Authentic :: Bathsheba

I have always been what you might call a “good girl”. I followed the rules, I obeyed my parents, I called home even when my parents didn’t say I had to, I told the truth, I got good grades, I wanted to be perfect.

Then I kind of lost my mind for a few years. I mean like really lost my mind, to the point where I was making unbelievably poor decisions. And you know why? Because of a boy.

Some boys had shown interest in me in high school, but it was usually a rebound thing after they had broken up with a friend of mine, so I shut it down pretty quickly. But this guy was different. He was the first boy who really seemed to like just…me. He was not Christian, but he was mine…for a little while…and I loved him in my own nieve little way. But because I thought I loved him I made a lot of questionable choices. Lines got blurred because he made me feel special–he made me feel seen. Suddenly, this good girl didn’t feel like she was such a good girl anymore.

After going through a long process of redemption, forgiveness, and acceptance I surrendered to the reality that even good girls need grace.

When I got back to the reality of my life, I felt like I had gotten away with something. It was just a season, right? I could walk right back into my good girl ways and everything would be fine. No one would ever know.

Wrong.

You see, those decisions changed me, and because I’d ‘gotten away’ with it once, I made other poor decisions–this time all on my own–but because of the same feelings. People who never talked to me before suddenly wanted to hang out with me. I flirted with lines and with guys I shouldn’t have been flirting with. I drank (now that I was 21) too much–granted most people would have still called me a ‘good girl’ because comparatively I was still making great grades and talking about Jesus, but there, just beneath the surface was the knowledge that it just wasn’t quite right. 

It wasn’t until MANY years later that I realized just how buried it was, and just how far I’d wandered. After going through a long process of redemption, forgiveness, and acceptance I surrendered to the reality that even good girls need grace.

Photo by Oliver Pacas on Unsplash

I feel a lot of sympathy for Bathsheba. She got a bad rap because of one decision and the repercussions of it caused an enormous amount of grief, but her story proves that no sin is too great for God’s forgiveness and his plans will always prevail no matter how badly we lose our minds.

We are Responsible for our Own Wisdom

2 Samuel 11: 1-5 introduces us to the setting, characters, and situation. A classic exposition for a narrative, we find that it is springtime, but more importantly, a time for war campaigns when Kings should be out in command of their army, but for some reason, David, the king of Isreal, decides to stay at home. You know what they say about idle hands and all that, well David is not where he is supposed to be which is simply a set up for the enemy to swoop in. He goes for a walk one night on the roof of his palace (presumably higher than the other domiciles around him) and spies a pretty hot woman bathing. Let’s talk a little culturally before we move on.

1) According to Deuteronomy 22:8 most domestic dwellings were built with a small wall around the roof to protect people from falling and to provide some privacy for the family. So choosing to bathe on the roof during a warm spring night would not have been quite as scandalous as it sounds. It’s entirely possible that Bathsheeba had no idea anyone could see her, let alone the king who, by the way, shouldn’t have even been in the city. Now, do I think it was a wise decision? Eh, probably not, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be a feminine trap or trick. 

2) According to Leviticus 15:19, a woman was ceremonially unclean for 7 days during her menstrual cycle. At the end of this time, she must wash t and then 7 days later offer a sacrifice on the 8th day to become ceremonially clean. The parenthetical in verse 4 helps to set this context, and also explains the timeline–given that Bathsheba became pregnant after this encounter. 

These cultural notes simply add a little context to the story and help me to understand that not everything is quite as it seems. Bathing outside on one’s roof does not show the greatest wisdom, but knowing the possible purpose and the cultural architecture certainly helps me have a little more grace for Bathsheba’s decision making. Still, as women, we must make wise choices because, unfortunately, our femininity can make us vulnerable, and when we make unwise choices it paves the way to situations we simply can’t get out of easily. That doesn’t make these things our fault, exactly, but it does remind us that our choices do matter and it only takes one bad choice to change our lives forever. 

It only takes one bad choice to change our lives forever.

Both parties are clearly at fault here. Bathsheba came from a religious family. She followed the law, even to the point of monthly cleansing after her cycle. By all circumstances, and appearances she was a good girl. Unfortunately, she was not entirely innocent in the exchange. The Bible doesn’t hide rape: Dinah, Tamar, women taken as spoils of war. Granted, David may have used his position of power to manipulate and maybe even seduce this married woman especially when you read  2 Samuel 12: 1-10 and see that Nathan is depicting David as the man who took his neighbor’s lamb and cooked it for a meal. While Biblical scholars can’t quite agree on how they view Bathsheba, either as an adulterous temptress, luring David into sin or an innocent victim, I tend to land in the middle.

Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

When I place myself in Bathsheba’s position and realize just how difficult it must have been to stand before the king and say ‘no’. Especially since we know David is hot and a little like a rockstar, she did have some choice in the matter. Consider Abigail who straight up told David he was acting the fool and should remember who set him in charge; David wasn’t above reproach by a woman. She did have a choice.

The Snowball Effect

Oh David, my heart breaks when I realize you are just as human as the rest of us–especially when I read the heartbreaking result of the snowball effect in 2 Samuel 11: 6-27. David doesn’t immediately admit his sin, he tries to cover it up. His plan first backfires because Uriah is a good and honorable man, who knows he should be with the army. Instead of returning to his own place in the army, David sends Uriah off to his death. Murder by position.  Problem solved. No one has to know

Wrong. 

David, the man after God’s own heart, was just as susceptible to the corrupting effects of power and the enemy’s lies. This story simply provides more evidence that no human could ever do what Jesus did for the world. It had to be Jesus, because even the man after God’s own heart royally screws
up from time to time (no pun intended).

According to Leviticus 20:10 both David and Bathsheba should have been put to death for their affair. But 2 Samuel 12: 11-23 gives the punishment, and unfortunately as with most of our poor choices, the people around us end up suffering the consequences. Aside from the wheel he set in motion to create division and rebellion in his own home, Bathsheba also loses the baby. A precious innocent child died. On one level, I feel a little angry at the baby having to suffer the consequence, but on another level, I know that baby is safe in the arms of Jesus, so his fate was gracious. 

Photo by Bobby Rodriguezz on Unsplash

Embracing forgiveness

In  2 Samuel 12: 24 & 1 Chronicles 22: 5-13 & 28:5 & Matthew 1: 6 we see the beauty of grace and redemption, as David and Bathsheba will produce a son who will rebuild the temple literally and metaphorically becoming the man whom God will continue David’s line all the way to Jesus. David’s sin was grave, and although Bathsheba was, in my opinion, more victim than not she still participated in the sin of adultery. In spite of this, God’s forgiveness is full and complete.

The last we see of Bathsheba, she is fighting for her son’s promised place as the heir to David’s throne in 1 Kings 1: 11-31. She is no longer a victim—she is in control and fighting for what she believes is right: her son on the throne, which is what God spoke to David as His will. Her transformation is almost palatable. Sure, she made a mistake, but the same is true for her as it is for us: after a long process of redemption, forgiveness, and acceptance Bathsheba too surrendered to the reality that even good girls need grace.

Forgiving others for their wrongdoings is hard, forgiving ourselves is even harder. David and Bathsheba stepped into full forgiveness from God and each other. In the end, they had a total of 5 children together, including Solomon who would become the wisest man in the world; all thanks to God’s grace.

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