(based on a true story)
Long ago, in the land of Israel, there was a beautiful young woman named Bathsheba. She had hair, black as night, and her eyes were a dark brown pool of beauty. She had a smile that could warm your heart, as it did one young man’s heart, named Uriah. His heart had been irrevocably lost to her beauty and grace. Her heart also had been stolen by this strong, young man.
Uriah was a very handsome man, strong and well built. He also had black hair and dark brown eyes. His face shone with the brightness of love for this woman, Bathsheba, and his eyes spoke of integrity and loyalty, to both his wife and country for Uriah served in the king’s army. A more loyal man could not be found in all the land.
Uriah and Bathsheba were married, and their love for each other was pure and innocent. Unfortunately, it was a time of war, and they were not able to share their love together for long. Bathsheba dreamed and prepared for the baby son that she wished to bear for her husband, for in that day, bearing a son for your husband was the woman’s highest calling. She dreamed and prayed for this child, but there were so many wars keeping her husband away that she feared that day would never come. Her heart longed for the day of her husband’s return when they would no longer be separated by these wars.
It was the time of year when Kings would go to war, and
King David, who was supposed to be with his men, had stayed at the palace.
One night he was restless so he went to the roof top to breathe the cool
night air. As he was standing on the roof top gazing out over his vast
kingdom thinking of all he had done, something caught his eye. He saw a
woman bathing. She was beautiful... he turned away because it was not right
to look, but her beauty had captivated his thoughts, and he looked again.
His eyes became fixated on her, and he began to fantasize about her in
his mind. His desire to have her grew, so he called his servant to him.
King David knew it was wrong, but she was so beautiful and he had to have her. And, after all, He was the king—he could do as he wished. His mind raced through every detail, every chance! The debate swamped his mind, and there was no changing it, he had to have her. So, he told his servant to bring her to him.
Now, Bathsheba did not know that she had been observed as she bathed, so she readied herself for bed. She was alone again, her husband was always gone. She ached to feel his arms around her once again, and she longed to gaze into his peaceful eyes. It had been too long since she had heard his voice and felt his touch.
There was a knock at the door that startled her. No one came to visit at this hour. She began to wonder who it was, and when she answered the door, there before her was the king’s messenger. A million thoughts raced through her mind. What news could this messenger have brought. Surely something awful must have happened. Then, the messenger said that the king had called for her. So she left with the messenger. As she walked toward palace, she began to fear that something had happened to her love, Uriah. Other thoughts ran through her head. “Had she done something wrong?”
As the messenger led her, she was thinking of how curious this was. Then, she realized as the doors opened, that she was being led to the king’s private chambers. She was frightened and shocked, yet at the same time curious and bewildered. She entered the room at the king’s beckoning. She had heard of King David’s goodness. Surely he would do nothing wrong for he was a man of God.
The king shut the chamber doors and began to speak to her of her un-matchable beauty. He began to caress her face, and then bringing her in closer, he began to kiss her. Before she could even catch her breath or say anything, he began to take off her clothing and make love to her. She wanted him to stop, but he was the king, and if she refused him, he could have her killed. She wanted to cry, but fear crept into her heart of what he might do. Anger began to build up, and confusion kept her stunned. He was a good, honest man, how could he do this? Why?
She wanted him to stop. She prayed to God for the end. However, she was still there, and he was still doing this unspeakable thing. Then, to her uttermost horror, her body began to respond to the king’s touch. It had been so long since she had felt her husband’s body close to hers, felt his lips on her own, felt his passion for her. Now, her body was responding— receiving pleasure from another man’s touch.
When it was over and she was all alone, with only the sound of her own tormenting memories and thoughts, she bathed again. Tears streamed out of her dark brown eyes, that now had no sparkle of life, but instead, agony and bitterness. How could this have happened? What had she done to deserve this? Was God punishing her for something? She was disgraced, for now she was an adulteress. How could the king, a man chosen by God, do such a thing? Why had she not just taken her chances with death, and run away when she had the chance? Why was her husband always gone? If he had only been home, this might not have happened. Now, she had sinned against God and against Uriah.
Weeks passed. Her grief was unbearable at times. She felt so dirty that no amount of bathing could make her feel clean. She’d never feel clean again. Then, adding to her pain and torment, she discovered that she was carrying the king’s child. Everyone would know that she was an adulterous. Her friends, family, and Uriah himself, would all know of her sin, that she had been with another man. She couldn’t tell them that it was the king, for they would not believe her, and he could have her killed. She had nowhere to turn to. In her desperation, she felt she had no choice but to turn to the king.
The king was horrified. In his mind, he had almost forgotten that night, and now, he was wishing that it really hadn’t happened. He began to justify himself, thinking that she shouldn’t have been bathing out in the open like that. She was being seductive. It wasn’t his fault that she was so beautiful and enticing. There was no man on earth who could resist the beauty that this woman possessed. Maybe she even did it deliberately, to try to get him to sleep with her. However, he knew this to be false. As his mind raced through this “un-bargained for” incident, he paced wildly. Then, he called for his messenger.
