel were plain – a woman found pregnant out of wedlock was to be put to death. David raped her, made her a widow, and then put her in danger of her life. How lonely and helpless Bathsheba must have felt.

God was displeased with David and sent Nathan the prophet to speak to him. Nathan’s words are significant.

Turn to chapter 12:1-3:

The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

Nathan told David a story about a rich man with many flocks of sheep and a poor man with only one ewe lamb. The rich man needed to prepare a meal for a visitor and instead of using one of his own many sheep he took the poor man’s ewe lamb.

David grew angry and said that the rich man deserved to die for his evil deed and should make restitution.

Turn to 2 Samuel 12:7-10:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”

Let’s look carefully at Nathan’s story. The metaphor he used is not an accident. The sheep in the story are adult animals. The ewe lamb is a baby. The lamb is vulnerable and depends on its owner for protection.

Bathsheba was depending on her husband for protection, but he was away at war. Normally Bathsheba could rely on her strong husband, one of David’s mighty men, to defend her. Uriah would never have let anyone through the door to harm his wife.

David knew Uriah was away and he took advantage of the situation to take Uriah’s one ewe lamb. If David needed to have some physical comforting, he had plenty of wives for that. At this time in his life, we know that there were eight named wives for David and many concubines. He did not need to find another woman.

David understood what Nathan was telling him. He responded, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan told him that God had forgiven him since he repented.

 But sins have consequences even if God has forgiven them. The child that was conceived by this unlawful union died. Bathsheba must have mourned greatly over the death of her first child.

David comforted Bathsheba after the death of this child. Bathsheba conceived again and bore a son and they named him Solomon.

David loved Bathsheba until the end of his life. God gave Bathsheba four sons, one of which was the future king, Solomon. (I Chronicles 3:5)

Bathsheba must have forgiven David. It must have meant a lot to Bathsheba when David repented publicly. This exonerated her. As a child of God she would have known that repentance and forgiveness are important. And as a godly wife it was important to her that her husband be right with God. Bathsheba could love, honor, and obey a man who turned from his sin and did what was right.

In the next post we will see how Bathsheba reigned with her son Solomon to the end of her life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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