“She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” (2 Samuel 11:3a)
My devotional Our Daily Journey led me to this well-known tragedy in the Bible where the man after God’s own heart becomes a voyeur, home wrecker and murderer in one blow. I used to read this passage (11:1-17) in light of David’s sin and crooked thinking. This morning, however, I found myself questioning a gray issue:
Did Bathsheba sin?
At first glance, the answer would be an outright no. Her bathing in the roof was was not an act of seduction for the architecture of houses then in ancient Israel accommodated hygienic activities in the roof.
“…From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful….” (11:2b)
Although the Bible did not explicitly state her harboring any ulterior motives during her evening bath, Bathsheba was only complying with custom practicing hygiene by bathing after her monthly period (verse 4 indicated that she just purified herself from her monthly uncleanness, a.k.a, period). It also wasn’t her fault she was beautiful (for this reason I am always alert; beautiful people are prone to danger :)) There seems to be no evidence proving that Bathsheba sinned. However, another story in the same book came to my mind as I pondered on Bathsheba’s case: Amnon and Tamar’s story found 2 chapters later.
Here’s the gist of the story: half-brother falls madly and deeply in love with half-sister. His friends told him to act sick and ask their father, who happened to be King David, to command half-sister to be his personal nurse. When his hot sister and nurse arrived, half-brother raped her.
Tamar was coerced when she was raped; Bathsheba chose to take part in adultery. Yet anyone who refuses to appear before the king when summoned risked immediate execution, so how could Bathsheba have refused David’s invitation? This was the part where I placed myself in Bathsheba’s shoes (retaining her beauty) during that cool evening in Jerusalem sans the rated R scenes.
I went up into our roof, way too excited to shower. My monthly discharge had stopped; too bad my husband, Uriah, had just gone off to war. Nevertheless, I rid myself of my uncleanness, allowing the cold water to cascade my smooth skin.
At this point I realize that it would be judging to pronounce statements of Bathsheba’s reasons for bathing. She could have just bathed for the joy and cleanness that a cool bath brought or she may have desired to seduce a man watching her from afar. In any case, it’s not my role to judge.
After 10 minutes, I wrapped myself with a coarse cloth made of sheep skin (a.k.a. a towel) and headed downstairs to dress up. About 15 minutes later, I heard a knock on my door. A man dressed as a messenger from the royal palace greeted me warmly and asked how I was. I forgot his name but I remembered him as one of the messengers my father, Eliam, and husband, Uriah, ordered to deliver messages to different people. After a few minutes, he waved goodbye and left. It was only when I went back to my room that I realized the messenger did not mention his reason for his visit.
I walked to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of water. I sure do miss Uriah. The warm breeze compelled me to hug myself tightly with my veil. I was walking to my room when another knock startled me. And another. What now?
More messengers! They told me that the king ordered me to appear in his presence. It was springtime, wasn’t it? Why is the king in his palace? Shouldn’t he be in the battlefield? As if I can lecture the king on occupational neglect! I obeyed his agents and went with them to the palace. Something was not right. Was Uriah hurt?
I was led to the private chamber of the king. This must be bad news. My arms are suddenly covered with goosebumps. Maybe it’s the cool breeze. I coiled myself tightly with my shawl. It was quiet–awfully quiet. Where was the king?
“Bathsheba. I’m here. Come to me.”
I followed the sound as the path became darker and darker. Why does this feel so wrong?
I’ll stop here. Now that narration was just a product of my imagination and my personal response were I in Bathsheba’s place. I wonder:
- Did she feel her intuition waving the red flag at her, telling her to stop and think before taking the next step? God surely must have been with her! David may have chosen to sin deliberately, but before she was touched by him, Bathsheba had a choice not to have unlawful relations with the king. God gave women intuition which they could use in circumstances such as this.
- What if Bathsheba decided not to lie in bed with David? Wouldn’t David have realized the gravity of his sin? Right there and then he would be exposed, only this time, no sin would be committed by either party.
- A perfect example for contrasting would be Abigail (1 Samuel 25). Unlike Bathsheba who had a wonderful, loyal and good husband in Uriah, Abby’s prince, Nabal, was far from charming and wonderful. He was a drunkard, impatient, unruly and harsh. He refused to serve David’s servants. Thankfully, he married a smart woman who acted wisely and quickly. She appeased David’s anger using her gastronomic skills. After her husband died of a heart attack, Abigail became Mrs. King David.
So what is the verdict for Bathsheba’s actions that night–guilty or not guilty? I, the juror of this blog, find the defendant guilty. Why? Because she chose to commit adultery with David. She could have prayed right there and then (even if David was already undressed) and asked God to keep them from sinning. Everyone in Israel was well versed on the 10 Commandments, so lack of information was negligible. Although Bathsheba’s motives cannot be known or fully understood, her act was still sinful.
PS: In spite of man’s unfaithfulness, God is still faithful! 🙂 Bathsheba’s first child died, but her 2 boys that followed (after her marriage to David) brought her much joy. Solomon became the wisest man on earth while Nathan was the ancestor of Mary who became the mother of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. 🙂