He told his messenger to bring Uriah home on leave. His plan was to get Uriah to sleep with his wife while he was there, and then he would believe that the child was his own. He would never know, and King David’s reputation would not be ruined.
Uriah arrived at the palace sometime later. He had not wanted to leave the battle front, for that, he felt, was his duty and was where he belonged. Also, he did not go home to sleep, for he felt that also would be wrong. So, he slept on a mat with the king’s servants.
When the king heard of this, he called Uriah and inquired about his actions. Uriah replied in good faith that while the ark of the Lord and the king’s men were in tents, he could not think of his own comfort and eat and drink and lie with his wife at home.
So that night the king invited Uriah to a dinner. He gave him enough wine to make him drunk, believing that he would then go home to sleep with his wife. However, Uriah remained steadfast, his loyalty even in drunkenness was unshaken. He slept with the servants on a mat again as he had said he would.
The king was stricken by this man’s actions. Uriah was the most loyal man that he had ever seen. He was being more noble, and cared more for the kingdom than the king. Anger, mixed with fear, burned within David’s heart. So out of desperation he wrote a letter to Joab, the commander of the army. His command was for Joab to put Uriah in the thickest part of battle and then pull back with his other men, leaving Uriah alone to be killed in battle. He then sent Uriah back to battle with the sealed letter to Joab. Uriah carried with him the dagger that would pierce his own heart.
Uriah had been suspicious of the King’s actions, for the king had tried so hard to let him sleep with his wife. Why should that have been of so much concern to the king? However, he quickly wiped the suspicion out of his mind. He should not allow himself to think such thoughts about his king. He just did not understand why he was sent home. So he put his suspicions behind him and remained loyal to his king. He faithfully brought the sealed letter to Joab.
Joab did as commanded, and Uriah died faithfully serving the king who had him killed. His death was in honor, for he died for the sake of his king and country and did not stray from his loyalties. When Bathsheba got word of her husband’s death, she grieved deeply. He was the only man she had ever loved. Why did God have to take him away from her? She felt that her life was falling apart. She was losing everything she held dear. What was she to do now?
After a brief time of mourning, the king took her to be his wife. This way, she at least had a home and a husband, and soon would have a child of her own. However, she wondered, could she bear to look at this child, born out of adultery? She feared that every look at the baby would bring back the memories of its conception and the sorrow that followed. She thought that these memories would eventually cause her to hate the child, even though the child was innocent. She most certainly hated herself. It just didn’t seem fair, she thought, that things had to happen this way.
As the birth of the child drew near, the prophet of God in the land, Nathan, approached the king. He told the king of a rich man, who had many sheep and cattle, and a poor man, who only had one beloved lamb. One day, when a guest came for dinner, the rich man, without pity, took and slaughtered the other man’s lamb instead of taking one from his own herd. Nathan asked him what should be done for such a horrendous act as this. David, having been a shepherd, and with a shepherd’s heart, was outraged. He said that the rich man deserved to die for his deed and that the man must pay four times over the cost of the lamb, for he had not even felt pity on the poor man.
Then the prophet looked to David and revealed to him that he was that man. David turned his head, for he knew it to be true. He knew that it was not a secret, for God knew, and now also the prophet. He had tried to forget it, and he had even begun to blame Bathsheba. He told himself Uriah may have died anyway. Every time he looked at Bathsheba, the memories would return. He almost despised her at times. But his shame and guilt could not be washed away forever. Now, he realized that he was the one to blame. He was the one that took the second look at Bathsheba. He was the one who had her brought to him. He was the one that used his power and authority to make love to a married woman. He was the one that killed an innocent man, and now he was the one who would have to live with his guilt.
The prophet told him that his child that Bathsheba carried would die for his sin and that his own family would turn against each other. David pleaded and begged that it not be so, but God had spoken. He hoped God would see his repentant heart and change his mind. However, God did not change his mind. When his son was seven days old, he died. David knew that the consequences could not be changed. He was to pay dearly for his sin.
Bathsheba “knew” that the child died in punishment for her evil sin. She had so many tears. She had committed adultery. Her husband had died, and with him, any hopes of bearing him a son. Now, even the child conceived in sin, died. She sometimes wished that she could die as well with her husband and child, for she was cursed, not able to bear anyone children. Her cup was bitter, indeed, she thought.
Once in awhile, as she reflected on the past, she would even have suspicions that the king himself had something to do with her husband’s death. Then again, maybe God just took him from her because of her “wickedness.” She deserved no happiness, for she was so wicked.
In the king’s grief over losing his child, he went to Bathsheba. He told her of the visit from Nathan, the prophet, and all that had been said. Then, he asked for her forgiveness for taking her life away from her. Bathsheba was startled at the news and wasn’t sure what to do. She had to process all that had been said, it was just too much. That night, the king slept with her, and she once again conceived.
