Friday, February 25, 2011

The Women in the Genealogy of Christ: Part Four: Bathsheba

Sources:

The Bible
Her Name is Woman: Book One by Gien Karssen pg. 153-159
A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers pg.327-453
David by Charles Swindoll pg.162-189

Read 2 Samuel Chapter 11, Chapter 12: 1-25.


The Setting

-David has been King over Judah for over seven years. Now he is King over all Israel.
-Samuel the prophet is dead, as is his best friend, Jonathan and his great enemy, King Saul.
-David makes Jerusalem his capitol.
-He defeats the Philistines and brings the ark of God to Jerusalem.
-God promises David an everlasting dynasty.
-To this point, David was faithful toward God. He was a righteous king, treating his subjects fairly. Over and over the Lord confirmed He was with David. The name of the God of Israel became highly respected among the nations around Israel.
-David shows mercy to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s only remaining relative, keeping covenant faithfulness to Jonathan.
-War ensues with the people of Ammon.
-The capitol of Ammon was Rabbah, and David sent Joab to besiege it. In N.T. times it was called Philadelphia, and today it is Amman, Jordan.
-Military campaigns were waged during the Spring, because the winter rains were past and the busy harvest had not yet begun.

Who are the Players in this Story?

Uriah the Hittite

-Uriah is a Hebrew name, meaning ‘the Lord is my light.’
-He was the husband of Bathsheba. They apparently had no children, possibly due to his long absences due to military duties.
-He is listed among David’s mighty men (2 Samuel 23:39). He is listed last, as a poignant reminder of David’s greatest sin.
-He proves to be nobler drunk than David is sober. He has concerns only for his fellow soldiers still in the heat of battle. He will not relax and be comfortable, nor will he take pleasure with his wife, even though he is back home for a brief respite.




King David

-David sent Joab on his military campaign, and there is some criticism of David for staying behind.
-How often do we fall into sin simply because we’re either not where we should be, or we’re somewhere we shouldn’t be?
-Also note how many examples there are in Scripture and in life of mature believers who stumble into sin. We get over confident. Paul says, “Beware lest any man thinks he stand, lest he fall.”
-The idleness was not good for David.
-“he arose from his bed”—his luxury is in marked contrast to Joab and his men. Vs. 11
-He couldn’t sleep so he took a walk on his flat roof. His palace was up on a hill, overlooking the city.
-From there he saw a woman named Bathsheba bathing.
-Re-read vs. 2. It doesn’t say she was bathing on her roof, but that from his roof, he saw her bathing, perhaps through an open window.
-Men are stimulated visually, and he wanted what he saw.
-David inquired about her.
-The servant told him her name, and that she was married to one of his best soldiers.
-This news should have deterred him, but it didn’t.
-After this, Bathsheba is referred to only as the wife of Uriah, to emphasize the impropriety of David’s actions.
-David sends for her, she arrives as summoned, and he sleeps with her.
-Soon after, she sends him a message that she is pregnant.
-The Bible gives us no doubt as to the paternity of the child. She had been cleansed from her impurity. Her menstrual period was over and she was probably ovulating.
-She leaves it up to David as to what to do with the news.
-We see here the development of sin. James 1: 14, 15
-What began as David’s dereliction to duty, progressed through his lust, to coveting, adultery, and murder.
-David broke four of the commandments: coveting his neighbour’s wife, adultery, murder and lying.
-At this point, what might have happened if the sin had been confessed?
-Instead, David attempts to cover up his sin and let everyone think Uriah is the father.
-Plan A: To do that, he summons him back from the battlefield, supposedly to get a first hand report.
-You see here the abuse of his power, first in summoning Bathsheba to him, and now Uriah, for this unnecessary report.
-He asks him a few pointless questions, then sends him home to his wife. He follows it up with a royal meal for their romantic evening.
-But Uriah wouldn’t go.
-David was not pleased, but he couldn’t order him to go home.
-Plan B: He keeps him in town, invites him to dinner and gets him drunk, but Uriah proves to be nobler drunk than David sober.
-Again, Uriah doesn’t go home.
-It’s not likely that Uriah was suspicious of anything. He explains his reasons to David.
Some people believe Uriah did suspect something, based on his mild rebuke of David about being at ease and taking pleasure with his wife.
-Plan C: Having failed to cover up the pregnancy in this way, David decides to do something extreme; take Uriah out of the picture, so he can have Bathsheba all to himself.
-At this point, David already has several wives.
-The irony is that Uriah ends up carrying his own death warrant to the man who will see that he’s killed.
-I believe he really was duped.
-David sends the orders to his general, Joab, who is only too willing to help.
-Joab was a violent man anyway, but he may have thought to have something to one day hold over David. This kind of knowledge is power. I doubt he was just being a dutiful soldier, following orders.
-Joab does as requested, putting Uriah in a dangerous situation, and then abandoning him there, so it would appear he died in battle; not unheard of for a soldier fighting in a war.
-Joab sends a messenger in response, along with instructions on how he is to break the news to the King, making it seem like, ‘oh, and by the way, Uriah the Hittite died also.’
-When David hears, he is cynical and almost seems to console his partner in crime. Vs.25 He is callous, not even concerned that Uriah would not have been the only man who died that day as a result of his sin.
-David allows Bathsheba the customary mourning period (only a week), and then he sends for her and marries her. She gives birth to a son some time later.
-Most people can count to nine. They would have had some suspicions about this new wife and her “honeymoon pregnancy”.
-For nine months, David keeps this to himself. Did he feel any guilt? Did he have questions from his other wives? Did Bathsheba have any qualms about the situation? If there was any internal conflict, it is not recorded, although many people think some of the psalms (Psalm 32:3-5) reveal his internal anguish at this time of his life.
-God was not pleased. He sends Nathan the prophet to David.
-Nathan must have had a sleepless night, wondering how to confront David.
-Nathan decided to tell a story. As with most good fiction, it can teach something without us being aware of it. How different if he had said, “David I’m ashamed of you.” This way, “Nathan had the sword an inch away from his conscience before David even realized Nathan had a sword.” Charles Swindoll.
-Nathan showed great courage in confronting David.
-When David pronounced judgment on the fictional scoundrel, he was actually passing judgment on himself. He would restore fourfold. Four of his sons would die: the first baby by Bathsheba, and then Amnon, Absalom and Adonijah would die violent deaths.
-Most people don’t want to be rebuked or corrected. David, at this point, probably thought he had gotten away with it, and was not expecting to be exposed.
-In the usual manner of prophetic judgment speeches, he begins with an accusation, then reminds David of God’s providence. He asks an accusing question and then gives the indictment. He concludes with the judgment and penalties corresponding to the crime. 12:7-11
-“You have killed Uriah” 12:9 Because of David’s murder by proxy, he is as guilty as if he had murdered Uriah by his own hand.
-David immediately repents. He does not deny it or minimize what he has done. I’m sure he also felt relief to not have to carry around his guilt.
-David recognizes that his sin, although it was against both Uriah and Bathsheba, was ultimately against God himself. Psalm 51
-Further, he would face public shame, even though he did his sin in secret.
-The reason is given in 12:14 ...“because of this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.”
-God is concerned foremost with His glory, and sometimes, if we show contempt for His reputation, He will stop us in our tracks.
-Their child dies and David begins to see the terrible consequences of his actions.
-After this, a reprieve in judgment for a time. David and Bathsheba comfort each other, and Solomon is born. The other judgments happen a few years later.
-“Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
1 Kings 15:5


