Her story is told in the Hebrew Scripture of the Second Book of Samuel. Like, Tamar, Rahab and Ruth, her scriptural sisters before her, she comes with a complicated, troubled past. And, like her sisters, Bathsheba also acts righteously, although the biblical narrative about her is often tarnished in the telling by her extramarital affair with King David.
The very next chapter contains an endearing story of Samuel that ought not be missed. David takes in Mephibosheth, the crippled son of his dearest friend Jonathan and grandson of Saul. Mephibosheth eats at David’s table and is treated like “one of the king’s own sons”.
The story makes abundantly clear the love between Jonathan and David. It is an interesting prelude to the story of the darker side of the King in this next chapter of his life.
David, on the other hand, is back at home, feeling invincible.
No matter. Both the culture and law of the ancient times in which she lived were stacked against her. If she succumbs to David, she is guilt of adultery. Deny him and she is refusing the King.
Either way, both actions are punishable by death. Either way, she knows the ancient shame of women which continues to haunt women to this day.
Except, of course, he doesn’t. He sends for Uriah to come home from the war to be with Bathsheba. It’s the only way to protect his reputation and save Bathsheba’s life.
It’s about the King’s authority. And, the King’s pride.
David devises a plot to have Uriah and others killed in battle against the Ammonites by sending Uriah and others too close to Rabbah. David’s nefarious plot is successful and he does the "righteous" thing and marries Bathsheba.
Even though David repents, the child dies.
How much grief and suffering must one woman bear for the sins of one man?
Bathsheba appeals to David:
“My lord, you swore to your servant by the Lord your God, saying, “Solomon your son shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne.” And now, behold, Adonijah is king, although you, my lord the king, do not know it…And now, my lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to tell them who shall sit on the throne of my lord the king after him.” (I Kings 1)Bathsheba cannot know at the time that Solomon’s reign will be the most peaceful and prosperous time of Israel’s history, and she does not know that the Savior of the world will be born through Solomon’s line.
Bathsheba’s action saves her life and makes Solomon King, ensuring God’s favor on Israel. Bathsheba went to have four more sons with David (Solomon, Shimea, Shobab, and Nathan) and two of them are listed in New Testament genealogies. Joseph, Jesus’s earthly father, was a descendant of her son Solomon (Matthew 1:6) and his mother, Mary, was a descendant of her son Nathan (Luke 3:31).
Remember Sister Bathsheba and how she transformed her lowly status of vulnerability and shame as well as the deep grief of the murder of her husband and death of her firstborn son into a vehicle of the redemption of Israel.
Through her righteousness came not only the wisest leader of the most peaceful and prosperous time in that ancient land but also the Incarnation of Ancient Wisdom.
Remember and tell the story to your children that your children's children from generation to generation may know that the glory of God is the human person fully alive.
Holy God, as we begin to turn our eyes toward the lowly manger in Bethlehem where we await the birth of Jesus lying weak and vulnerable in the midst of the harshness of the world, help us to turn our hearts toward hope and trust in your goodness.
Give us the strength and righteousness of Bathsheba that shame, vulnerability and grief may be transformed and through us wisdom and salvation may be born again.