In due time, she was able to realize that the adultery hadn’t been her fault. She had been raped by the king, and in God’s eyes, he was the one responsible for what had gone on. The king was in the position of power and she now saw with a clear mind that he had used his power and position to have his way with her. She realized that she did not have to bear the burden of guilt and shame, though it would still be awhile before the pain would cease.
The king no longer looked at her with contempt in his eyes, but with respect and admiration, kindness, and perhaps, love. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope in still living, and maybe happiness was not as far away as had previously been thought. She realized that God was not punishing her, but was in fact helping her to deal with life as it came along, and was, Himself, her best source for happiness.
Soon, Bathsheba became complete. God looked favorably on her, and she bore David a son. God had blessed her and David, with Solomon, who would become the next king. Little did she know that he would be one of the greatest kings that ever lived, that she would live to see him reign and be at his side. She would forever be known as the wife of King David, that bore him the son that God chose to carry the seed that would one day produce his very own son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
What could have been a shattered, torn life, of a woman
scorned and disgraced, became a life that God used to accomplish his biggest,
greatest task—the birth of his son for the salvation of the world.
revised October 1, 1994: copyrightThis story came to me after hearing a sermon on David’s prayer of recovery, Psalm 51. My pastor said David had abused Bathsheba, my mind began racing. I had always pictured Bathsheba as being the seducer. Hadn’t the movies portrayed her in that light? I think as a child, a minister even portrayed her as such. And David is one of my most beloved Bible characters. I always wished God could say of me as He did David, that I was a woman after God’s own heart. What was to follow was one of the most healing discoveries in my journey toward wholeness.
In his sermon, Pastor Jan Hettinga mentioned there are consequences for sin. David had experienced consequences—the death of child and discord within his family—that he would pay for the rest of his life. But as I listened, I also realized that Bathsheba had consequences too. I knew the Bible didn’t state how she felt about her husband, yet there is nothing to say she didn’t love him dearly. I realized decisions were made and her life was not in her hands, yet she paid bitterly for David’s sin, not her’s. She lost her home, her husband, then her child, and perhaps her reputation. And she spent her remaining years with the man who brought about the pain in her life. I cried out to God, “This isn’t fair!”
I thought about my life. I, too, was suffering the consequences of the sin acted upon me. It didn’t seem fair for Bathsheba and it didn’t seem fair for me. I had losses just as she did that can never be replaced. I could never be a child again. I could never recapture that innocence—the innocence that allows a child to discover a first kiss with a boy her own age, the thrill of a boy’s touch on her arm or hand, or whatever it feels like to learn about sex in a healthy way from healthy adults who describe it as wonderful and meaningful. I would never know the thrill of experiencing sex for the first time with my husband without fear and without pain.
I wept as these losses washed over me. I was damaged goods. I had been tainted, soiled, ruined for life. I even thought back to a Christmas service when the passage was read about the angel going to the virgin Mary. And I painfully realized that had I lived then, I would not have been chosen by God to be the mother of his beloved Son because I was not a virgin. That had been stolen from me along with everything else.
Then I felt the Lord gently tugging at me to look further. The voice I’ve come to know so dearly as His voice, reminded me who Bathsheba was. She was the mother of Solomon, the greatest king of all time, and then became the great-great… grandmother of Jesus, God’s own son, the King of kings. This woman whose life was in shambles, who must have grieved her losses as I have been didn’t die a shattered, broken woman. She lived to sit at her son, the king’s side. Then her name was written in God’s book for all mankind to see. She was chosen of God to fulfill his greatest purpose on earth. What a heritage! What a message to we who are broken and suffering and feeling life isn’t even worth living. What a promise of restoration! What a declaration from God, himself, that He doesn’t see us as damaged, tainted, soiled women. He sees us as women of value. Oh that I could see myself through His eyes and not my own! I believe that day I received a glimpse.
I also realized again how limited we are in what we see. Bathsheba, like me, could only see the pain and ruin of her life. She could only focus on the end of her hopes and dreams for this life. God, looking through his eternal eyes, saw the plan He had begun weaving into existence before time began, and saw Bathsheba’s part in it. He saw the blessing that would come through Bathsheba. He also saw the impact her story would have on me, as well as on others who need hope and promise.
This woman’s life inspired me. Through this brief passage in God’s word, I have hope. I can take all the shattered pieces of my life and let God make something glorious of it. I can reach out to others and give hope. God gave us a clear picture of what He thinks of us who are wounded by sexual abuse, whether it happened as children or as adults. I am so thankful that He chose a woman who was abused to bring about the birth of His son. And I’m so thankful He didn’t hide this fact in the closet, but He let it be known for all the world to see for all time.
© Copyright: Annie Nelson: 1990: All rights reserved