04/30/16 – 459 – David & Bathsheba
As a human being, a pastor who is taught to deal in relationships, I can’t help but try to see the true roles of all parties involved when things get rocky. I believe that it’s the only way to get people to take responsibility for their actions, and in doing so, allow for change.
We’ve been studying David for a while now, and we know he wasn’t perfect – nor should we expect him to be. Even the ‘man after God’s own heart’ was still a man. And we have been taught in a way that suggests that the responsibility for the affair with Bathsheba and all that followed was on David’s shoulders. The way the story is written is slanted in that direction, with Bathsheba playing a more passive role.
It’s not that I want to bash Bathsheba (I can’t even pronounce that out loud!). I guess I just want us to understand that we always have a choice – even if the king is calling us. How many sins have been ‘justified’ by the words “I was just following orders.” It was used so often by Nazi war criminals after WWII it came to be called the ‘Nuremburg Defense”.
Anyway, in that light, I have to think that Bathsheba did in fact have a choice. Whether or not she deliberately bathed where David could see her, no one can say. I did find some interesting things in my reading about that, though.
In the Midrash (Jewish teachings), Bathsheba is completely innocent of any wrongdoing. However, the story is never read in public (it is considered inappropriate). According to the Midrash, Bathsheba was to be with David from the week of creation – so the mistake (implied) was that she prematurely married Uriah.
The Midrash says that she was washing her hair in a bucket. David saw a bird (which was really Satan) on his terrace and shot an arrow at it but missed. The arrow somehow hit Bathsheba’s bucket and shattered it, exposing her. The arrow signifies his falling in love to the point where he couldn’t control himself. It goes on to say that he was punished in the deaths of his first 4 children, a 6-month bout of leprosy and a temporary separation from God.
There’s another point of view in Jewish teaching (the Talmud) that says there was never any wrongdoing in the first place. It’s an interesting concept I never would have thought myself, so we’ll take a look at it tomorrow and see what you all think.
As with many Biblical characters, I wish we knew more about Bathsheba. She certainly ended up being a woman of great influence both during David’s reign and in Solomon’s. Sometimes she seems very naïve and innocent, at others almost ruthless. I wonder if these are accurate portrayals, or is her role only minimized in order to focus the story on David?
David does end up taking responsibility, of course, and we’ll look more deeply into that as well. There’s another interesting note I found in my study that relates. David’s writing of 2 Psalms, the first being Ps 32 about the time he tried to hide his sin from God (and everyone else). Have you ever felt like this – maybe during a similar time?
Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord” —
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Today, let’s pray one of 2 prayers – either a prayer of confession or one of gratitude for Christ’s redeeming love.