by Natalie Chambers Snapp
We first meet Bathsheba while she is bathing in 2 Samuel 11:2-4, “purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness” (v. 4). It was common for women to engage in ritual cleansing after menstruation, and as we’ve said, the bathtub was often located in an outdoor courtyard. These verses tell us that Bathsheba was very beautiful (v. 2) and that she was the wife of Uriah (v. 3), one of the most powerful warriors who was excruciatingly loyal to King David, and the daughter of Eliam (v. 3), a respected officer in David’s regime. We also know that she was the granddaughter of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 23:34), who was one of King David’s most trusted advisors. In other words, her lineage was solid. And because of the important roles the men in her life fulfilled for King David, she lived near his palace.
Up until this point in Scripture, the overall portrayal of David is as loyal, trusting, wise, respected. But the story of Bathsheba and David is where we catch a good glimpse of David’s humanity and see that he was just as flawed and broken as the rest of us. Personally, I love this fact because it illustrates that we don’t have to have it all figured out or be perfect for God to use us. However, David’s sins affected many, many people—and certainly not for the better.
Second Samuel 11:1 says, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.” At first glance, this verse seems like one that simply provides a little background information and isn’t terribly significant. Except . . . this verse is very significant. During this time in history, it was customary for kings to fight alongside their men; however, David wasn’t with them. Instead, he stayed behind in Jerusalem, where he really wasn’t supposed to be. How often does sin occur after someone is not where he or she is supposed to be? A spouse who is supposed to be working late ends up in a hotel room with a lover. A child who is supposed to be at a sleepover somehow ends up at that high school party. A friend who cancelled lunch with you and is supposed to be at home sick is having lunch with another friend. As I tell my children, put yourself in a situation where you might be tempted, and chances are you will be.
So since David wasn’t where he was supposed to be and was, instead, at his palace, we discover that he took a little stroll on his roof and looked down to see a lovely woman taking a bath. Now, I never want to add anything to Scripture that isn’t there, but I have to wonder. Did he not know who this woman was? With her impeccable pedigree from a line of notable men in David’s close circle, did he not realize he was looking at Bathsheba? Nonetheless, he sent a messenger to find out her identity. Even after his messenger revealed Bathsheba’s identity— daughter of Eliam and wife of Uriah—he sent for her. Even though she descended from notable men who had helped him and was married to one of his bravest warriors, he still pursued her. Even though he already had six other wives, he wanted her. David succumbed to his own lust and greed and used his power to get his way. If David had been where he was supposed to be in the first place, none of this would have happened. If we stay above reproach, we live below temptation.
As followers of Jesus, it’s safe to assume we all desire to follow the narrow path. Ending up on the more-popular wide path leads to destruction, and we certainly don’t want that. However, let’s also just be real and recognize that most of us aren’t really excited about having to work through the pain and suffering that gets us to the narrow path. Yet it’s the narrow path that brings us life; and life is precisely what God wants for us all. Not just a content life here on this side of heaven, but also eternal life with Him. Bathsheba knew a thing or two about pain and suffering, and the story of her life will offer us motivation and hope to keep striving to reach—and stay on—the narrow, life-giving path. There are great rewards to the narrow path; and through trust, perseverance, and faith, we will eventually experience those rewards. That’s some serious hope I think we can all get behind.
Excerpted from The Bathsheba Battle: Finding Hope When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.