Character Study: Bathsheba's Inner Beauty
“What did I do to deserve this?” We’ve all thought that at some point before, right? We’re having one of those days, weeks or even years where it feels like everything is going wrong. Those times are so frustrating and discouraging. And no one gets it quite like Bathsheba.
You may have heard of Bathsheba before, but don’t feel bad if you haven’t because she really isn’t mentioned often (whether that’s because her name is kind of difficult to pronounce or the story she is involved in contains quite a bit of scandal). If you haven’t read Bathsheba’s story you can find it in 2 Samuel 11 and 12, as well as 1 Kings 1 and 2.
In our first sighting of Bathsheba, she is on her roof bathing, naked. This also happens to be David’s first sighting of her and that’s where all the trouble begins. Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, is a soldier in the war against the Ammonites, which means Bathsheba is home alone. “So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her.” (2 Samuel 11:4, English Standard Version). Yikes.
This is the first of many unexpected circumstances Bathsheba will find herself in. Scripture doesn’t give us much as far as Bathsheba’s thoughts and desires, or even dialogue for that matter. We don’t know whether she willingly went to David when he summoned her or if she reminded him of Uriah when he made it clear that he wanted more than just a friendly dinner. But since David was king and Bathsheba was a woman in his kingdom in a day when women had almost no voice, I’m assuming it wouldn’t have done much good for her to say no. But of course, the story doesn’t stop there. Bathsheba soon realizes she is pregnant. And since Uriah is away at war, it’s safe to assume that everyone will know this baby isn’t his.
In the culture of the day, for Bathsheba to become pregnant with another man’s child would have deemed her unclean or even worthy of stoning. David, knowing this, devised a plan to save both of their reputations: he brought Uriah home. David was thinking that Uriah would come home and “celebrate” with his beautiful wife and that would be that. But Uriah doesn’t cooperate. Instead, he refuses to live in comfort while his fellow soldiers are camping in open fields. So, what does David do? Confess, apologize, agree to care for the baby in secret? If only. No, David sends Uriah back to the battlefield, carrying a note to his commander with the directive for Uriah to be placed on the frontlines and abandoned, ensuring his death. And the plan is carried out.
After Uriah’s death, David takes Bathsheba as his wife, but they still don’t get a happily ever after. Soon after his birth, their newborn son dies.
Within weeks, Bathsheba finds herself summoned for an affair, carrying the child of the man who summoned her, widowed because of that same man’s command that her husband be killed, married to the man who ordered her husband’s murder, and burying her newborn son. Her life permanently altered because of someone else’s actions.
What did I do to deserve this? You know that had to cross her mind.
By now you might be thinking, Why on earth did you tell me this story? And I can’t say I blame you, its pretty sad. But there is beauty to be found.
David repents of his sins and returns to the Lord. And here is what 2 Samuel 2:24-25 has to say, “Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba… and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him.” (ESV)
Solomon who would later become the king of Israel, considered the wisest man to ever live; whose wisdom and story we still get to glean from today in Scripture. After all their mistakes, their loss and grief, David and Bathsheba had a son whom God loved and was used by God in incredible ways throughout his life and all of history.
So, what can we learn from Bathsheba? How did she magnify God in the middle of all this ick?
Scripture calls Bathsheba beautiful, which is why David was drawn to her. And I believe she possessed an inner beauty, a strength and openness to God that carried her through every unexpected circumstance. Through every painful situation we never read that Bathsheba ran away, she faced everything that was thrown at her and she came out stronger for it. She was living with the results of David’s actions and, in the end, it was his feelings for her that gave her favor. At the end of David’s life, Bathsheba is the one that comes to his side and asks for his promises to be kept. It is believed that Bathsheba was the writer of Proverbs 31, a beautiful challenge from a mother to her son to find a virtuous wife. And I believe that in David’s repentance and pursuit of God, Bathsheba was right by his side.
As David repented for his sins and chased after God, he continued to be drawn to Bathsheba, and I don’t believe that would have been possible if she didn’t grow with him. I think the greatest lesson we can take away from this story is that God is a God of forgiveness and redemption. He welcomes us with open arms when we repent of our sins, and he blesses us with a beautiful life when we submit to Him, no matter how undeserving we believe we are.
Bathsheba reminds me that God sees us where we are and is always waiting to pull us close.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.