Bathsheba

-a beautiful, young married woman.
-the daughter of Eliam, the son of Ahithophel ( 23:34) who was one of David’s most trusted advisors.
-because of this event, Ahithophel betrays David and supports Absalam’s attempted coup.

-What was Bathsheba’s role in this drama? Was she an innocent young woman, going about her business, and merely responding to a summons from an all-powerful King? Or does she deserve any blame for what happened between her and David?
-I personally, don’t think she was innocent, for the following reasons:

1) She was not an inexperienced young girl. She was a married woman who was aware that men were stimulated visually.
2) She was not a heathen, ignorant of the laws of God. She came from a family where His name had been honoured.
3) She didn’t live in immoral surroundings. She was married to a man of discipline and high moral standards who was loyal to the King. Both her husband and father were included in the list of David’s 37 mighty men, and her grandfather was David’s advisor.
4) She knew the character and reputation of the King, who was well known for his righteous life.
5) There is no record of David forcing himself on her, as Amnon does his sister in chapter 13. If it happened that way, I think it would have been recorded.
6) There is no record of any protest on the part of Bathsheba. Yes, having received a summons from the palace, as a subject she had to obey. But compare her actions to those of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife. He refused her and headed for the hills. More specifically, with David, Abigail appealed to David and he heeded her advice to avoid murder. He praised Abigail for her wisdom in stopping him from doing wrong. I think if Bathsheba had said anything, it would have been recorded. One hint from her probably would have been enough to prevent disaster.
7) Not an excuse, but possible extenuating circumstances were that she was a young, beautiful woman who was no doubt lonely due to her husband’s long absences due to military campaigns. She was probably flattered to have caught the attention of the King, a powerful and handsome man. As I said, not an excuse, but these may have been the factors in Bathsheba’s character weakness. Often there is a cocktail of factors all combining together at once to lead to sin. She may not have been an instigator in the events about to develop, but neither was she a mature believer, concerned about God’s reputation.

