Bathsheba: Love, Loss, and Redemption
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew ya
-Leonard Cohen, “Hallelujah”
On the surface, Bathsheba’s story seems to be riddled with shame, scandal, and heartbreak. You may have written her story off like I had, perhaps in the same way you discounted your own story. You might have labeled Bathsheba "disqualified" because of her mistakes, or damaged because of David's selfish choice. But a closer look at her story, reveals something vastly different than what most people see at first glance.
Bathsheba’s role in her story is clouded in mystery. The Bible doesn’t offer up many details about her thoughts or feelings, or what her motives are as the narrative unfolds. Some people conclude that Bathsheba was the center of a story that happened to her, a story she didn’t ask to be a part of. They say that decisions were made about her life that greatly affected her, and that she was taken advantage of and violated. Others accuse her of knowing what she was doing, and of trying to seduce David.
What we do know is that Bathsheba was a beautiful woman, married to Uriah, the Hittite. Uriah was fiercely loyal to David. He is recorded in scripture as one of King David’s thirty-seven mighty men. He would’ve known David personally and been highly trusted. Bathsheba was the daughter and granddaughter of men who had faithfully served David even before he was king. She came from a highly esteemed, righteous and loyal family.
While the men in her life knew King David personally, we don’t know if Bathsheba had met him, although she probably grew up frequently hearing David’s name, and presumably knew quite a bit about him. We do know that David asked who she was when he saw her from his roof.
Rooftops, Baths, & Bed
Yep, you heard right. Bathsheba wasn’t the one on the roof, David was. He was on the roof of his palace when he saw Bathsheba bathing. Did she know he was watching her? We don’t know. She could have been bathing for him to see her, but she was likely bathing in a public bath known as a mikvah for her monthly cleansing. Not only was this normal, it was required by law. So she could just as easily have been doing absolutely nothing to invite scandal into her life. That didn’t prevent scandal from happening, however. David saw her, asked about her, and summoned her to himself.
It’s likely she had no idea why she was being summoned, but refusing the king was against the law. Scripture doesn't give us many details. Scripture also doesn’t tell us how she responded when she realized David intended to seduce her. We ask questions like: Did she protest? Did she argue? Did she willingly comply? Was she excited to be noticed and wanted by the king? Did she wish for this to happen? Even if her response was fully consensual, did she feel as if she had a choice?
No matter Bathsheba’s role in the affair, a whirlwind of tragic events outside of her control causes her to experience overwhelming loss she couldn't possibly have foreseen or asked for. Her husband Uriah is murdered, and then the child she conceives with David dies less than a week after he is born. On top of this she suffers the pain and shame of what has happened to her, or what some say she chose.
Thankfully, Bathsheba’s life story doesn’t end here. Hers is ultimately a story of Love that redeems everything. Her life tells a tale of a God that creates beauty from the ashes of humanity’s worst and most shameful moments, despite how we got there. God’s love did not reject her because of sin, or rule her out because of brokenness.
Bathsheba not only became the wife of King David (not just a concubine), but she was her husband's favorite, most beloved wife. She had four more children and her son, Solomon, grew up to be the wisest man in the world and one of the greatest Kings of Israel. Solomon’s name means ‘peace’, and his other name, Jedidiah, means ‘beloved of Jehovah.’ His name tells her story, “I am at peace because I am beloved and forgiven by Jehovah.” Bathsheba profoundly influenced Solomon’s writings--Hebrew tradition states that Bathsheba is the woman speaking in Proverbs 31, giving advice to her son.
On top of that, God honors Bathsheba throughout history and His redemption is stunningly displayed in her life centuries later. Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ mother and earthly father, are both descendants of Bathsheba’s lineage. Bathsheba was placed in the beautiful legacy of God’s very own son twice! God is an incredible author and He knows how to knit our stories into something intricately beautiful, whether we played a part in creating our pain through our own mistakes, or whether choices were made about us that we had no control over.
God always looks with love at the heart, and He deems every story a story worthy of a beautiful ending. We hope that through Bathsheba, you will see yourself in a new light, and recognize how God is writing your past into a story of redemption, and your future into a life filled with hope. You were created for greatness, no matter what has taken place in your life. God has more beauty for you than you could ever dream of in exchange for your ashes. You are never disqualified from His love and His redemption.
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Written by Katelyn Alexander and Alyssa Hause