-According to the law, “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”(Lev. 20:10) both Bathsheba and David should be put to death.
-Yet God forgives them. Think about that! David was getting away with murder. He had broken four of the commandments.
-This is grace. This is mercy. On what grounds does God forgive them? Because He’s feeling generous that day? No! All Old Testament saints are saved the same way that N.T saints were, and that we are...by Christ. In the O.T. they looked forward to the coming Messiah who would pay the price so their sin could be covered once for all. We look back on the finished work of the cross. You could say that the O.T. saints are saved on credit. The bill would be paid by Christ. 1 Cor. 10:1-4.
-That’s why David could rejoice and say, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity. and in whose spirit there is no deceit.” Psalm 32:1, 2

-Although the story of Bathsheba is more of a cautionary tale of what NOT to do, it is nevertheless an encouragement to those who feel their sins are beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness.
-We all have secret sins that we’re glad no one knows about but God. If an event from your life was written down and discussed and dissected for thousands of years, we wouldn’t be remembered well. We’ve known the shame of having some of the things we’ve done exposed publicly, as David and Bathsheba have. Public humiliation is hard to bear, especially when we realize we brought it on ourselves. They were not being slandered. Their sin was real. The facts were right there. We are also truly guilty, but only until our sins have been brought to the cross and confessed. Then our guilt is taken away.
-The freedom of having your sins forgiven by one who knows them all, even the secret sins, is liberating. It’s what gives the Christian true joy!
-Christianity is not about feeling guilty; it’s about living a life of freedom and joy because we know that God will never hold our sins against us, because He has punished them in Christ.
-“As far as the east is from west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12 (Read vs. 8-18). If you walk north, eventually you’ll be going south, or vice versa. But if you go east, you’ll keep going east, or if you go west, you’ll keep going west. That’s why this is a beautiful picture of how God doesn’t bring up our sins against us.
-So we see that David is told God forgives him. What about Bathsheba? Could she ever move past this event? She suffers the death of their first child. She must deal with the gossip and disdain of the rest of David’s family, his wives and grown sons. Does God forgive her?
-See chapter 12: 24, 25 Bathsheba is comforted by David, she is now referred to as David’s wife, God grants her conception and she gives birth to Solomon. God sends Nathan the prophet to encourage her by saying his name is Jedidiah, which means ‘the LORD loved him’. Further, of all of David’s sons, Bathsheba seems to instruct Solomon in his faith, as he mentions many times in Proverbs, and it is Bathsheba’s son, Solomon who succeeds David on his throne. 1 Kings 1:25-35
-Some say Bathsheba even had the honour of crowning Solomon (Song of Solomon 3:11).

For Discussion:
-Questions or comments?
-Discuss that God will forgive our sins, but there may still be consequences, i.e. sex outside of marriage, may result in pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, broken relationships, or a bad marriage. There is always emotional baggage as well.
-Do you think Uriah suspected anything?
-Do you think David really got away with murder? Or did he and his family suffer for that one night of pleasure?
-How do you feel about Bathsheba’s role in this event?
-Do you think these things can ‘just happen’?
-Discuss the fall of someone in church leadership.
-Discuss the confidence of being a mature believer, and its dangers.
-Discuss being in the wrong place in relation to sin and temptation.
-Read 1 Cor. 10:13 What were some ‘ways out’ for David? For Bathsheba?
-What do you think of Bathsheba’s response to her husband’s death? Do you think she suspected David of anything? After it all comes out, do you see any evidence in Scripture that she thought less of David, or held it against him?
-Bathsheba left it up to David to take care of ‘the problem.’ Do you think she was looking to David to cover for her sin?
-How do we respond when we are confronted about our actions or words or choices?
-It’s easier to see sin in someone else’s life more than our own. When you see your sin, do you hide it, handle it or confess it? Psalm 139: 23,24 1 John 1:9
-Discuss the death of their first child.
-Read Romans 8:1,2
-Restoration. Read Galatians 6:1,2 Our role in restoring others.
-Bathsheba and David’s further children 1 Chronicles 3:4b-5—four sons
-David made Solomon king 1 Kings 1: 11-14, 28-31, 47,48.
-Her ultimate blessing-Matt. 1:1-16.

1 comment:

Elise said...

Dear Pia,

I enjoyed reading your meditation on Bathsheba. The story reminded me again of the book of Gary Chapman that marriage is a covenant. It is often mistaken that love is just a feeling. Gary Chapman describes that love is foremost a commitment. If we let our feelings decide our actions... we soon will have to deal with its consequences. If we are faithful to our commitments, it will save us from many sins. That is the beauty of the boundaries God has put into the creation of marriage! Pia, thanks for sharing your blogspot!

Kind regards, Elisabeth